Battery maker sonnen’s “luxury” battery offering – the ecoLinx – is more than just an energy storage device: the ecoLinx syncs your entire property’s energy usage together to efficiently and intelligently manage how you use energy in your home, all without disrupting your lifestyle. Especially when combined with a solar energy system, the sonnen ecoLinx is a powerful and smart home energy management system. (Note: check out our review of sonnen’s other primary product line–the eco–here.)
How does the sonnen ecoLinx work?
The sonnen ecoLinx pairs well with solar panel systems, especially if your utility has reduced or removed net metering, introduced time-of-use rates, or instituted demand charges. Installing a storage solution like the sonnen ecoLinx with a solar energy system allows you to maintain a sustained power supply during day or night, as long as you store enough power from your solar panels when the sun is shining.
As with many other home battery products, the sonnen ecoLinx is sized for day-to-day use at your home and is primarily designed for pairing with a solar panel system. When your solar panels produce more electricity than you can use in your home, you can store the excess electricity in the battery system instead of sending it back into the grid. Later, when your panels aren’t producing enough electricity to meet your home’s needs, you can use the stored energy in your battery instead of having to buy it from your utility company.
Key things to know about the sonnen ecoLinx
sonnen’s website states that the ecoLinx “…merges clean-tech with high-tech, giving you the ultimate smart home powered by clean energy.” Perhaps more so than many other energy storage options, the ecoLinx can intelligently pair with home automation setups to manage what appliances consume power and when they consume power so that you can save money and have peace of mind. For example, the ecoLinx can preemptively store extra energy if there’s severe weather headed your way, or turn off non-critical appliances and electrical loads when you don’t use them. It can also do the more typical home battery job of smart load management by reducing your reliance on the electric grid automatically during peak demand times, when prices may be higher in certain parts of the country
The ecoLinx can integrate with many leading home automation platforms, as well as popular products like Nest thermostats or the Lumin Smart Panel.
When evaluating the ecoLinx, there are various important metrics and technical specifications to keep in mind. Among the most important are the size of the battery (power and capacity), its depth of discharge, and roundtrip efficiency.
The sonnen ecoLinx comes in two different models: the ecoLinx and the ecoLinx 30. While the ecoLinx30 comes in only one size, the ecoLinx series includes five different size options.
Two important metrics to keep in mind when comparing the ecoLinx to other home storage options are power and usable capacity. Power (measured in kilowatts, or kW) determines the maximum amount of electricity that can be output at a single time, while usable capacity (measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh) is a measure of the maximum amount of electricity stored in your battery on a full charge. According to their datasheets, the sonnen ecoLinx line has a power rating of 8 kw. The ecoLinx 30, the largest battery in the lineup, boasts 30 kWh of usable capacity, while the smaller ecoLinx comes in 2 kWh size increments from 12 kWh to 20 kWh capacity.
Think of your battery like water running through a pipe. The usable energy capacity is the amount of water available to push through the pipe, while power is the size of the pipe itself. Larger pipes allow more water to flow through at once, which depletes the water faster. Similarly, a battery with a high power rating can deliver more electricity at one time, but will burn through its available energy capacity faster too.
A battery’s power determines the number of appliances you can run from the battery concurrently, while usable capacity determines how long those appliances can be run. Batteries with a higher power rating are capable of powering more, bigger appliances (i.e., your HVAC system) or many appliances at once, while batteries with a higher usable capacity can store more total energy and thus can run your appliances for longer periods of time without needing to recharge.
The functionality of one solar battery next to another can vary; some batteries have excellent off-grid capabilities, while others offer software solutions specific to rate arbitrage. The suite of ecoLinx hardware and software products are designed to provide both of these services.
sonnen offers a storage inverter alongside their ecoLinx that converts excess alternate current (AC) electricity produced by a solar array into direct current (DC) electricity to store in the ecoLinx. This means that, as long as your installer installs the correct components and the ecoLinx inverter, your sonnen ecoLinx battery will be able to provide backup power and continue to interact with your solar panel system when the grid goes down.
Two key ways to evaluate the performance of a solar battery are its depth of discharge and roundtrip efficiency.
Depth of discharge (DoD) indicates the percentage of a battery’s energy that has been discharged relative to the overall capacity of the battery. Because the useful life of a battery decreases each time you charge, discharge, and re-charge–or cycle–your battery, many battery manufacturers specify a maximum DoD level for optimal battery performance. In general, batteries with a higher depth of discharge are considered better quality products. The sonnen ecoLinx line boasts a depth of discharge of 100 percent.
Roundtrip efficiency is a measure of electrical losses involved with charging and discharging a battery. The higher the efficiency percentage, the more efficiently the battery is able to convert incoming electricity into stored electricity and then back into usable electricity. The sonnen ecoLinx has a high roundtrip efficiency of 81.6 percent; this means that for every 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity you put into the battery, you’ll receive 8.16 kWh of output.
sonnen ecoLinx warranty coverage
- Warranty period: 15 years
- Guaranteed end of warranty capacity: 65%
In most cases, homes with a sonnen battery will charge and discharge their battery every day. The ecoLinx comes with a 15-year/15,000 cycle limited warranty. This means that an ecoLinx warranty is valid for either 15 years or the amount of time it takes to cycle the battery (charge and discharge) 15,000 times, whichever comes first. This is similar to car warranties – ten years or 100,000 miles, where the cycles of a battery is similar to mileage warranties.
Importantly, sonnen’s battery technology is similar to other rechargeable batteries both large and small; as time goes on, the battery loses some of its ability to hold a charge. Think of how the battery life of a brand-new smartphone compares to one that is a few years old. As you continually charge and drain your phone’s battery, it starts to lose some of its ability to hold a charge.
If you want to compare individual battery models side-by-side, our solar battery Buyer’s Guide lets you select products and compare them based on efficiency, capacity, power, and more.
How much does the sonnen ecoLinx cost?
The cost of installing a battery isn’t as straightforward as looking up the list price for an individual component–i.e., your battery. In fact, depending on your electrical setup, installation costs can vary widely. While sonnen says pricing for the ecoLinx varies from installation to installation, list prices for the 12 kWh ecoLinx product online are around $36,000. For larger models, this price will only go up. Additionally, installation companies will add on pricing for the actual installation job itself.
If you want to install the ecoLinx as part of a solar-plus-storage system, battery costs are just one piece of the equation. A 5 kilowatt (kW) solar energy system costs anywhere from $9,000 to $15,000 depending on where you live and the type of equipment you choose.
That may sound like a lot of money, but installing a solar-plus-storage system can be a worthwhile investment. Whether or not the sonnen ecoLinx makes sense for you is determined by the way that your electric utility structures its rates, as well as your reasons for installing a solar battery.
In some cases, depending on where you live, you may have access to financial incentives that can reduce your home energy storage installation costs. For instance, if you live in California, you could get a cash rebate that covers most of your home battery costs through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). Other states (such as Massachusetts) are in the early stages of evaluating battery storage performance incentives as well, and several states already provide cash rebates.
Installing a solar-plus-storage system at your home is a great way to take control of your electricity bill, but it doesn’t mean that you’re completely disconnected from your utility. Going “off the grid” with solar batteries is actually a more expensive and complicated proposition than you might think. Most home batteries, including the ecoLinx, only have enough capacity to store a few hours of electricity. If you want to make sure you can maintain power to your property for days at a time, you’ll need to install several ecoLinx batteries together to increase your storage capabilities.
Where to buy the sonnen ecoLinx
The sonnen ecoLinx battery is currently available online through sonnen’s website where you can request a quote. Adding energy storage technology to your home is a complicated process that requires electrical expertise, certifications, and knowledge of the best practices required to install a solar-plus-storage system correctly.
A qualified EnergySage-approved company can give you the best recommendation about the sonnen home battery system and other energy storage options available to homeowners today. If you are interested in receiving competing installation quotes for solar and energy storage options from local installers near you, simply join the EnergySage Solar Marketplace today and indicate what products you’re interested in your profile’s preferences section.