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Battery Backups – Things to Know

Battery backups mean uninterrupted power supply for your home. They can automatically turn on when there’s a loss of power from the grid, meaning no blinking clock on the microwave or computer reboot. For most Texas residents this only saves the occasional annoyance of resetting the time on clocks and possibly re-entering passwords on your computer. However, for those that experience blackouts more frequently, power backups could prevent the headaches of searching for a new home.

Like any new technology, the drawbacks are rarely discussed openly… so that’s exactly what we’re going to do!

No Return on Investment

They may save hours upon hours of work done on the computer, they may provide peace of mind in the likelihood of a power outage, heck, they may even save your life, but battery backups will never directly provide a return on investment. If you’re looking to spend less money long-term, you’ll need to look into solar panels as your energy source.

It’s Batteries, Not Battery

True whole home energy backup will require at least two batteries, but in some cases up to eight. The amount of energy storage depends on:

  • Home size
  • HVAC, pool pump included
  • How long you need an uninterrupted backup power supply
  • Other power sources available to recharge batteries (i.e. solar)

One-story, three-bedroom homes will likely get about an hour of normal operation from two Enphase 10Ts. However, if the homeowner doesn’t care for powering the whole home and only wants to make sure the milk in the fridge doesn’t spoil, well then they can keep that refrigerator humming along for hours, possibly days.

Power Outages with Batteries

If you’ve come this far in the article, then you’re ready to learn about how the batteries power a home. They can only give out so much electricity at one time. Allow me to explain with an example: let’s say you have 85% energy left and have only been powering a few outlets and ceiling fans, but then decide to start your A/C, pool pump, microwave, and refrigerator all at the same time. First off, no judgement – what you want to do in the privacy of your own home is up to you – and secondly, you’re going to trip your battery. Although you have the energy to power everything, the surge in demand all at the same time will trip your circuit breakers and you’ll need to restart everything one by one.

Three Enphase home battery backups installed on home in Texas
Three Enphase 10Ts installed in San Antonio area
The purple ring indicates spikes of energy usage caused by large appliances like refrigerators

Here’s another example, let’s say you’re running on backup power with plenty of juice. You’ve got your A/C on, your refrigerator’s keeping that milk fresh, and your powering a few rooms. Then, all of the sudden, you get an outage. What happened? A circuit breaker tripped. This typically happens when a circuit tries to draw more power than it’s designed to carry, so it overheats and shuts down as a safety precaution. What caused the greater demand if nothing had been turned on? Probably the refrigerator. Throughout most of the day, your fridge requires little electricity to run, because it only needs to cool its contents every few hours. The well-insulated storage compartments of a refrigerator make it efficient at preserving the temperature and does not require 24/7 cooling. When the fridge does kick back on, it will cause a large surge in the power consumption, then after five minutes or so, it’ll go back to barely needing any electricity. This process of energy use can make an outage seem completely random.

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Technical Details

Batteries are incredibly intuitive and easy to use once installed. It’s getting them installed that’s complex and often requires a tailor-fitting to your home’s electrical configuration. For example, if your home’s main circuit breaker panel has no empty slots, a sub panel will be needed. Additionally, some batteries can be mixed with other versions, brands, solar inverters, and backup generators, while others do not mix well with anything else; it just depends.

By meeting with an energy expert, you can get those questions answered and find out the specifics on battery backup things to know for your home. Plan ahead and know it’ll take months from the point of purchase to the point of them up and running on your exterior wall. There are people working behind the scenes, getting appropriate permits and approved inspections, to ensure your energy storage is safe and operating up to code. While on the subject, not all installation companies are the same. Be sure to go with an installer with plenty of experience working with your utility company and your area, or else you could be waiting an even longer time.

The “Tim Duncan and Tony Parker” of Energy

To all my basketball fans out there, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re going to get batteries, then you’ll want solar panels too. Panels can help charge the batteries while the grid is down. Without a photovoltaic system, your batteries will eventually die and stay dead (at least until the grid comes back online). Most backup systems are intended to be paired with solar panels, making it a simple process for the installers and the homeowner.

In our experience, customers prefer getting power storage devices from the same company that manufactures their inverters. One equipment brand means all energy information stays in the same mobile app. However, in most cases, they don’t need to be from same manufacturer.

If you want to go all in on the Big Three, then we recommend getting the Manu as well – a standby generator.

Best Battery Backup?

Nowadays it seems every company makes battery backups. But are they all the same?

Not even close.

Each brand comes with its own quirks and limits. Having done some trial and error with different batteries, Solar Edge Pros mainly installs Enphase. The company has been around almost as long as us, so we trust they’ll continue to be in operation for decades to come. Like Solar Edge Pros, they’ve come to appreciate the value of providing excellent customer service. If an issue arises, we and the homeowner are able to resolve them quickly, thanks to Enphase’s knowledgeable and respectful staff.

Enphase batteries should have a connection to the grid (there are technically workarounds), therefore for off-grid, cabins out in the middle of nowhere we prefer to use Sol-Ark. We’ll talk more about Sol-Ark’s capabilities in another article.

Are Batteries Worth It?

Now that we’ve cleared up some of the limitations around battery backups, it’s time to consider if they’re a worthy buy. While only you can make that decision for yourself, it may help to review the benefits of battery backups.

  • Never experience a blackout
  • Peace of mind that security devices will still receive power
  • Ease of use

As energy rates rise and more people continue to move to Texas and utilize our aging electric grid, getting backup batteries can help prevent the future influx of blackouts. When you’re ready to learn more that’s specific to your energy needs, book an appointment with us and select battery backups as a topic of interest.

Your Local Solar Installer in San Antonio

Solar Edge Pros is a trusted leader in the solar energy industry. Since 2005, we have provided solar energy solutions to over 5,000 Texas residents making the switch to cleaner, greener, cheaper, solar power. We believe in the positive effects of working hard, treating people with respect, and doing the right thing. Our values transfer to both the customer experience as well as the culture within the Solar Edge Pros Family. 

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Meet The Author

David M

David M

David is an Air Force veteran with a Masters in Diplomacy from Norwich University. He is currently Solar Edge Pros' Director of Marketing.

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