What are PylonTech Batteries?
If you’re a homeowner with solar panels, a battery storage system can help you save money by helping you use your solar energy more effectively, and using even less electricity from the grid, making your home much more self-reliant. This can have a big effect on whether you think solar panels are worth it for you.
By capturing electricity produced from your solar PV system during the sunniest parts of the day, you can then use that electricty in the evenings, or on days when it’s very overcast. This means that you can cut your energy bills significcantly.
A Pylon battery system, when paired with the correct BMS (Battery Management System), also protects your home from powercuts, giving you peace of mind that you’ll be able to keep the lights on and food safe from spoiling if there is another major powercut such as the August 2019 blackout which left over 1 million people without power.
Another way to make a PylonTech energy storage system work for you is to have it charge overnight, or at times where electricty prices are very low or sometimes even negative (yes, you can get paid to use electricity).
PylonTech batteries are different from other home lithium battery systems, such as the Tesla Powerwall, because they are modular. This means that you can start with one or two battery modules, and then easily connect more over time. The initial installation is similar to buying any other battery system, but adding more energy storage capacity later can be as simple as placing another unit on top, and plugging in the power and communication cable.
PylonTech batteries might not look as sleek and pretty as a Tesla Powerwall, but they are much more flexible and configurable to your needs. It’s a bit like PC vs Mac. If you buy a PC then typically it’s less expensive for the same raw performance, can be configured to your specs, and can be easily upgraded later. Whereas a Mac is slim, futuristic, expensive, and if you want to upgrade it later you just need to buy a new one. That comparison isn’t 100% fair because with a Powerwall you can still buy two and use both at the same time. But you get the idea.
Who Makes PylonTech Batteries?
PylonTech is a Chinese company founded in 2009. They work with distributers across the world, including in the UK. Most people buy them through solar battery installers, who are then typically responsible for the warranty and any repairs.
How Long do PylonTech Batteries Last?
The design life for the US2000, US3000 and other batteries in this range is 15 years. Or 6,000 full cycles, which works out as just over one cycle per day every day for 15 years. Assuming you have a proper installation, then this should be easily long enough for them to pay for themselves.
This is the useful lifespan of the batteries, after which they will likely be significantly degraded, but not completely useless. Similar to how the battery in your old smartphone probably doesn’t hold a charge for very long.
Any lithium battery, including PylonTech will be impacted by very hot or cold temperatures, and too much exposure to these extremes will also shorten its lifetime. When working with a solar battery installer, it’s important that they factor this in, and install the system away from direct sunlight, or in a location exposed to frost during winter.
How Long Can a PylonTech Battery Power My Home For?
Very simply, one PylonTech battery module can power a typical family home for 12 hours.
One PylonTech US3000 provides 3.2kWh of useable capacity (the amount of energy storage that can be safely used without shortening the life of the li ion battery).
For a typical home though, you’d probably have two or more US3000 or US2000 batteries installed. So to use that as an example, with 6.4kWh of total energy storage:
If you worked on your computer for 5 hours, whilst your partner watches TV, made several cups of tea, cooked dinner for an hour, and kept the lights on for the night then you would have used 4.1kWh.
So with this example, a PylonTech battery system built with two US3000 modules would power your home for one and a half evenings, without charging it up at all during the day.
Or if you had a power cut, you could easily use a couple of computers all day, making cups of tea etc and still cook dinner and keep the TV and lights on into the night.
Do They Still Work if There’s a Power Cut?
They can do, as long as they’re set up correctly with the right solar inverter and connection to the rest of the electrical system. The reason it’s important to have the correct setup is because it would be potentially dangerous for the battery to send power back into the grid during a power cut, in case a power company electrician was working on the lines. An experienced solar battery installer will of course eliminate this risk by choosing the correct components.
How Much do They Cost in the UK? (Including Installation)
Without installation, and without the other compontents of a energy storage system, the original PylonTech US2000 can be picked up in the UK for just under a thousand pounds (including VAT and delivery).
A 4kW solar PV system with two US2000 batteries, totalling 4.8kWh of energy storage, including installation can be purchased for around £8,000.
Or on their own, you can buy two batteries with the controller system fully installed for around £3,500. Or if you’d prefer to DIY it, you can buy one US2000 from SunStore for £999.99 at the time of writing.
If you’re paying for an installer, it’s always worth getting 3
How Many Solar Panels Are Needed to Charge a PylonTech Battery?
During the summer, a fairly standard 4kW solar system (10 x 400w panels) will produce around 15kWh of energy. Which is enough to fully charge 6 PylonTech US2000 batteries. Or to put it another way, you would need 2 solar panels to charge a PylonTech Battery.
In the UK winter however, it’s another story, where you might only produce 3-4kWh with the same system, meaning you would need 6-10 panels to charge the battery.
All this again depends on your energy use though, because you might find that you’re not fully discharging the batteries every night. If you’re only using them for lighting and running fridges, computers, and TVs, then you will use a tiny fraction of what it uses to run a cooker and electric shower.
How Long is the Typical Installation Time?
Most installations can be easily completed within a few hours, but like any home improvement project it does depend on your house. If there is an easily accessible place with enough room for the battery system, which is also close to where your main electrical panel is (or solar inverter if you already have solar installed), then the process will typically be very quick and straightforward.
Charging a PylonTech Solar Battery from the Grid
It is possible to charge a PylonTech battery from the grid instead of from solar or wind.
Why would anyone want to do this? Because electricity can be bought much more cheaply at night time, or at other low demand times. It’s even possible to get paid for charging your solar battery from the grid at certain times, if you use a tarrif like Octopus Agile.
If you don’t have a large enough solar array to fully charge up your energy storage during the day, then you can have your Li Ion solar battery fill up the night before at 5p / kWh, then use during the daytime when you would otherwise have to pay something like 16-24p / kWh.
It’s important to note that PylonTech batteries aren’t very smart on their own. The part of the system which decides when to charge from the grid is typically the hybrid solar inverter. That’s the component which turns the DC power from your solar panels into AC, which is what your household electrical items run off.
It also has some intelligence to make sure the electricty is being used efficiently. For example a Lux inverter can integrate directly with Octopus Agile to automatically charge when rates are low or negative.
PylonTech Battery Reviews Roundup
Are PylonTech Batteries Any Good?
In depth reviews for PylonTech batteries are somewhat difficult to find, so to save you the time in trawling the internet, I’ve collated the best ones I could find, whilst trying to keep things balanced.
Nicholas Howell is a renewables DIY guy, and talked through the process of adding another PylonTech US2000C to his existing stack of batteries which he’s already had for a few years. He highlighted the flexibility of the system:
“I would say a really good solution to getting home storage because you can get in at a lower price point. Because you can get an inverter and a couple of batteries, which would cost you two and a half grand or something. Whereas if you were to go all in and get a Tesla Powerwall, you’re looking at sort of 6-7 grand. And then as funds allow, you can add more batteries to your stack and increase your storage capacity. But it just means you don’t have to do it all in one big hit up front.”
Reliability & Build Quality
The Off Grid Family are based in the UK and are, like the name suggests, living an off-grid lifestyle. They’re currently using 8 PylonTech US3000C module.
They’ve found the batteries to be very well built, but the handles and clips are screwed on in such a way that makes it very difficult to remove them if needed. Something to bare in mind if you’re doing a DIY set up. Speaking about the handles on the case (which they removed):
“I’m actually going to re-use these [handles] because they’re so well made.“
One issue they had (with one of the eight units they bought) was that it arrived and wouldn’t switch on at all. They had to return it to the distributer who, at the time of them making the video, weren’t able to offer an immediate reason why it wasn’t working, so they’re going to get a replacement. So far they haven’t had any problems with the others.
Is It Worth Getting a PylonTech Battery?
Battery storage systems are clearly not get rich quick schemes. If you’re interested purely in financial returns, then it’s highly dependent on your energy useage patterns, which a good installer can help you work out.
However, many people appreciate the peace of mind of having more independence from the grid, as well as being able to reduce their carbon footprint further.
Plus, with solar panels it just feels really cool to be cooking your dinner, running your aircon, or charging your car 100% from the sun, at any time of day.
PylonTech Battery Installers in the UK
Whether you’re buying solar panels with battery storage, or adding a solar battery to an existing system, then it’s recommended to find an installer who specialises in renewable energy systems rather than a generalist electrician.
This is because there’s various aspects which can be configured differently depending on how you use electricity at home, and also how much attention you plan on giving it once up and running.