Adding battery storage answers the what-ifs of going solar

Adding battery storage answers the what-ifs of going solar

Last Updated: July 8th, 2020 at 2:14 pm
Read Time: 4 Minutes

If you are considering the addition of solar panels to your home, one of the biggest things to consider is whether to include battery storage with your system. If you’re the type of person that loves to plan for the future, adding battery storage can address a lot of “what ifs.”

Among those questions: What if the power goes out? What if my utility company ends net metering, the 1-for-1 credit I receive for sending excess electricity back to the grid? What if my utility company incorporates time-of-use rates that makes electricity drawn from the grid at certain times of day more expensive than others?

Those are all valid concerns, but every one of the concerns can be addressed with our new battery solution. Put simply, adding a battery is a way to future-proof your home for all the what-ifs. We’ll address these what-ifs one by one.

What if the power goes out?

POWERHOME’s battery solution automatically kicks in when the power goes out. During installation, a homeowner selects 4-6 circuits that he/she wishes to power in the event of an outage, and those circuits are powered by the battery. Each circuit must be 20 amps or less, so our battery can’t support larger items such as HVAC units or hot water heaters. But it can power things such as a refrigerator, stove, sump pump or home office. If you have experienced numerous outages in your area, you know how costly it can be to replace spoiled food or clean up flood damage.

Those 4-6 protected circuits will work off of battery power for as long as the grid is down, with your solar panels continuing to power the circuits and refill the battery as needed. Your solar system will go in an idle state if your battery is full and your protected circuits do not need additional power. It will never backfeed the grid and cause potential problems for workers repairing inoperable lines.

What if my utility company doesn’t have net metering, or ends net metering?

Net metering is the 1-for-1 credit that those with solar systems can receive when their solar panels generate more electricity than their homes can use at any one time. That extra energy needs to go somewhere, so it goes back to the grid, and you get a credit for it on your power bill. Most large utility companies offer net metering, but many smaller utility companies do not. Utilities that don’t offer net metering will offer a rate for excess electricity that is less than the full retail price, sometimes 50 percent less or even lower. That limits the value of excess electricity, so it makes more sense for you to use the energy yourself. That’s where sizing your system correctly comes into play.

What if my utility company incorporates time-of-use rates?

Many utility companies on the West Coast employ time-of-use rates, which charge customers more for electricity when the demand for power is higher (hot summer days are an example), and less when there is lower demand. The cost for providing power in peak times is more because more of a utility company’s resources need to be running to meet the demand. The tiered pricing structure is no different than ride-share services such as Uber or Lyft that charge higher rates when more people need rides.

Your battery can insulate yourself from time-of-use rate spikes by simply setting your system to prioritize drawing from your solar panels and battery during these peak hours. By powering your home with your solar panels and battery first, you can avoid the full brunt of those higher rates, making your solar energy work smarter for you.

One of the best things about our new battery offering is that it’s modular. Our base system provides 8.6 kWh of backup power, but additional batteries can provide up to 17.1 kWh of power — double what a base system is. Adding an extra battery or batteries is easy — a technician just adds it to the existing battery cabinet — no additional space is needed to house it.

Whether a battery makes sense for you right now depends on your answers to these what-if questions. But if you’re interested in preparing for all scenarios, adding a battery is the easiest way to have ready-made answers to those potential future questions. Future-proof your home now, and your worries will be less in the future.