While sonnen might not be the biggest name in batteries or battery backup, its sonnenCore battery definitely proves a strong competitor on the battery scene.
The 10 kWh sonnenCore battery is a great option for homeowners. But determining if it is the right battery for you requires weighing its pros and cons.
Let’s take a look at the sonnenCore’s pros and cons and help you determine if it is the best battery option for you.
HOW DOES THE SONNENCORE WORK?
The sonnenCore works like most batteries. It stores energy from a source, such as solar panels or a utility, and can provide that energy at a future time when needed.
With the rise in residential solar installations in recent years, sonnen batteries have often been paired with solar panels to store excess energy production. This provides a clean source of energy that can power the home both during the day and night, on cloudy days, as well as in the dark days of winter.
Sonnen batteries can be used to offset Time-Of-Use (TOU) energy rates. Utility customers that are on a TOU pricing structure pay higher energy rates during peak usage times. To avoid these high energy costs, homeowners can install sonnen batteries to store solar energy during off-peak hours and use that energy when prices are highest.
This strategy can be especially useful for electric vehicle (EV) owners. That’s because most peak hours occur during the evening, when homeowners and children are returning from work and school. This is also the time when EV owners tend to plug in their electric vehicles. To avoid the high energy prices of charging EVs during peak hours, EV owners can pull from their battery to top up their EV instead of pulling power from the utility.
Estimate your total savings, payments, and total energy usage with our FREE solar calculator.
SONNENCORE SPEC SHEET
The sonnenCore battery has several qualities that set it apart from other top battery options and can help a homeowner choose if it’s right for them.
Let’s take a look at the basics of the sonnenCore: Power and Capacity, Compatibility, Chemistry, Performance. Warranty, and Cost.
POWER & CAPACITY OF SONNENCORE
The sonnenCore battery totes a maximum power rating of 4.8 kW and 10 kWh usable capacity.
To better understand these numbers, let’s break down the meaning of a battery’s maximum power rating and usable capacity.
A battery’s maximum power rating (measured in kilowatts, or kW) is the maximum amount of electricity that can be output at a single time. The higher the power rating, the better a battery can power more demanding appliances. Think of maximum power as a straw in a drink. The wider the straw, the more liquid can be sucked out at one time.
A battery’s usable capacity (measured in kilowatt hours, or kWh) is the maximum amount of electricity a battery can hold on a full charge. Usable capacity determines how long a battery can power the appliances it is supplying. Think of usable capacity as the drink the straw is pulling from. The larger the drink, the larger the usable capacity.
The balance between maximum power and usable capacity is important to consider. If the battery’s maximum power is high and can easily supply power-hungry appliances, it is important to ensure the energy capacity can sufficiently supply that power for the required time. Using the drink and straw analogy, it’s important to ensure the drink has enough liquid (energy capacity) so that the straw (maximum power) doesn’t deplete the drink too quickly.
When looking at batteries, it’s crucial to know how the battery will interface with other equipment, such as solar panels and solar inverters.
The sonnenCore has an integrated solar inverter that converts direct current (DC) from the solar panels into alternating current (AC) for use in the home. This eliminates the need for additional equipment and increases efficiency.
The sonnenCore is DC-coupled, which means it can receive power directly from the solar panels instead of going through an inverter first, which is necessary in AC-coupled systems. This provides greater efficiency by cutting out the need for DC-to-AC inversion. This also provides for a simpler integration with storage inverters
The sonnenCore uses lithium-ion technology, specifically lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP), to store energy. Lithium-ion technology has greatly improved in recent years, and it is now the preferred chemistry for batteries. This preference is due to lithium-ions’ many benefits, including high energy density, safer operation, lower maintenance, and greater depth of discharge (to be explained later).
Unlike most other batteries, the sonnenCore does not use cobalt. Because it is cobalt-free, the sonnenCore is less hazardous when manufactured and disposed of. The sonnenCore is also 100% recyclable.
Two key performance indicators are important when evaluating battery options: depth of discharge (DoD) and roundtrip efficiency.
Depth of Discharge (DoD): DoD indicates the percentage of a battery’s energy that can be discharged relative to the overall capacity of the battery without damaging the battery’s cells. For instance, if a battery with 10 kWh of usable capacity can be discharged to 1 kWh without damaging the battery, that battery has DoD of 90 percent. The higher the DoD, the better the battery will perform and the longer life it will likely have.
The sonnenCore has a DoD of 100 percent, which can’t be beat.
Roundtrip Efficiency: Roundtrip efficiency is a measure of electrical losses involved with charging and discharging a battery. The higher the roundtrip efficiency percentage, the more efficiently the battery can store the electricity it is receiving and then provide that electricity when needed.
The sonnenCore has a roundtrip efficiency of 85 percent, which means that for every 10 kWh of electricity put into the battery, 8.5 kWh can be output. This roundtrip efficiency lags behind the LG Chem RESU (94.5 percent) and the Tesla Powerwall (90 percent).
The sonnenCore comes with a 70 percent capacity, 10 year or 58 MWh energy throughput warranty. This means the sonnenCore battery is guaranteed to produce at least 70 percent or its original capacity after 10 years or 58 MWh energy throughput, whichever comes first.
The sonnenCore battery warranty is on of the best in the industry and is able to compete with other top brands.
See full sonnenCore warranty here.
COST OF SONNENCORE BATTERY
While cost isn’t the most important factor when buying a battery, it is definitely a huge influence.
Thankfully, battery costs have come down significantly in recent years, which has made batteries much more affordable.
The sonnenCore battery costs about $9,500, which is about $950/kWh. However, this is before installation. Depending on the complexity of the installation and other factors, the cost of installation could be twice the price.
Luckily, a portion of this cost could be recouped through the federal solar tax credit (or Investment Tax Credit, ITC). The ITC can provide a 26% tax credit for the entire cost of a solar installation, including battery backup. Your solar provider can provide more details and ensure your system qualifies for the federal solar tax credit.
As outlined above, there are many advantages the sonnenCore has over its other competitors in the battery market. Here is a rundown of the largest pros of the sonnenCore battery, including some not mentioned above.
- Lithium-ion LFP chemistry provides safer, more durable, more reliable battery than traditional battery chemistry. It is also less hazardous and provides 100 percent recyclability.
- Compatible with many brands and equipment types, and includes a fully integrated inverter.
- Does not require installation and equipment from particular company, unlike Tesla Powerwall
- 70 percent, 10 year or 58 MWh energy throughput warranty is one of the best offered for a battery
- DC-coupled setup provides greater efficiency and integration
- Unbeatable 100% Depth of Discharge (DoD)
- Strong roundtrip efficiency of 94.5 percent
While the sonnenCore has many impressive features, there are several disadvantages it has compared to other top battery competitors.
- Price comes in more expensive per Watt than both LG Chem RESU and Tesla Powerwall
- Roundtrip efficiency of 85 percent falls short of other competitors
- A bit bulkier than most batteries.
IS THE SONNENCORE BATTERY WORTH IT?
Determining whether the sonnenCore is right for you requires weighing many factors.
These factors can include why you want a battery. Do you want the battery for peace of mind during a power outage? Are you wishing to avoid TOU and high peak energy rates? Are you wishing to go off-grid?
It’s also important to factor in whether your utility offers net-metering, which will affect the financial viability of your battery investment.
The answer to each of these questions will certainly affect your decision. And unfortunately, these answers might not be easy to determine without the help of an expert.
Thankfully, Green Ridge Solar can help you decide if the sonnenCore is right for you. We help Oregon homeowners install battery backup with and without solar panels, and we can answer any questions you might have about battery backup.