When the power grid fails, solar + battery will have your back

In recent years, we have seen plentiful and undeniable impacts of climate change. Average Earth surface and ocean temperatures continue to rise; sea levels are rising at accelerating rates; there have been severe heat waves, forest fires and droughts in southern and central Europe; global wheat and maize yields are on the decline; wildfires are fiercer and more numerous in the West; and, as we all know too well, the number and severity of hurricanes during the hurricane season are rising. But recent examples of climate change-related crises have hit us where it really hurts: in our power grid.

In California, heat waves and wildfires have caused millions to lose power, as utilities have been forced to shut off power. Last week, extreme cold in Texas (can you imagine -11 Fahrenheit? In Texas???) caused much of the grid to fail.

With more extreme weather forecasted to affect us in coming years and too many utility companies either unmotivated to upgrade their infrastructure – due to deregulation or legislatively protected monopolies – and/or simply raising rates as they choose, many consumers are wondering what they can do to take control of their energy supply and family budgets. We have a suggestion: a solar energy system plus battery storage.

On its own, while a grid-tied solar energy system will offer many benefits, it will not protect you should the power go out. (During an outage, with repair crews sent out to find and repair the points where the grid failed, solar systems are automatically shut down when the grid is down.) One way to ensure you have power when utilities are down is to pair your solar energy system with battery storage. This hybrid solar system enables you to store excess energy produced by the system for use at a later time. And you can control the systems for which power will be allocated, whether that be HVAC, refrigerator, or other much-needed appliance. Even better, when a longer-term grid failure occurs, the batteries will recharge every day from the available solar power, eliminating concerns about fuel supplies for traditional backup generators.

While stories of the Texas catastrophe will continue to be told in the coming weeks, there have been a number of social media posts by homeowners who were able to draw crucial power from their Tesla home batteries as the power outage stretched on in Texas. One Tesla owner screenshotted his power use, drawn from 22.5 total backup hours, over the course of the outage. A Tesla EV owner actually loaded his family – including his newborn and dog – into the car and used it as a warm sleeping pod overnight.

Of course, there are limits to how long your power might last, depending on how many batteries will fit into your home and your budget. But in the case of extreme heat or cold, even a modest store of energy could provide profound relief. and the daily recharge from solar ensures long-term resiliency.

Regardless of whether a state’s power woes are related to deregulation, aging infrastructure, or weather that goes well beyond any expected norms, most Americans are at the mercy of the utilities – or single utility – to meet their energy needs. According to Quartz.com, while Texas is second only to California for residential solar systems, that translates into just 1% of households with solar. After the month Texas has had, we think that number may just rise a bit in the near future.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of a home battery, such as the Tesla Powerwall (we are a Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer), give us a shout: info@brilliantharvest.com. We’re always happy to talk solar!

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