Understanding Battery Storage For Your Home

Swarnav S Pujari

Founder at TouchLight Innovations

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The common misconception is batteries are a great source of backup power so that you can keep using your solar energy or electricity even when the grid.

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While it is accurate that you can use batteries to run off-grid using the solar energy you produce, it is currently among one of the more uneconomical methods to do so. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a battery pack installed at your home or building as they do provide great value when installed strategically.

Here are the top reasons what you should use battery storage for. Read to the end for a small case study of what it would cost a home to get 72 hours of backup power from batteries at a home with solar.

1. Grid Energy Usage Optimization

Depending on where in the US you live your electric utility might be charging you based on the time of day you use power. This is usually known as a Time of Use Rate structure [enter link]. The reason this exists is because utility companies incentivize you to use more electricity during different times of day to make it easier on the grid from a management standpoint. For example when everyone is waking up and getting ready for work the amount of energy demand from the grid peaks and utility companies need to be ready to support that otherwise blackouts can happen.

So how do batteries help with this?

When installing batteries any energy company can evaluate the ideal size for your home or building so that you can store/generate power at the lowest cost of electricity and then use that power that was stored when electricity rates are high. Usually the highest rates are found in the morning and evening times. So using the energy from a solar system from the day to run parts of your house in the evening and morning can provide a return on your investment into a battery system.

How does it get better? All of this optimization of how you should be using your energy at your home is covered by Virya OS– TouchLight’s energy automation software. Meaning you will always have what you need, and the battery will help keep your investment as low as possible.

2. Transitionary Power

Transitionary Power is not backup power. Backup power is when you utilize an energy storage or generation solution that can support your house/building for an elongated period. Transitionary power is when there are small blips in power production or short blackouts while a utility may be working on lines. This is necessary as we move toward a more robust, distributed grid where energy is coming from solar, wind, coal and other sources. While utility companies are very experienced in managing and predicting what they can produce at any time and what the grid will need there is already signs of growing pains. The added complexity of new generation sources on the grid are increasing the number of short blackouts and blips in energy delivery. Having a small 10 kWh battery pack for a home can help mitigate the home from shutting down operation during these times.

Of course, you won’t be able to run the entire home on one battery pack, but, by using Virya OS it can automatically shift energy load to keep most of the house running.

Using Batteries for Backup Power Case Study:

Unless you have an unlimited budget backup power from a battery can’t be justified. While the energy from the battery may have been provided by a green source of energy – solar. A backup generator that runs on Natural Gas could be a very viable option. Today a lot of genset solutions can be run quite efficiently with heavily reduced emissions.

It is important to note that as battery prices drop and become further commoditized as more manufacturers join the market expanding your energy storage reserve can become viable. However, the best backup solutions today remain to be the natural gas generators that are available in the market.

So, let’s look at a home which wanted 72 hours of back up power to protect against Northern California’s increased rolling blackouts [power safety shutoffs]

For this home which uses roughly 20 kWh of electricity every day they would need roughly 6 battery packs to keep them operational for 3 days straight. At current prices the minimum they would pay is $45,000.00 just to get added resiliency on their property.

If energy resiliency is your priority utilizing a backup generator that runs on natural gas would be the best investment as you can get one for your entire home for roughly $12K depending on what your property is like and where you are located.

Conclusion

If you are looking to get batteries installed make sure you are not oversizing your system or under sizing it as that will drastically impact your return on investment. Always focus on optimizing a solution for your home to take advantage of building necessary energy resilience and avoid paying those electricity bills.

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