One evening last week I was at home enjoying the family and preparing dinner while a video of the Tour de France played in the background. Suddenly, the power went off. The lights are out, the TV is dark, the air conditioner and refrigerator are off, and there is no wireless internet signal. For half the night, 140,000 LADWP users were without electricity.
We have all experienced this situation before. For many of us, its been happening more often over the past few months. You may wonder what can a battery system do for you?
What can be done to prevent blackouts at your home and business?
You have three options:
- Find the flashlights, light some candles, and wait patiently for the power to come back on
- Install a backup generator
- Install a back-up battery system
In this article, we are going to explore how a back-up battery system can save you money and support your essential loads in the event of a power outage.
Due to technological advancements and competitive pricing, installing a back-up battery system is now more affordable than ever, and it can work in conjunction with your solar panels. Listed below are three reasons why installing a back-up battery system is a great idea.
EMERGENCY BACK UP
Back-up battery power provides juice for your essential needs when the electricity goes off. With back-up power, you need a separate essentials load panel for the electronics and appliances you want to power during an outage, for example: refrigerator, security system, lights, computers, and other items that keep you comfortable.
Load shaving is all about saving money, and here is how it works. Your battery system is programmed to charge the batteries with solar energy. That battery power is then used to offset peak time usage instead of paying higher prices to your power supplier. For example, with Southern California Edison, peak time is 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. so you would rely mostly on back-up battery power during this time. This is basically solar and battery arbitrage (buy low and sell high).
For your daily needs, you can use the power created through solar panels to charge batteries that power your home at night. The moment the sun is set, your batteries kick in and the stored energy is used. These batteries are can be used for self-consumption or for back-up battery
Here’s an Insiders Tip:
One of the most misunderstood requirements for emergency backups is to calculate the loads you want to back up for a period of time. For example, if you choose to back up your refrigerator, cable, wall outlets, and security system we need to calculate the electrical load of each and multiply that by the number of hours you want to have back-up power. This calculation is necessary to properly size your battery system in kilowatt hours (kWh). In addition, the battery back-up system must include an automatic transfer switch (ATS) which â€œislandsâ€ your back-up system. Islanding cuts you off from the grid in the event of a power outage so linemen won’t get electrocuted while repairing the utility powerlines.
We have installed back-up battery systems that power entire homes (instead of for select uses), but the systems get rather large and can be cost prohibitive. For the majority of households, sticking to the essentials is adequate.
While generators have been popular in the past, they do have their issues, including storage for the fuel, regular maintenance, placement of the unit, and loud noise when running.
Back-up battery systems have been available for years for off-grid use and for remote telecommunication applications. We are currently at the very early stages of combining grid-tied solar power with battery storage. Hardware costs are falling and new inverters/charge controllers are being developed. In addition, better software is being developed for interfacing with the grid and new manufactures are entering the game with large amounts of innovation and marketing power.
Blue Sky Energy can guide you through determining the type and size of back-up battery system that meets your needs. We have a passion for renewable energy and are standing by to discuss your battery and solar installation project with you. Remember, this is the warmest year on record, global warming and rising energy costs are not buzzwords. These are realities. Take advantage of tax credits, easy financing, and rebates while they are available.
Its easy to reduce your carbon footprint and do your part to save the earth.