Solar customers are best prepared for power outages

solar customers best prepared for power outages
Solar customers are best prepared for power outages. Photo © blueringmedia

Did you know that a solar panel system with battery back-up is a great way to prepare for an unexpected disruption in the grid? Whether the outage is caused by weather conditions like a hurricane, tornado or ice storm, or by strain placed on the grid during peak hours, solar customers fare better than most.

For solar electric homes and for those who depend entirely on the grid, there are a few important steps to take so you will be prepared for power interruption, regardless of the source of the problem.

Make a habit of always keeping batteries in cell phones and computers charged and ready to use. When the power is out, limit use of devices to critical communication. Change the power setting on your phone to low power. Whenever possible, communicating by text rather than voice helps, too.

If you don’t have an emergency kit already, assemble one and store it in a safe but readily accessible place. Check the kit regularly and replace items that have may be past their “use by” date or in poor repair.

It’s a good idea to sit down with your family and create a plan about what to do when the power goes out. When the lights go out or flood waters are rising and everyone is under duress it’s too late to decide about what essential tasks need to be taken care of and who’s best suited to handle them. Planning is especially important if you have young children or an aging parent in your home.

If there is someone in your home that depends on a life-support system, contact your utility company, let them know about your situation and find out that they offer their customers in terms of emergency support.

Does your city have an emergency alert system? If so, sign up for it to get text messages when there are threatening conditions in your area. Check with your utility company, too, and sign up for any emergency alerts they offer.

If you are a customer of Austin Energy, sign up here for text alerts about power outages

https://austinenergy.com/ae/outages/get-outage-alerts

A little time spent planning can help you and your family avoid stress and maybe even enjoy a short break from the constant connectedness of modern life.

If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to explore how installing a solar panel system can help you save money on electricity and be better prepared for the storms and power outages that spring frequently brings.

Residential solar storage necessary to reach energy goals

Residential solar storage is one of the keys to increasing the use of solar energy. Solar storage, provided by battery systems, makes energy produced during sunny days available so that it can be used at night and on days when sunshine is limited.

Using current technology, it’s possible for homeowners to customize the residential solar power system so that the solar energy they generate can be used in emergencies. To get the best coverage, a qualified solar consultant can help.

Here are a few things to consider in designing a residential solar storage (battery back-up) system

  • How much capacity does each battery provide, or how many kilowatt hours of energy can be stored?
  • What is the batteries power rating? This tells you how much power the battery can deliver at one time.

The answer to these two questions is used to determine how many batteries are needed to reach your goals. Residential solar batteries are designed to be highly customization to individual needs. For example, if your goal is to keep a few crucial appliances running for a long time, then your residential solar storage system should have higher capacity and a lower power rating. However, if you need to keep all your appliances running for a short time, then lower capacity and a higher power rating would be recommended.

An additional factor to consider in designing your residential solar storage system is the depth of discharge (dod) of the batteries. Dod is shorthand for how much of the battery capacity will be available. The depth of discharge also determines how long your batteries will last before they need to be replaced. The dod of the batteries in your system are a critical factor in how well your system meets your needs.

In designing your system, your solar consultant will provide you with choices that match your goals, along with information about expected life of and warranties for all components in your system.

In 2017, much of the research related to solar power generation is aimed at reducing the cost of storage of solar generated power. The Austin SHINES program is part of that effort. Of course, SHINES is an acronym – it’s shorthand for Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV. This initiative, funded by the Department of Energy, is aimed at improving storage and other technologies so that Texas and other states can take advantage of their abundant solar resources. The potential for our state is huge, with most cities across the state receiving approximately 200 days of sunshine per year.

Get started now in taking advantage of that abundant energy by scheduling a solar consultation.

Photo copyright: zstockphotos

Residential Solar System: Sunlight to Electricity

Do you know how a residential solar system converts sunlight to electricity? The photovoltaic (PV) panels collect sunlight, then use a piece of equipment called an inverter to turn the light into usable energy for you and your family. It’s a fairly simple system, but putting all of the components together into a productive system requires special expertise. That’s why you want to work with a professional solar system company.

The inverter is one of the most critical parts in your residential solar system. It takes the direct current (DC) electricity created from the interaction of light on the photovoltaic cells and converts it into the alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used in your home and by the grid.

What determines the inverter that your installer will recommend?

As with any home improvement project, it depends! The first part of your solar consultation will be about what your solar power goals are. Here are just a few of the questions you will cover:

  1. Do you want a grid-tied system?
  2. Are you planning to create a battery back-up plan so you are protected in case of catastrophic weather?
  3. Is your home at a remote location that requires a free-standing system (not connected to the grid)?

The decision about what size and type of inverter to install depends on your answer to these questions, along with some others that will guide the design of your system. Your solar consultant will have recommendations of inverters and will include that information in your proposal.

In general, you will want to purchase an inverter large enough to cover demand now and in the future. As your needs change, you can add additional panels for increased capacity if your inverter will accommodate the expansion.

Important points to remember about your residential solar system inverter:

  • The inverter should be covered by a warranty, just like the other components of the system.
  • Your PV panels will last much longer than the inverter, so expect to replace it during the useful life of your system.
  • As a critical part of your residential solar panel system, any financing, rebates, incentives or tax credits you qualify for will help cover the cost.

Schedule your consultation today – there’s no better time to go solar!

Solar Benefits Year Round

Did you know solar benefits don’t disappear at the end of summer?

Fall is here, and the days are getting cooler and shorter. While your solar panels are most productive during long summer days, you can gain solar benefits year round.

First of all, even though days are shorter and the sun is less intense, solar panels are actually more productive in moderate temperatures. It seems counter-intuitive, but photovoltaic cells are capturing and converting light, not heat, into electricity. Temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees are perfect for solar panel productivity. This means that shorter cooler days can equal the energy output of longer, hotter ones.

The real key to having your solar panels at maximum productivity is the design and installation of your system. The size and placement of the panels on your roof and the angle of adjustment make a big difference in how much power is generated. That’s why you want to choose a company that has expertise and experience in solar system design and installation.

An additional reason that fall is a great time to go solar is that a solar system with battery back-up is the best way to deal with power outages. There are a range of weather related causes for power outages:

  • Hurricanes – what’s referred to has Hurricane Season stretches from June 1 through November 30. These storms can cause power outages from high winds and flooding, too. As we all know from recent experience, a big storm can leave thousands without power for several days.
  • Freezing temperatures – while we don’t experience the long stretches of winter that our northern neighbors do, every Texas winter generally brings some freezing temperatures. Even a slight dip below freezing combined with rain can result in dangerous roadways and downed power lines.
  • Lightning storms – Texas experiences more lightning strikes than any other state and has 15 deaths from lightning so far in 2017. Lightning can cause power outages in several ways ranging from issues such as trees falling across powerlines and power surges that knock power out. These outages are general of short duration.

Getting your solar system up and running makes sense. And, don’t forget, you can claim tax credits you might qualify for on your 2017 return. Check out this blog post for information about tax credits, incentives and rebates: http://bit.ly/SolarIncentivesEtc .

The solar company you want to do business with has a knowledgeable, trained staff who spend the necessary time and have the skills they need to create the best, most productive installation for your home. Your solar consultant should also be able to discuss the technical aspects of your specific installation with you.

Contact us today!  http://bit.ly/GetaSolarConsultation

Solar best with backup

The drama that unfolded on the Texas Gulf coast late last week has many people looking for ways to prepare their home and family for a natural disaster. Here in Texas, installing solar panels is a great first step to take. Homes with solar panels are always among the first to have access to electricity when storm related damage causes disruption of service after a hurricane or other type of natural disaster.

Taking the simple step of adding a battery backup system can expand the benefit of solar even more in situations where electric service can be disrupted for an extended period.

It’s estimated that over 200,000 homes in Houston and surrounding areas are still without power one week after the storm made landfall. There have been extraordinary efforts to get electricity and other essential services restored but the damage effects a huge geographic area and resources are stretched thin.

For the individual home or business owner, having solar panels with battery back-up is about more than just keeping the lights on. A battery back-up system that avoids losing power can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars during an extended outage. Just think about all the ways we depend on electric power from charging our cell phones and other communication technologies to keeping our food at safe temperatures to powering medical devices like dialysis and breathing machines.

As with any solar project, the best way to get started is to schedule an appointment with a trained solar consultant to determine how much power you need to have access to during an extended disruption in the grid. While it may be comforting to imagine that your battery system will allow life to go on as usual, your battery system will be designed to keep your essential services operating.  This type of system is designed as a temporary back-up, not an off-grid solution.

After estimating the amount of power needed, your consultant will calculate the amount of battery storage needed and explain the different option available. Your specific needs with help your consultant determine which one to recommend for your project.

To get the most value from your solar panel system, it’s best to incorporate the battery back-up with the initial installation. Act now, and you will have your system in place when before fall and winter storms have you shivering in the dark!