A common question we receive from customers is whether or not they will continue to receive power during a power outage after we install the solar panels on their house.
While the answer is unfortunately no, the answer is also a yes...that is if you have a backup battery installed on your house.
One of the biggest advantages of installing solar panels on your house is that the power that it produces comes directly from the sun. This means a couple of different things: first - the energy that is powering your house is clean and helps decrease greenhouse gases, and second - the energy that it's producing doesn't depend on an energy plant heating up coal, going through the electric lines and finally being delivered to your house. So then why do you still have power outages when your neighbors have power outages even if you have solar panels? This is where understanding how solar works is so important as an owner or potential owner of solar panels, and more specifically how net metering works.
As shown in the diagram below, net metering is an essential element of solar production. When the sun beats down on your solar panels, that energy converts sunlight into electricity, which then goes through an inverter that inverts the power from DC (direct current) to AC (alternate current) which your house can use. Now, let's say you and your family aren't home during the day when that power is being produced. This is where the net meter comes into play: any excess power that you don't use immediately will then cause your meter to spin backwards and will go back into the electric grid. And what of that power that you produced? With the fancy net meter you will receive a credit for the amount of power that you don't use and then when you need that energy - let's say in the evening or on a cloudy day - you'll get those credits back when you're not producing any or enough energy with the solar panels. But, let's say you do have a battery backup installed on your house, what would this mean?
Now knowing the basics of net metering it'll be easy to understand what a battery backup can do for your house and whether or not it would make sense for you and your family. A battery backup system is very similar to net metering, but now instead of all of the excess power going to the electric grid the majority of that excess energy will go to storing power in your battery backup system. And what advantage does that have? Simply put, a battery backup will enable you to have power even when your neighbors lose power. Cool right? Definitely, and how cool is it can continue to store up energy without the need of a power plant nearby. So the question then is does this make sense and how much does it cost?
While the cost is dependent on the size of your house and power needs, the real question of whether you would like to invest in a battery backup system is how often do you receive power outages, and how long do they last? Once, twice, five times a year, and do they last for an hour, 4 hours, 10 hours? More than that? After that you can then look at the amount of money it costs you to endure these power outages and whether or not it would make sense to invest in a battery backup system.
Just over a year ago Tesla announced their newest product, the Tesla Powerwall, a powerful battery backup system able to keep your house running even when the power goes out. Now, just this week Tesla released their Powerwall 2, which is an even more powerful battery that is able to power your house for an even longer period of time. What does this mean for homeowners? It means that just as solar technology made significant advances over the past 10 years, look for those same advancements in the battery storage industry. We'll do our best to keep you updated on these exciting advancements and as always...we're here to help make your house an energy saving machine!