Here at Third Sun Solar we are finding that our residential customers are increasingly interested in purchasing battery storage with their solar energy system. Battery systems are valuable for many reasons. They provide peace of mind to individuals who experience frequent power outages. Especially in rural areas in Ohio, grid outages are common. Solar batteries help families regain control over their home lives by providing a source of power that doesn’t rely on the energy company.
Is Your Grid Reliable?
Some people don’t know that The National Electric Code mandates grid tied solar systems shut off during a power outage. Why? During a power outage, the power utility sends out repair crews to find and fix the points of failure. Power leaking onto the grid lines endangers linemen and women fixing the service issue. Therefore, utility rules mandate that in the event of a power outage, solar arrays must automatically shut down. Solar systems have detectors that sense whether power is coming across the grid. Solar systems automatically shut down when the grid fails. This is a done to protect utility workers.
Because batteries store excess solar energy, they still function during a power outage.
What are battery backup systems?
Battery backup systems are a lot like they sound. Batteries are used as an emergency power source during power outages. Solar energy created from you array charges the batteries, then the batteries power your home. These systems are generally not designed to backup whole house loads, but rather critical loads such as lighting, sump pumps, furnace blowers, refrigeration, etc. Third Sun Solar installs battery backup solutions to for homeowners who request backup batteries in addition to a solar PV system.
By design, solar battery systems provide backup power during grid failure. Solar batteries do not typically support nighttime loads.
Batteries are much like a car, if you park in the garage and never pay attention to it, it will not work when you need it. Depending on the type of battery technology you choose, there may be some battery maintenance such as topping off fluid levels and equalizing the batteries (lead-acid batteries). Other types of batteries, like lithium-ion batteries, require much less maintenance. Batteries need to cycle, this means that the power levels need to reach a low point to get charged to full again. Additionally, battery charge levels need observation both during use and while not in use.
They level of attention your solar batteries will need depends on your choice of technology. Compared to lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries are virtually trouble free, however the inverters and communications systems will need modified as time goes on and new features become available.
A solar battery customer will have a higher level of engagement with their batteries than your typical solar homeowner. Maybe you have a technical mindset & are interested in being involved with the solar battery system. If you’re interested in a hands off system, a generator may be a better choice to achieve your backup power goal.
We are in a new era of solar energy storage. Lithium ion batteries are a wonderful technology and new innovations like the Tesla Powerwall are making their way into the market. Don’t forget- the 30% federal tax credit drops after 2019– and solar battery purchases count in this tax credit.
For customers who experience frequent grid outages and want to regain control of their energy, batteries are a great solution. Comfort comes from knowing that you’ll have the power you need even when the grid is down. With a battery system, energy is reliably ready for you at any moment.