Batteries are becoming a popular addition to solar panel systems throughout the U.S. and across the globe. Energy storage can provide backup power if the grid goes down and can also help maximize savings in utility territories that have time-of-use (TOU) rates or unfavorable net metering policies.
Solar companies are picking up on the trend – many have started offering battery installation as a service to pair with a solar panel system. The largest residential solar installer in the country, Sunrun, has a “solar plus storage” option known as the Brightbox package. Brightbox is available in Hawaii, Arizona, California, New York, and –most recently– Massachusetts.
What is the Brightbox?
The Brightbox package is Sunrun’s company-branded battery option, launched in partnership with LG. LG Chem’s batteries are not an exclusive offering of SunRun; they are also available from other U.S. solar installation companies.
The LG Chem batteries are lithium ion, and come in a variety of sizes. Sunrun offers the LG Chem RESU10H, which can hold 9.3 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. Sunrun states that their Brightbox package can provide 10+ hours of backup power if the grid goes down.
Brightbox financing options and maintenance offerings from Sunrun
Sunrun offers a few different financing options for a Brightbox installation. Similarly to solar panels, you can either buy the equipment or lease it from the company. If you lease, you can choose either a prepaid option or monthly payments. If you’re looking to buy the equipment, SunRun has loan options for both the solar panel system and battery.
Sunrun also offers a 20-year full-service plan for the battery should you choose to lease it. Even without this service plan, the Brightbox is backed by LG’s warranty of 10 years, which assures that the battery won’t lose more than 40 percent of its storage capacity during that time.
Pricing for Brightbox from Sunrun
Sunrun doesn’t share pricing for the Brightbox package on its website. That said, what you’ll pay for the Brightbox package can vary depending on the state and your financing option. Sources in New York report pricing between $6,500 and $8,000 in addition to the cost of your solar installation, while Sunrun advertises an initial cost of $1,000 with its leasing arrangement in Massachusetts.
It’s also worth noting that Sunrun isn’t offering the Brightbox package to homeowners who already have Sunrun solar panel systems. The Brightbox is only available to customers in the states mentioned above (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York) who are looking to install a new solar panel system and would like to add storage.
How Brightbox compares to the Tesla Powerwall
The Tesla Powerwall and Sunrun’s Brightbox offering are similar in multiple ways. Both batteries have lithium-ion chemistry and come with a 10-year manufacturer warranty. Neither Tesla nor Sunrun are the exclusive installers of the batteries they offer.
The companies differ on the purchase options and installation for their batteries. Tesla is selling the Powerwall independently from its solar panel systems and offers it as an add-on to any interested homeowner (whether they have an old solar panel system, looking to install a new one, or have no solar panels whatsoever).
By comparison, SunRun only offers the Brightbox package if you’re also looking to purchase solar from them. That being said, both the Powerwall and LG Chem can be installed by many different types of installation companies (and even Sunrun was previously offering the Powerwall in their Brightbox package before partnering with LG!).
Another difference between the two types of batteries is their size. Tesla’s current battery offering has a higher capacity (13.5 kWh) than what is offered by the LG Chem RESU10H (9.3 kWh). This means that, with a Tesla PowerWall, you’re capable of storing and supplying more power.
Should you buy a Brightbox with Sunrun?
With any big purchase, you want to explore your options – solar is no different. Signing up on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace can allow you to compare turnkey pricing for solar installations from different pre-screened installers, and ultimately help you find the best deal.
If you already have a quote from Sunrun with a Brightbox offering, you can have it uploaded onto EnergySage to compare with other options. Alternatively, you can also note in your account which type of battery option you’re most interested in (whether it’s the Powerwall, LG Chem, or something else) so installations companies can provide you pricing and information about that battery if they offer it.