So you’re going solar! That’s fantastic! Welcome to the world of making your own clean energy, lowering your energy costs, and protecting yourself from future utility rate hikes.
Once you’ve made the decision to go solar, however, it often brings up a second question: Do I need batteries for my solar system? Or maybe you already have a solar system and are considering battery backup.
You don’t necessarily need batteries, but you may want to invest in them. For some people, it’s a choice between a battery backup system and a whole house generator. Here are the top 5 reasons why you might choose to add battery storage to a solar system.
#1 You want to have power during an outage
A lot of people think that when they get a solar system, they will automatically have power during an outage. It makes sense, right? If my roof is making electricity, I don’t need Duke or FPL or TECO or whatever other utility you’ve been assigned to. But it doesn’t work that way. In the state of Florida, all solar systems are connected to the grid, and when the grid goes down, your solar system goes down, too, unless, of course, you have a battery backup system to store the excess power you make. There’s a good reason for this, which we’ll get into in #2. But the bottom line is, batteries are a great addition to your solar system if you want to have power in an outage.
#2 Batteries offer safe backup power
You are probably wondering: Why do I need batteries in order for my solar system to make power during an outage? If you look it up online, you might find people suggesting that it’s a conspiracy or suggesting that the policies are just unfair, but none of that is true. The real reason is very simple: safety. If your solar system makes power, it will power your home as much as your home needs, but what happens to the excess? Without a proper way to store it, that energy gets backfed into the utility lines. Eventually, when workers come out to service those lines, they will assume they are dead. If you are energizing a utility line that a worker thinks is dead, they could get shocked or killed. This is why all inverter manufacturers have a safety mechanism that senses a healthy utility grid, and when the grid goes down, they immediately stop the flow of power from your rooftop to your home. In cases where someone has tampered with that safety mechanism or misused a generator, the State of Florida as well as many other states have passed laws clearly stating that backfeeding a line is illegal and is subject to time in prison.
#3 You don’t have to pay for fuel
The other current option to ensure you have power during an outage is a whole home generator. This is definitely an option, but when you introduce local battery storage with a right-sized solar system, you automatically create a safe, closed loop power system where your excess power flows into your battery storage and your battery storage system can power your home after sun hours all night long. The beautiful part about this scenario is that your excess energy recharges your battery each day and your batteries power your home each night…and your fuel source is the sun. Eventually your generator’s fuel tank will run dry and you’ll have to pay to refill it. With a battery backup system on a solar array, the sun refills your “tank” for free, over and over, as long as needed until the grid comes back online.
#4 A medium-sized battery solution costs about the same as a whole home generator, but will do more
Now there is a little battery math involved here, so bear with us. A whole home generator will run 60%-80% of your home. The equivalent battery system will only run between 30%-50% of your home… but here’s where they differ: During the day, when your solar system is active you can operate at 100% (yes, even your air conditioner). Solar systems are designed to overproduce during the day because they don’t make any power at night. So, during peak hours, your solar system is sufficient to power your whole house. It’s only at night that you have to conserve because you are limited to the capacity of your battery. This limitation is less about how much power you have stored and more about how many amps you can draw, meaning how many major appliances you can run at the same time. (Major appliances are your 220s: hot water heater, oven, clothes dryer, air conditioner, etc.). So in an outage, this is what it looks like: enjoy unlimited power all day; tighten your belt when the sun starts to go down; take your showers during the day; cook your turkeys at noon.
#5 If you need more power, you can have it
Need more storage for a larger home, a 220 well pump, medical devices, or simply convenience? No problem… you can have it! It’ll just cost you a bit more. If you double a medium-sized system it will increase the price by about 50%, meaning you can have all the storage and energy freedom you want for about 150% of the cost of a whole home generator. If you simply need more power for a 220 well pump, that will add about $30 a month to your loan at 2021 prices (or use all the water you want during the day and fill up the bathtub and buckets to get through the night). Remember, a battery system is meant for emergency power, not replacement power.
So… do you want a battery system or not? That depends on you! Today’s battery systems are an excellent choice for solar storage during hurricane season and other outages, and even the most basic battery backup will ensure that your fridge stays cold, your freezer never thaws, and your lights, phones, television and fans are all active at the light switch with no extension cords.
Have more questions about battery storage? Reach out to us at 833-288-4786 or through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/coronadocustomhomes. We’ll be happy to answer them!