Backup Power and EV Charging

Homeowners in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are no strangers to storm related power outages. This can make for frustrating hours or even days in the worst cases. Increasingly people are taking control of the occurrences by investing in alternate means to generate power when the power grid will not.

Two types of backup power systems have become most popular with today’s homeowners: batteries and generators. Batteries or array-based storage batteries are mounted in a ventilated and secure place in the home behind the electrical meter.

They can be charged from any source of electricity, which makes them an ideal addition to a solar energy system.

There are different battery backup designs aimed at meeting various needs, for both short-term and long-term relief from an outage.

Generators are small and sometimes portable power plants. They require combustible fuel to produce power. They can be integrated to start automatically or manually depending on the level of security and response needed.

When generators are chosen, the power production must match the designed home energy usage per hour. As set by the size or capacity, the generator can
continuously supply a level of electricity as long as fuel is available. If using an existing supply piped to the home, duration is technically unlimited. Many small
and especially portable generators require that a tank level be maintained.

Battery backup systems can be charged from the grid. However, their capacity is limited to the discharge limits allowed until the grid power is active again to
recharge. A solar energy system plus battery backup significantly improves the versatility. Often storm related outages are followed by clearing skies. A solar
energy plus backup can be designed to extend the available battery power in those circumstances.

A Quick Look at Batteries & Generators

There are a couple of obvious and primary differences between battery backup and a generator for your home or small business:

  • Batteries are silent. Generators create noise;
  • Batteries require electricity to recharge. Generators need a steady fuel supply, often already available for heating homes.

Beyond that, the differences get more complicated depending on how secure the home must be and for how long. Some factors that will influence a choice for battery backup or local generators include:

  • What to power during outages. The more that is powered, the more energy per hour is needed;
  • How long to buffer against the outage;
  • Anticipated frequency of interruptions. If infrequent, typically the lower cost option is best;
  • Convenience;
  • Availability of recharging – whether fuel or electricity

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Becoming More Efficient – Electric Vehicles

Transportation is the second-most significant contributor to negative emissions including carbon emissions in the U.S. The power industry ranks at the top. Homeowners choosing to go solar are motivated by the impact of clean energy generation of power they consume. The portion that also choose to invest in an electric vehicle often are able to reduce their personal emissions impact and carbon footprint to something approaching zero.

So, it is natural that many consider investing in a home EV charging system at the same time as a solar energy system. Depending on make and model, EV charging can add 10% or more electricity demand to the average home. Appropriately sizing a solar energy system ensures this extra energy is covered by solar electricity generation.

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