Last winter’s storm in Texas caused power outages lasting for days. Oppressive heat is causing unprecedented demand on electric grids across the country with blackouts the result. Many people are considering the peace of mind that comes with not having to depend on the utility company for their electricity needs.
What can you do to safeguard your home and family?
Adding solar to your home allows you to produce your own clean energy. Usually this energy production is shared with the power company’s grid when the sun is shining. They credit you for the energy you share with them when you are producing more energy than you are consuming. At night or later in the year, they give this energy back to you. This is called a “net-metered” system.
In remote areas that are not connected to the grid and for mobile applications like a recreational vehicle, solar energy is stored in batteries for use in the evening. This type of system is called an “off-grid” system.
Batteries can also be useful for grid-tied systems. There are hybrid systems that combine net-metered solar with batteries. The energy stored in batteries can be used for back up when the grid is down. That energy can also be used to supply energy when power company prices are higher due to time-of-day billing or to trim peak demand loads to save on utility costs. Power companies have different types of billing plans that solar and batteries can be tailored to work with.
In areas where a power company won’t allow net-metered connections due to infrastructure constraints, solar and batteries can be used to provide “zero-export” or energy “self consumption”. In this scenario, the energy is consumed on site while being produced or stored in the battery for later use. If the solar energy is not enough to supply demand in the home, the energy is drawn from the batteries or if needed it can be provided by the power company. The power company does not receive any of the energy produced by the sun.
Batteries, while expensive, can be a useful part of a complete solar home energy system. Ask us how we can integrate them into a system that can save you money and provide additional security when used with solar energy!
Written by John Duprey
Solar Consultant with a certificate in solar design and installation