Nov 2016

How can I keep my lights on during storm season?

Here we are, in the midst of storm season. I know… we can’t believe it’s already November either. When this time of year hits, we always get an influx of inquiries from homeowners wondering how they can use solar power to keep their lights on when the power goes out every time a tree branch falls in their neighborhood. 

The truth is that solar alone won’t power your home in an outage because solar energy fluctuates throughout the day – it needs a place to store its energy so it can be used evenly. Typically, we store this power in the grid. So when the grid goes down, everything goes down. Except when your system is tied to batteries and generators, that is. Homeowners that are prone to power outages often purchase a battery backup system at the same time as their solar installation so that they can stay powered even when everyone else’s house is dark. This allows them to store the solar power that their system produces and use it whenever necessary – at night, during outages, and when electricity rates are high.

In the last few years, battery technology has undergone a revolution. The technology has been improved drastically in products such as sonnen, a smart lithium battery system. The battery system includes the battery modules, an inverter + charge controller, measurement technology and software, all in one simple, streamlined box. 

Benefits of sonnenBatteries: 

     – Source for free, clean solar power

     – Long lasting, reliable system guaranteed for 10,000 charge cycles

     – Low maintenance over time – no moving parts

     – Cleaner then burning fuel

     – Simple system to understand, set up, and monitor

Now, let’s talk batteries vs. generators. 

If you are looking into installing batteries without a generator, keep this in mind: the system will typically be designed with the panels positioned to sacrifice a small amount of your larger summer production for more power in the crucial winter months. 

A generator without batteries is powerful, and can keep everything running, but will go through expensive and dirty fuel quickly, with much of its energy wasted. 

Therefore, the best system for most people is actually a hybrid system. This includes generators, batteries, and panels tilted for optimal production during the summer. This means the generators only come on when the battery has been depleted and only runs until they are full again. 

Benefits of a hybrid system: 

     – No home conservation upgrades required, which saves you money

     – No lifestyle changes

     – Only run a generator when you need to

     – Fully utilize a generator’s power, storing it instead of wasting it

     – Fully utilize summer sunshine and get paid for excess power your roof produces

     – Free & limitless sunshine offsets generator’s usage

     – A smart solution that satisfies your energy needs with hands-off operation

     – A hybrid system is essentially worry-free backup power. 

So… how much does it cost? Cost varies depending on your home and the system you ultimately decide to install. To get a quote tailored to your home and needs, contact us and chat with one of our solar experts, but below is some general information to get you started. 

Battery systems store the solar power you generate, meaning you don’t need to worry about lawmakers changing net-metering laws. In addition, you are protected against rate increases because you are utilizing the power generated on your roof rather than pulling from the grid. 

Government incentives are offered, but only when the battery is installed at the same time as the solar energy system. While each system is great on its own, installing it all at once is the most cost-effective way to do it. 

Here’s what you need to know: 

     – Batteries earn a 30% tax credit when solar is installed at the same time

     – There can be additional tax benefits for generators when solar is installed at the same time

So there you have it: our brief guide to hooking your solar system up to batteries and generators. There are a number of combinations and system options that can satisfy your energy needs through power outages, using the energy generated on your roof to keep your life powered without inconvenience. 

Contact us at or (206) 462-1103 to talk to one of our solar experts and get more information on pricing and system options.

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