Review of the LG Chem Solar Battery
When LG Chem Batteries released their lithium ion solar power battery storage in August 2015, I couldn’t help myself. Solar battery storage is the future of electricity and my business. When LG came to the table with a competitive price before Tesla and Fronius, I found it irresistible. I had to get one to run it through its paces in the office.
The LG Solar battery does not run on conventional string inverters – it requires a hybrid inverter (an inverter with a built-in battery charger). So which solar inverter did I install to charge the LG battery? The choice was made fairly simple. There are only three on the market that will work with the LG Chem: the SMA with the Sunny Island, the Solax X Hybrid, and the Sungrow SH5K.
SMA’s Sunny Island. Although SMA’s reputation precedes them, their rapid decline in market share would support my position: they are yesteryear’s number 1. While admittedly they have a tried and tested inverter charger solution that now connects to the LG Chem, SMA was priced far too high for me – with bells and whistles that I wouldn’t use.
Solax X Hybrid. What strikes me about Solax it seems no-one in Australia knows how to pronounce their name yet. Apparently the Chinese company has been around for over ten years, but they have only gained a significance presence in Australia since the release of their Hybrid inverter. Now get this for a rookie mistake: it’s not rated for outdoor use! It’s IP20 which means it “protects against objects larger than 12.5 mm – I’m not even joking. To balance this cynicism, my technically minded friends at Supply Partners run their LG Chem with a Solax Hybrid and are suitably impressed with its capability of continuing to run when grid power is down. For me, however, there was an obvious choice.
The Sungrow SH 5K Hybrid inverter. MC Electrical have developed a solid working relationship with Sungrow over the last four years, and I have developed trust in them as a quality, reputable and cost-competitive manufacturer. MC Electrical are the warranty agent for Sungrow in the south-east, so it was only natural that we learnt about their new Hybrid inverter. We installed the Sungrow hybrid and LG Chem in my office / showroom in August 2015, so I’ve had a chance to put it through its paces. I’m stoked with its design and performance.
(Schneider and Goodwe are also looking at having their hybrid inverters LG Chem compatible. I wasn’t going to wait around for them.)
And we’re running on batteries!
This compact LG battery with the new Sungrow SH 5K runs like a dream. It has 6.4kWh of storage with a 90 percent depth of discharge. If it cycles 300 times a year, it is warranted for 10 years with a degraded nominal output of 60 percent in its 10th year.
The Sungrow inverter/charger and LG’s on-board battery management system looks after the health of the battery and maximizes our saving by minimizing our grid consumption. During the early hours of the day, the battery is charged and by about 9 am, it is fully charged. In the middle hours of the day, if solar output decreases or our consumption peaks, the battery then kicks in and helps out. It gets recharged later on during the day when we produce excess power. By about 4 pm, the solar starts to die off and the battery kicks in to help us finish our day. By the time we leave at 5.30pm, we have a battery about 80 percent full, and this helps about half of our night time load. Expansion battery packs are available so we could double the size if needed.
Value for money?
If you are looking to get a return on your investment, you may have to have a loose interpretation of the term.
First, we’ll just take into account the cost of the battery itself. You were always going to get a battery ready inverter for when the cost of batteries come down, right? Installation of the battery at the same time as your hybrid inverter will cost you an additional $5800. So what constitutes return? I break it down into three categories:
i);financial return, ii); emergency power supply, iii); feel good factor
The financial return. These calculations can get complicated but for the sake of the exercise, let’s just get a feel for it. We won’t take into account an inevitable increase in electricity prices, nor will we take into the account of efficiency and capacity losses of the battery.
The LG warranty will allow you to use 19200kWh in a ten year period. 1 KWh will save you about 18 cents, so you will save about $3456 under its warranty. But LG can’t make a product to fail the day after the warranty expires – let’a give it 20 percent more and say you will save $4147.
Emergency power supply. The value of this will depend on the likelihood of grid failure and the importance of maintaining supply. Let’s say it is possible for you to lose power five times in the next ten years, and two of those times could be long enough for you to lose a fridge and freezer full of food. What would you pay for the convenience of maintaining power? I like electricity. I’m going to say $1000. N.B. Sungrow’s SH5K won’t have EPS until their second model is released in early 2016.
Feel good factor. The feeling you get from bragging that you were one of the first to adopt the battery revolution has an immeasurable value. I have the LG Chem on display in my office – imagine you had it in our man cave – priceless! If I had put aside ten bucks for every time I have had a warm fuzzy since I installed our LG, I would have half paid the thing off by now. That’s got to be worth at least $2000.
So, by the above unorthodox accounting method, you can see that the LG battery is incredible value for money.
$4147 FR + $1000 EPS + $2000 FGF
= $7147 of value
$7147 value – $5800 cost
= $1347 savings!
With the $1347 that you “save” you can go and buy a pool table for the man cave! You are welcome.
That logic will work for us early adopters, but not for all. However as the battery prices rapidly plummet, battery quality and life expectancy increase, and as the electricity prices continue to soar, battery storage will become more viable. If you are going to go solar now, we recommend you install a Hybrid ready inverter – and be prepared for affordable 24-hour sunshine. Two other excellent hybrid inverter options are discussed in this blog on Tesla Powerwall compatible inverters.
If you would like honest and expert advice on which hybrid inverter would best suit you, Contact MC Electrical.