Hurricane season is here, and many people are on the lookout for backup systems so they can have electricity during an outage. Portable generators are a solution, but they require gasoline (something that’s in short supply after a major hurricane), are noisy, and can be intimidating and potentially dangerous. Plus, they’re not clean and green like solar energy!
There are two great reasons to back up your home with solar batteries.
- You don’t need to worry about fuel (the sun is your fuel!)
- You don’t have to do anything. It just . . . works
How do solar batteries work?
As your solar system makes electricity, that electricity is used to power your home and to charge your batteries. Once the batteries are fully charged, the rest of the energy you make goes to the grid where you receive credit for it (a process called net-metering).
Batteries attached to solar have their own dedicated controller/inverter system. Normally, it only discharges when the grid goes down during an outage, and this happens automatically. You don’t have to do anything when you back up your home with solar batteries.
There is a setting where you can use the electricity stored in your batteries every night instead of only in an outage, but for most Florida homeowners who have net-metering through their utility, this doesn’t make sense. Discharging your batteries regularly causes wear and tear on the battery and doesn’t save you money. If you have a small co-op utility that doesn’t have a net-metering policy, your solar consultant may have different recommendations for you.
How long will my batteries last?
If you use your batteries only during outages, they will last well past the standard 10 year warranty that comes with them. That’s because the warranty was designed for daily usage. Since you are only using them for emergency power, you can expect them to last more than double that amount of time, easily, making them a great companion to a 25-year-warrantied solar system. (By the way, your solar system will continue to work decades past its warranty as well).
Why do I need batteries? Won’t my solar system power my home on its own?
Having solar panels without batteries won’t allow you to have electricity during a power outage in Florida, even during the day when you are making power. That’s because all residential solar systems are connected to the grid and are automatically disabled during outages for safety reasons. As utility workers get lines back up and running, there’s a danger of backfeeding a line from a solar-powered home and causing injury or worse. If you want power in an outage, you need storage.
Solar plus batteries give you electricity day and night.
When you back up your home with solar batteries, we recommend oversizing the system by 10%. This will still give you savings over your electric bill, but will also give you that little extra buffer when you are running off-grid.
Why the extra buffer? During an outage your solar system will have the job of powering your home all day as well as charging up your batteries. If the weather is cloudy or overcast, having that extra 10% will help make sure it can keep up with demand.
At night, when you are running on battery power, you will have to consider what loads you want to power. The refrigerator and freezer are no brainers; you’ll want to power them. Air conditioning is usually next. Nobody wants to be without cool air at night in an outage. While your typical central air conditioner in a Florida home is a heavy load for your batteries to meet, we can keep your battery system to a reasonable size by introducing less taxing cooling systems that you can use at night, such as a freestanding portable air conditioning unit in the bedroom.
Back up your home with solar batteries
Remember, your solar system can power your A/C all day long; it’s only nighttime that you have to reduce your loads to not overtax your batteries. A good solar consultant will be able to help you build a back up plan for your home that keeps your home powered and comfortable day and night during an outage.
Want to learn more about solar and solar storage solutions? Give us a call at 833-288-4786 or fill out the request a quote form at www.coronadosolar.net. We’ve helped many Florida homeowners weather the storms, and we can help you, too!