Our sun is a powerhouse—literally. In just 75 minutes, the sunlight that touches Earth could power the world’s electricity for a year. Solar power is clean, free, and available every. single. day.
The major glitch in using solar power is that it’s not consistent. In fact, it’s reliably inconsistent. We know that at the end of each day, the sun is going to check out, taking our ability to generate electricity from solar panels along with it. But what if it were possible to store energy from solar panels so that it could be used even when the sun isn't shining? We have great news for you: It is.
The simplest and best way for homeowners to solve solar power’s energy glitch is to install a solar battery that stores energy from the panels during the day so you can still use it at night. Solar batteries are charged each day with electricity generated by solar panels. These daylight hours are usually times that households need electricity the least because of natural light and the fact that many people are at work or school. During these hours, electricity generated by solar panels either goes unused, or leaks back into the power grid. With a solar battery, this energy is waiting to welcome you home to a fully-charged house, ready for whatever you have planned for the evening.
Home Batteries Can Save you Even More Money
Houses with solar that don’t also have energy storage like home batteries have no way to use the excess electricity generated during the day when the sun is shining and solar energy is in abundance. When households have solar energy they can’t use, it goes back into the power grid. Often, power companies pay households for giving back the extra power generated by solar, but not as much as they charge for the same amount of electricity later in the day, when people actually need it. Without a home battery, solar customers end up paying extra for the electricity they generated themselves, which is like paying the power company to store the energy for them so they can use it later. Instead of giving more money to the power companies, why not just store it yourself? With a home battery, solar households have this opportunity.
This eases the workload of power plants, decreases carbon emissions, and saves money for households with solar at the same time. Taking this into consideration, it’s hard to argue against Musk when he says that all solar panel owners need a home battery. Without a home battery to store excess electricity, solar owners continue to throw money and energy at the power companies. Home batteries keep electricity and money in the hands of the consumer.
Home Batteries Can Save You in a Natural Disaster
Residential solar batteries store energy so you have it when you need it. That might mean the evenings when the sun goes down, but it could also mean power security when the grid goes down. Think of it as a source of backup electricity in the case of a power outage.
As it stands, the power grid is pretty vulnerable. Weather related events cause about 70% of all power outages, including the weight of ice storms, heavy winds, and lightning strikes. Severe weather can hit anytime, anywhere, and climate experts have predicted that the unpredictable nature of nature will continue, with precipitation levels fluctuating greatly over the next decade and beyond. This isn’t great news for the grid.
Natural disasters pose a direct threat to electrical lines, but the power demanded by homes and businesses during severe weather puts heavy strain on the grid itself. The high demand of electricity to power air conditioning during heat waves, for example, has overloaded the grid and caused widespread shortages, especially in the last few decades as homes depend more and more on high levels of electricity. This is where the catch-22 comes into light: the more we rely on electricity, the greater strain we put on the grid, and the higher likelihood of grid failure. But weather, and the growing need for power, aren’t the only threats staring down the utility companies.
Home Batteries Can Save you in a Cyber Attack
In Ted Koppel’s book, Lights Out, he details the possibility and likelihood of a cyber attack on the power grid. Though utility companies work to protect the grid from outside influence, it’s certainly not impenetrable. While doing research for his book, Koppel caught mention of power grid vulnerability from various government officials, and reports that even the president himself included power grid failure when speaking about cybersecurity.
Speculation about power grid vulnerability was made tangible, however, by Felix Lindner, a German IT security guru who in 2013 conducted a simulation of power grid infiltration. Germany’s fortunate it was only a simulation. Lindner’s experimental probing gained access to the city of Ettlingen’s control room, and could have switched off all utilities for a town of 40,000 people. The simulation gave a new perspective to the sensitivity of the power infrastructure, and the reality of its vulnerabilities.
Growing demand, unforeseen disaster, and even attack could render the electrical grid useless at any point. Thinking about the potentially devastating effects of a long-term power outage makes it crystal clear why home energy storage isn’t just a great idea, it’s also a life-sustaining one.
Anna Gretz writes for Swell Energy’s blog, The Swell. Swell Energy[www.swellenergy.com] is a leading retailer of home batteries based out of Venice, California. Read more at www.swellenergy.com/blog, and follow Anna on Twitter @Energy_Annie