Residential BESS Installation Safety

Lithium-ion batteries have become one of the leading solutions for residential energy storage systems. This rapid rise of lithium-ion battery energy storage systems (BESS) brings with it great potential, as well as significant risks. These risks can arise throughout the system’s operational life, from installation to operation and maintenance. We decided to ask speakers, Gianni Commessatti and Joaquín Klee Barillas, from our upcoming 14th Energy Storage World Forum to share their views on the hazards and safety considerations associated with residential energy storage system installation.

Gianni Commessatti, B2C Solar Business Manager at E.ON Energia S.p.A noted that the main issue with BESS is indeed its highly flammable nature. Other than carefully storing and transporting the batteries, finding a suitable spot in a home to install them proves to be the most difficult aspect of safe installation. According to Mr. Commessatti, there are several guidelines that must be abided by when installing a residential energy storage unit. Some examples of safety criteria include, having windows in the room where the battery is being installed and having zero contact with boilers or home gas units. 

Gianni Commessatti will be presenting on residential energy storage customer needs, preferences and triggers to develop a product that can cater to the mass market at the 14th Energy Storage World Forum.

Joaquín Klee Barillas, researcher at the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg, stated that because there are such strict safety guidelines to follow, it is important, and legally required in most countries that only trained personnel are allowed to install batteries inside homes. He added that should a short circuit occur, the BESS must be able to safely shut down in order to avoid further damage.

Catch Mr. Barillas as he investigates fire extinguishing strategies to prevent the spread of fires in residential energy storage systems at the upcoming 14th Energy Storage World Forum.

There are several physical safety issues that must be considered when installing a residential battery. However, according to Gianni Commessatti, there are two aspects that we must pay extra close attention to. First, the distance between the electrical service panel box and the battery must be less than 25 meters, or the battery will not be able to function properly. Secondly, even if a battery is installed inside a residential property, it must be guaranteed that the temperature in that room will never drop below 5°C. This is important because if the battery is exposed to such low temperatures there is a very high possibility of it freezing and going into standby mode. If a battery does go into standby mode, it will stay locked until a trained technician comes in to restart the system.

There are also operational issues to look out for when installing residential energy storage systems. In order to assure the safe, long-term operation of residential batteries, a reliable internet connection and battery management system (BMS) are required. The BMS that is connected to the battery via wi-fi, will protect the battery from performing outside of its safe operating window. This is done by monitoring the internal state of the battery, calculating relevant data, and controlling its environment.

Both Mr. Barillas and Mr. Commessatti, agree that battery manufacturers are in the best position to ensure that trained professionals are installing their systems in customers’ homes. In most countries, it is already required by law that only certified electricians install residential energy storage systems. Battery manufacturers who already have all the necessary information about their own products would be best placed to provide safety guidelines that are specific to their products.

There has been a lot of ongoing discussion about creating a universal BESS installation best practice guideline. According to Mr. Barillas, with such a wide variety of available products, and each with its own unique design, it would be very difficult to create a truly universal guide. Mr. Commessatti pointed out that, while a universal guide would be very useful, the frequency of the electrical grid varies between different regions around the world. Not only that, the electrical configurations in residential properties can differ from country to country. For example, most households in Italy have single-phase power supplies, while houses in Germany usually have three-phase systems. However, like any electrical system installation, there are certain basic steps that must be taken to ensure general safety when installing a battery. Instead of a universal best practice guide, creating a universal checklist of general steps to take in order to avoid any possible hazards could be a more realistic goal to aim towards. 

Both Gianni Commessatti and Joaquín Klee Barillas will be presenting live at the residential component of the upcoming 14th Energy Storage World Forum.

If you want to know more about this and other topics directly from end users of energy storage technologies join us at one of these annual events: The Energy Storage World Forum (Grid Scale Applications), or The Residential Energy Storage Forum, or one of our Training Courses.

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