Sonnen’s Eco in Australia: An all-in-one, modular, German-made battery storage system for homes

Sonnen is a German home battery storage system developer that has one of the most robust & attractive products on the Australian market. The Sonnen Eco is an expandable, all-in-one battery storage unit that includes Sonnen’s proprietary energy management software, promising to deliver significant value to homes that install one. This article provides an overview of what the Sonnen Eco has to offer.

Update July 2017: sonnen’s ‘free electricity’, flat-rate plan (sonnenFlat) is here

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A storage system with smarts from a company with experience

There are now dozens of battery storage products available on the Australian market in response to a perfect storm of conditions and a rise in consumer interest. Sonnen is one of the oldest players in the burgeoning global storage industry, with origins as far back in 2008 servicing the German market. Since this time, the company originally known as SonnenBatterie has rebranded itself as Sonnen, in part to emphasise the fact that they do much more than just batteries.

That’s not to say that they aren’t battery experts – the Eco’s battery bank has one of the best warranties of any currently available. But they’re just one piece of a system whose aim is to maximise energy value for the home that it is attached to. Based on a home’s energy consumption patterns and weather predictions, Sonnen’s system decides how and when to charge the batteries, and may even turn on devices in your home to use excess solar energy while you’re away. Sonnen’s software is also set up to perform peak time export transactions – so that homes can sell their stored energy into the grid at a premium during peak wholesale pricing events.

To date, there are tens of thousands of Sonnen systems installed globally, with at least 12,000 in Germany alone. Sonnen’s most recent generation of Eco series products – version 8.0 – is now in the process of being installed around Australia. James Sturch, Technical Business Manager for Sonnen Australia, anticipates the number of systems on the ground here to grow dramatically in the coming months.

Photo: John Krüger

One of the first Sonnen Eco 8.0 units installed in Australia. ( Photo: John Krüger)

Sonnen Eco features

  • An all-in one battery storage system for homes. Sonnen’s Eco series units include batteries, inverter and energy management system software – needing only to be installed, wired up & programmed by a certified professional.
  • German-designed & manufactured. Sonnen is a German company has been servicing the German home battery market since 2010.
  • Expandable, modular battery bank. Eco units can be installed with as little as 2kWh to as much as 16kWh of battery storage capacity in increments of 2kWh. This means a home can install the battery bank size most well-suited to their needs or budget.
  • 10 year or 10,000 cycle warranty. The Eco’s battery bank is guaranteed to operate for 10 years or 10,000 charge/discharge cycles (whichever comes first) – nearly 3 cycles per day. This is one of the best warranties on the Australian market. While a home battery will only cycle 1-2x per day in ordinary circumstances (making it difficult to actually ‘use up’ all 10,000 cycles during the first 10 years), the Eco’s robust warranty does give reasonable assurance that it will continue to operate well beyond 10 years. Sonnen puts the Eco’s design life at up to 20 years (about 1.4 cycles per day).
  • Smart software learns from how you use electricity – and plans accordingly. Over time, Sonnen’s software will come to recognise your electricity consumption patterns and will charge and discharge your batteries according to their state of charge, the time of day (particularly with time of use billing) and predicted weather.
  • Trade your stored energy on the grid for credits on your energy bill. Sonnen’s software allows owners to sell their energy into the grid at premium rates – ask your electricity retailer for details.
  • Monitor your usage and remotely control your home appliances via Sonnen’s smart phone app.Sonnen app
  • Aesthetic appearance and can be installed indoors. Sonnen Eco units come in a sleek, unobtrusive cabinet and are safety rated for indoor installation.

How Sonnen’s system works.

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  1. I currently have a new system installed and want to make the next step. The system is 5.2kw and I can see for around early spring in Melbourne its generating between 15 to 20kw of energy; weather pending. The household uses on average of 22kw daily where both my wife and I work, so consumption is typically early morning or late evening. Even though its a single phase inverter we have 3 phase power of which I am still in dispute with the installer as this should of been 3 phase ideally. I was very keen on a Sonnen system of a minimum 10kw but is it purely an expense thing not to go bigger as a 10kw unit is already an expensive item? Is there a true science to work out a size or is the idea to become totally independent off the grid a fantasy stack up against excessive cost on installing more batteries?
    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated and lastly what is the lead time of say a 10kw unit at present?
    Kind regards, Sven Westphal

    1. Hi Sven,

      You can see some indicative pricing for the Sonnen Eco and other battery products in our Battery Storage Product Performance Comparison Tool.

      Generally speaking, most households will not at this point (Sept 2016) find battery storage to make sense on purely financial grounds (we’ve identified 3 situations), and generally speaking smaller battery banks are probably better investments at this point in time.

      You’re of course welcome to request battery storage quotes through our system – just fill your details into the form on the right of this page.

  2. We have had 5 k system for the last 6 years it creates more power then we use. what is your opinion to get off the grid, due to our frequent blackouts lasting from one day 11 days.
    We have generators to top up if needed.
    Your advice will be greatly appreciated
    Thank You

    1. Hi Sinikka,

      It depends on how much excess solar energy your system produces on a daily basis. Generally speaking, to go off-grid you’ll need about 3 times as much solar and storage as you would to be self-reliant for a single day. Diesel power generation can be expensive depending on how much you pay for fuel (never mind the initial cost of the generator).

      You can check out this article – ‘Can I go off grid with solar and storage?‘ – and also check out our off-grid solar & system sizing estimator tool.

  3. This might be the answer to my search for battery storage addition to my PV solar system. Size is right with sensible expansion steps and it can deliver 2kw plus looks attractive. No details available about the integrated inverter set up. Do you know if it’s their own unit or do they use some other maker and assume the ten year warranty covers all this stuff. Are there any local companies installing these yet if not when will they be available.

    1. Hi Pat,

      Response from James Sturch of Sonnen below:

      The single phase products have the Ingeteam inverters inside them. Ingeteam are a massive Spanish manufacturer, been around for over 65 years. The central inverters at Royalla (Australia’s first multi-megawatt ground mount PV installation) were all Ingeteam. The 3-Phase systems all have Steca inverters in them, also very high quality German power electronics manufacturer, been around since 1976. All internal equipment is very high quality – batteries made by Sony specifically for Sonnen, Carlo Gavazzi kWh meters, EATON switch gear, etc!

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