Battery Backup Power
The next generation of battery storage has arrived, giving solar customers clean, reliable, and efficient backup power that also lessens their daily dependence on the power grid.
Grid-tied solar electric systems are a great way to save money using free power from the sun. However, most grid-tied solar arrays are designed to shut down when they lose grid connection. This means when the grid is out, your solar panels are too – even if it’s sunny out. It’s important that this happens, to protect line workers from harm, but solar owners miss out on power production nonetheless.
When you pair solar electricity with battery storage, you can supply critical loads in your home, or even function as an off-grid “energy island.”
Why Install Battery Backup Power?
Load shifting – Powerwall can charge during low rate periods when demand for electricity is lower and reduce demand charges during more expensive rate periods when electricity demand is higher.
Back-up power – Assures power in the event of a grid outage. Quiet, affordable backup power without the burning of fossil fuels.
Self-consumption of solar power generation – Store surplus solar energy during daylight hours and use that energy later when the sun is not shining. Reduces your dependence on the utility grid, and reliance on Net Energy Metering.
How Battery Backup + Solar Power Works
We currently offer a number of options for battery storage depending on the design goals of the customer. Here are a few:
ReVision Energy is a Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer, which means we offer a customized solar-plus-battery solution that enables you to access the free, abundant power of the sun at your home and reduces your reliance on fossil fuels. We have Tesla Powerwall 2 units available now across our geographic region of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
With the Powerwall you can store solar energy generated during the day for use at any time. During the day, the sun shines on your solar panels, charging your battery. At night, your home draws electricity from your battery, powering your home with clean, sustainable energy 24/7.
Installing a Powerwall with ReVision Energy is easy. We take care of everything from system design to permitting, installation, financing, and ongoing customer service.
Powerwall consists of a 14 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, liquid thermal control system, an integrated inverter and software that intelligently dispatches electricity when it’s needed most. The unit mounts seamlessly on a wall or on the ground, indoors or outdoors, and is connected to the grid to export excess energy, maximizing your opportunity for economic benefit.
Kristen and Josh of Rochester, NH had a Powerwall installed and wrote us to say:
“Going solar had been a dream for us since we bought our house 10 years ago, but we really wanted to store our energy, too. With the Tesla battery, and our panels, we were able to make that dream a reality! We love that we are able to teach our daughter about alternative energy while providing a cleaner, greener future for her!”
We also spoke with Kate Olson and Matt Cheney who paired a Powerwall with their solar array at their 1870 farmhouse in Freeport, Maine:
“We live in a relatively rural area where there are power outages. A lot of people get generators for backup, but we’ve never wanted to do that.
Unlike a generator, the Powerwall is completely silent and powers on in a fraction of a second during a grid outage.
For us, we’re excited about capturing energy and creating electricity in general but then there is something nice about feeling like you’re actually using the solar energy you are producing rather than throwing it out to the grid.”
Pika Energy: Maine-Made Clean Backup Power
To have a grid-tied solar array provide power during an outage, you need additional equipment to supplement the grid-tied solar inverter. One option is the Maine-made Pika Energy Island, a system that combines an islanding inverter, solar optimizers, and a Coral or Harbor smart batteries to turn your home into a microgrid.
The Pika Energy Island allows you to bank your solar power when it’s sunny and use it in the evening, giving you more control over your own power and an insurance policy against future changes in utility rates.
Under most conditions, the solar provides grid-tied power, powering your home when the sun is out, backfeeding power to the grid when there is excess and taking power from the grid when more power is needed. When the grid goes down, a set of critical loads – such as a well pump, boiler, or refrigerator – is kept running by the battery and solar, as well as a generator if you have one.
Technically speaking, the Pika Energy Island is a “DC-coupled” clean energy backup solution, meaning, it uses high-voltage DC electronics to communicate between the solar inverter, solar optimizers, and battery bank. Pika Energy’s capabilities are quite sophisticated however in a retrofit situation (adding on to solar customer that already has an inverter) there is some added cost as the existing solar PV inverter would need to be replaced.
Why Pika Energy Island?
- Long warranty life on all components (10 yrs extendable to 20 for the inverter, and 25 years on PV Link) backed up by local support from a Maine-based company
- Cost-competitive with other grid-tied solar components
- U.S.-made inverter for grid-tied solar, ready for the seamless addition of next-generation smart batteries
In 2017, around 1.2 million homes and businesses in the Northeast lost power after severe weather brought high winds and heavy rains through the region.
Tom Dunne and Mary Hodgkin didn’t even see the lights blink when an outage occurred at their home in Maine. We sat down with Tom afterward to talk about their installation of solar panels connected to the Maine-made Pika Energy Island with a Harbor smart battery, and how they weathered the unexpected storm:
RE: So, like many others, your neighborhood lost power in the recent storm?
Tom: Yes, and we actually lost power the week before the storm for about 2 hours. We were sitting having dinner and didn’t know for a few minutes – no flicker, nothing.
RE: Your battery kicked in and did the job?
Tom: Sure did – it was our first outage since the installation and we were happy to see that the elements designated to be powered with the backup were indeed working. Same story after the wind storm we just had.
RE: It’s nice you could test it out before the big storm outage! How’s it going now?
Tom: We were without power from early Monday until 6pm Saturday, and the solar was able to keep up with our needs. The Pika Energy Island allows us to monitor our consumption, so we can adjust our usage as is appropriate. The battery got down to about 75% one night before refueling with solar electricity the following day.
RE: How would you grade your “islanded” solar + battery Pika system?
Tom: In meeting our primary objective of providing a sound solution during an outage, the battery and solar gave a strong “A” performance.
RE: Are your neighbors aware you have backup power? What do they think?Tom: Well, a nice side benefit of the reliable backup is that we were able to store medicines for neighbors that needed them kept refrigerated. Some folks came by to charge up their cell phones. Some other neighbors have generators, but it’s nice to not contribute to the noise and smell of those!
Future-Proof Solar Investments
ReVision Energy has been following the developments in home battery backup technologies for years. In the early days, the only kind of solar energy systems were off-grid (battery-only) systems, and then with the advent of grid-tied inverters, the obvious benefits of tying up to the grid became clear.
Now, technology has come full-circle, and a grid-tied solar customer can enjoy the benefits of being tied to the grid, with the resilience and independence of having battery support.
We carry a number of battery solutions to accommodate the variety of equipment we have installed for 7,000+ customers in four states. For older grid-tied PV systems, something like the Sonnenbatterie offers the simplest interconnection and a clean, convenient package. For new systems, who want to support a Maine-based company and set up their system for battery backup either now or in the future, the Pika Energy Island is an excellent choice.
Customers who want to maximize the financial savings of their solar investment can start with a straight grid-tied array for maximum savings and lowest upfront cost, then invest later in a home battery backup solution when they are ready. While there is great battery technology on the market already, we expect that this segment of solar technology will rapidly improve over the next 5-10 years.
Learn More About Home Battery Backup & Energy Storage
ReVision Energy strives to stay at the top of all trends in renewable energy, and solar backup power is one of the hottest topics right now. Our engineers worked with our editorial team extensively for an in-depth, three-part series on the current state of battery backup storage and its implications for the homeowner, and the grid, writ large: