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How to Use Battery Storage to Create Resiliency to Power Outages

Publish Date: April 22nd, 2024

If you’ve been feeling uncertain about your power recently, we totally get it. And if you’re having questions about the stability of the grid, it’s a great time to consider solar power and battery storage.

Home solar power is an opportunity to take control of your power (and its cost) and battery storage offers you resilience as uncertainty with the grid and utility providers increases.

Locally, Coloradans experienced a major wind event this month that caused hundreds of thousands of homes to be without power, some for over 36 hours. To prevent another devastating loss, like the Marshall Fire, Xcel executed planned power shutoffs.

But this is a concern beyond the local sphere that is becoming more frequent. Texans experienced a huge grid failure in 2021. And high winds in New Mexico caused outages this year.

At Namaste Solar, we want to get solar power onto the roofs of the Colorado homeowners that can benefit the most. Since we’re locally owned and operated, we have a vested effort in ensuring that our community has a resilient energy infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather events. And only with solar and battery storage can you keep your power on when the grid is out.

Let’s explore further.

What Is Battery Storage?

Battery storage refers to a battery that gets electricity either from your solar system or the grid, that is later discharged to power your home, most often when the sun isn’t shining or there’s a grid outage.

There are a few ways that battery storage can be used:

  • To keep your home powered when there’s a grid outage What some installers don’t clearly explain is that even if you have solar power, you’ll still experience outages when the grid goes down. This is because solar systems are configured to shut down when the grid is down to protect utility workers. With battery storage, though, you’re protected from power outages. Batteries sense when the grid is down and start supplying stored power immediately. It’s a seamless process – the lights won’t even flicker and your clocks won’t reset. With this set up, your home’s electric source becomes a closed loop and is truly self-powered. Unlike generators powered by fossil fuels, home battery backup that is paired with solar requires no fuel or annual maintenance since it’s charged by the sun.

  • To avoid time-of-use pricingThis is how you can further reduce your utility bill. Some utilities now bill their customers using time-of-use billing. For those customers, electricity used during peak hours (usually from late afternoon to early evening) is most expensive (2 to 4 times more than off-peak). With battery storage, you can use the energy that your solar system generates during the day to charge your battery(s). Then, discharge that energy to power your home when the grid electricity is the most expensive during peak hours.

Solar plus battery storage is an incredible way for you to build true energy independence. It puts you on the path to a zero-emissions home by reducing your overall reliance on fossil fuels and the power grid. And the more widespread adoption becomes, our communities will experience increased resiliency.

What Battery Storage Options Does Namaste Solar Install?

Currently, we offer Tesla Powerwall 3 (TPW3) installations as an additional option with any new solar system and some pre-installed systems. For the price and technology, we believe that the TPW3 is the best battery on the market right now.

This is the third generation Powerwall, and we want to share a few new developments that make it the strongest performing product on the market. They are:

  • It has double the output, allowing it to back up your whole home – The older models had an output of 30 amps per Powerwall. The latest generation can output 60 amps at 240 volts per Powerwall. (They both have 13.5 kWh capacity.) This means that with the previous generation if you have an air conditioner that runs over 30 amps, you couldn’t run it. But with the TPW3, you can. So, if you’re conscious of what you’re running in the event of an outage, one Powerwall 3 can back up your whole home.

  • It’s more affordable than ever – In the TPW3, there’s one inverter and it’s integrated into the battery. In previous generations, there could two or more separate inverters, which drove up the price. Now, a Tesla Powerwall 3 plus a solar system ends up being only a little bit more expensive than it would be for just the solar.

  • The battery chemistry has changed, making it safer – The older models were made with LNC (lithium, nickel, and cadmium). The PW3 is made with LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate). This new chemistry means that the batteries are less prone to thermal runaway because they don’t release oxygen if they catch fire. We always prioritize installing the safest possible products. For customers who have the TPW2, your battery is safe. However, as more and more safe products become available, we will always move with the market to provide those updated product versions.

Right now, we’re not offering other battery solutions because we want to bring you only products that make financial and technological sense. There are a lot of companies making batteries right now, but many aren’t cost-effective or are new and technologically untested. Our team continues to evaluate the evolving battery market, and we will update our offerings if options come to market that are beneficial to our customers.

Let’s explore the benefits of battery storage and solar power.

How Does Battery Storage and Solar Power Pair Together?

All of Namaste Solar’s systems are grid-tied, even those with battery storage. This means that every system we install is connected to the grid. Let’s explore the different levels of grid connectivity.

  • Utility-Tied and Utility-Fed Home These homes don’t have solar, and they get their power through the grid from the utility company. They’re vulnerable in the event of a power outage because if the grid sustains damage or goes through planned shutoffs to prevent damage, they’ll lose power. They’re at the mercy of the utility company to be up and running again.

  • Utility-Tied Home with a Home Solar System – These homes have solar on their roofs. During the day, they’re producing power when the sunlight hits the panels on their roof. At night, they’re not producing power. And when the grid goes down, they shut-off, by design. This is a safety measure to prevent energy from being fed back into the system and to protect utility workers who could be working on power lines during an outage.

  • Utility-Tied Home with a Solar System and Battery Storage – These homes have solar on their roofs and battery storage inside the home. During the day, they produce power to consume and any excess power charges their batteries. At night, they’re using their battery power rather than utility power. And if the grid goes down, they’re using battery power to run their home and experience a seamless transition without even a second of blackout.

As our weather events become more uncertain, the resiliency of the grid could be impacted even more. And having a home solar system and battery storage is the way to ensure that your home’s power remains on when the grid is out.

Is Battery Storage Worth the Price?

With the current financial incentives available, including utility rebates, federal tax credits, and state and city rebates, the net cost of installing battery storage is now comparable to installing just a solar system. To get an idea of what those incentives are, check out this blog post. You can enjoy further savings with the Xcel Renewable Battery Connect Program. Fort Collins Utility has a battery incentive and the City of Denver has a battery rebate, too. And since the Tesla Powerwall 3 has an integrated inverter, it brings the system’s price down significantly. For some customers, the net cost difference between solar only and solar + battery storage is around $2,000.

So, if you’re a homeowner who’s looking for energy independence from a potentially unstable grid, battery storage plus solar is the avenue for you. You’ll be getting reliability in your energy source, powering your home from clean energy, and offsetting your yearly electric costs. And you’ll be getting all that for a price that’s the closest it’s ever been to a solar system on its own.

Our non-commissioned home solar advisors are thrilled to be able to bring you battery storage and solar together. To see what it’d look like for your home to be truly energy independent, get your quote today.

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