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Solar Plus Storage During Power Outages

Power outages in North America and the Caribbean occur all too often for most customers. Sometimes the aging grid causes unexpected but brief losses of power. Storm related power outages seem to be increasing, too. Snow and ice storms can impact grid reliability in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. And hurricanes are proving to have more devastating and longer lasting negative impacts everywhere. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 punctuated the problem for New Jersey. Most recently, in August and September of 2017 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria also proved the point.

The need for emergency power is not going away. Solar plus storage is growing in demand because it is a great solution.

Basics of Solar Plus Storage

We invite you to visit our detailed Solar Plus Storage pages where we explain principles and solutions in more detail. By coupling batteries with solar power, you add a new dimension to your ability to use sun generated energy. Traditional solar systems supply power to the home first, and transmit any surplus to the power grid. When the system is not generating enough power, your home pulls additional energy from the grid. These grid connected systems are basically using the utility power grid as a type of energy storage device.

A local solar plus storage system operates in the same way, with batteries doing the work of the grid in emergency situations. When you need more power than your solar panels can give you, the batteries fill in the gap.

Annoyed that your utility can’t even predict how long power outages may last?

Putting Solar Plus Storage to Work

Having local energy storage is becoming much more celebrated because it breaks a paradigm. Your home now has 1 basic energy source. The grid. With solar plus storage you break the utility paradigm and boost energy supply to 3 sources. The traditional grid. Your solar panels. And your batteries.

Short-term outages — As the grid ages, components fail in ways that may only cause a flicker and also in ways that could cause total loss of power for minutes or an hour, or so. Whenever there are severe weather conditions, these weaknesses are often made worse.

Long-term outages — Whenever bigger portions of the grid become unusable or isolated because of storms, the affected areas can be without power for hours or days. Physical repairs require crews and sufficient hardware availability.

Hurricane Sandy and each hurricane season after has taught us that utilities cannot accurately predict the extent of damage in any meaningful way. No matter how much is invested in making the power grid stronger, failures occur. And the wider the area of failures, usually the longer the recovery to normal power supply.

Solar plus storage gives the homeowner the best chance to endure some of the worst outages, weather related or not.

What if you were without power for days?

Why You Should Consider Solar Plus Storage

Solar plus storage systems designed by Exact Solar provide worry-free backup which automatically and seamlessly responds to a power outage event. Systems are commonly built to cover all short term outages. These systems also can be effective for long term outages when the family aggressively conserves energy and there is sufficient sunshine. When more protection against longer outages is needed, simple system upgrades are the solution. Here are some example scenarios where a solar plus storage investment pays off:

  • During a short daytime outage when everyone is off and busy at work, school, or any other routine. There is no need to worry as all backed up appliances continue to function. No thawed food, for example!
  • During a short nighttime outage. No one wants to go to bed early simply because of a hour long power loss.
  • During longer term outages where moving to temporary housing is undesirable or just not feasible.
  • During long term outages across a wide area. An occupied home is less likely a target for people who take advantage of neighborhood power outages.

Many who have invested in solar plus storage cite the following general benefits:

  • Being able to continue a somewhat normal lifestyle – keep critical communications active (e.g. cell phones, etc.)
  • Health – protecting food (cost, too), keeping well pumps active
  • Comfort – being able to stay warm or cool (limited), cook, keep certain rooms lit, keeping basement dry using sump pumps
  • Security – having a home protected during extended outages (alarms, etc.)
  • Extended resistance to weather events (some feel climate change may make it worse)
  • Avoiding the use of conventional generators using dirty fuels

Some are Cynical — Here are a Few Truths

The systems are not ready for prime time yet. >> Not true. After hurricane Irma many Floridians were well served by both their stand alone solar energy systems (designed for backup) and a number of others were well served by their solar plus storage systems.

Immediately after hurricane Sandy, people in New Jersey recognized the value and need for solar plus storage. Since then, the state has made significant investments for large scale renewable energy storage solutions. Perhaps the biggest sign of readiness is the fact that utilities like PSE&G in New Jersey are adopting solar plus storage for certain critical services.

Battery technology is not good enough yet. >> In just the past few years, there have been steady advances in lithium ion battery technology, Lithium ion battery applications are growing, and with more markets there is greater competition. Thanks to R&D investment and the exploding use in everything from portable electronics to electric vehicles, lithium ion batteries are very robust, reliable, and cost effective. In fact, in this specific solar plus storage installation, the technology is exceeding the designers’ expectations. As this article states, “In the case of Sint Eustatius, the performance of the plants exceeds the forecasts.”

Of course, lead acid batteries have evolved over one and a half centuries and can be found in most transportation and is still an economical favorite for general energy storage today.

At Exact Solar we are convinced that battery technology and energy management systems have evolved to make a solar plus storage system a great solution. We invite you to contact us to find out more. Ask us how it can work for you!

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