A few weeks ago I heard going solar is a way of “harvesting” electricity. Isn’t that neat? It’s like farming, and in many ways going solar is a type of farming. We use solar panels to generate electricity just like a farmer uses their land to “generate” carrots, tomatoes, peppers, etc. Unfortunately, in terms of storage and preservation, energy harvesting (or backup power) is still in the neanderthal stage when we really need to get to the refrigerator stage. How can we get there?
Generators and back up batteries! The modern person’s way of preserving energy.
I got to speak with a homeowner who went solar with us a year ago that also decided to buy a generator and two batteries. We were a little taken back by his desire to go for a generator AND batteries – people usually go for one or the other. When we asked why both, he replied: a redundancy in systems creates safety.
Very true. No system or structure is flawless 100% of the time, which inevitably creates vulnerabilities and potential issues. In this article, I will explain the different forms of energy preservation to help you decide which one (or ones) will work best for you.
Backup Power #1 – Generators
Generators are infamous for being loud and clunky, but they’ve come a long way over the years and have earned the reputation of most dependable in backup power. The Generac Generators are consider the best in the field and offer various sizes from 7.4kW to 60kW, each coming with a 5-year warranty (or 2,000 running hours, whichever occurs first). The Generac website lists the 7.5kW at around $2,049.00, which only includes the generator itself and the transfer switch. The cost of the installation, taxes, and shipping tacks on at least $1,500 more. It’s best to have a Solar Edge Pros consultant evaluate your property to determine an accurate price. Some of the factors we consider include:
- Is there a natural gas line or will the property need a propane tank?
- How far will the generator be from the gas meter and electric box?
- What items will need primary access to electricity and which will need secondary?
- What are future expectations for the homeowner?
When you purchase a backup generator with your solar panel installation, the 26% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) can be applied to the cost of the generator, which is practically like a 26% off coupon (more about tax incentives here). Currently, generators are being backordered and won’t likely arrive for another year after placing an order, making this option the longest delay between buying and installation.
Backup Power #2 – Batteries
The backup batteries are great for those looking for something installed quieter and don’t want to sacrifice some yard space. Batteries fit neatly against the wall near your electric meter or in your garage. Enphase and Tesla both offer ten-year warranties (see why we prefer Enphase IQ batteries over the Powerwall in the video below), and are installed without the aid of a plumber. The battery has two downsides compared to generators: the price and longevity.
A reasonably priced backup battery can cost around $9,000 before installation. Fortunately, the 26% solar tax credit takes off about $2,000 bringing the price to $7,000.
A battery’s storing capabilities vary depending on how often you charge and discharge it. Tesla Powerwall, for example, goes through more power cycles than an Enphase battery, meaning it accrues more usage over the same period of time. This has to do with how the battery connects to the solar panels. You can learn more about these difference in the video below.
Backup Power #3 – Enphase IQ8’s
The Enphase IQ8 microinverter is the cheapest means of getting backup power. Using this state-of-the-art technology enables your solar panels to produce electricity you can use even when the grid is down or not connected to the panels. There’s only one downside: there needs to be sunlight on the panels. Usually solar panels can still provide electricity at night, but that’s only if the grid is functioning thanks to net-metering (more on net-metering here).
Learn more about Enphase products here
Schedule a free solar evaluation with Solar Edge Pros here
Get more information on the cost of residential solar here
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