Whole Home Battery Backup Without Solar Panels

Battery Backup Systems Without Solar Panels

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Are you tired of the noise and hassle of running a portable generator during power outages? As a Florida resident, there’s a smarter, quieter, and more efficient way to keep your lights on and your fridge running when the grid goes down. Battery backup systems are the modern solution to power outages that might just be the perfect fit for your home, especially if you currently use a portable generator or even a whole home standby generator for backup power. And yes, air conditioning is on the table!

Why Consider Battery Backup Systems?

Whole Home Battery Backup

A massive whole home battery backup system with 48 kWh of storage capacity and 24 kW of continuous power output. It’s capable of running two AC units silently and seamlessly!

Battery backup systems store energy that can be used when the power goes out. Unlike noisy, fuel-guzzling portable generators, these systems are silent and emissions-free. They’re also more efficient because generators burn fuel whether energy is being used or not. Your electrical needs are variable. Yes, a generator will burn more or less fuel depending on the load, but it works more efficiently when there is a steady load that is between 50-75% of the generator rating. So why not use batteries as a buffer and reduce or eliminate your generator run time?

What do we mean by a buffer? Imagine if the power goes out and your battery backup takes over. This can happen seamlessly, with the lights not even flickering. Unlike generators, there is no delay for inverter-based battery backup systems when you install a hybrid inverter that incorporates a transfer switch. It’s much like a small computer UPS that takes over instantly, but much larger and more powerful.

The battery will deplete as you use energy, and you will obviously need a power source to recharge it. Usually, we pair batteries with solar panels, which is a great option. But what if you don’t have enough roof space, your roof is heavily shaded, or you don’t even own the roof, like many condo owners? For short outages, the battery alone might be enough to carry you through the outage. If not, you could use a portable or whole home standby generator to recharge the battery. The generator could run for a few hours to recharge the battery and then shut off, where the full battery would again take over and begin to power your home. This can dramatically reduce generator run time, save fuel, reduce maintenance, and improve your quality of life when the grid is down/

A Game-Changer for Condo Owners

For condo owners, the challenge of installing a whole-home generator can be daunting, if not impossible, due to space and HOA constraints. Battery backup systems offer a viable alternative. They’re compact, can be installed indoors (usually in a garage), and don’t require extensive modifications to your property. This means you can enjoy the benefits of backup power without the logistical headaches that come with traditional generators. If you need to recharge the batteries, you can wheel out and plug in a portable generator.

Maximizing Efficiency with a Small Generator

One of the most exciting aspects of battery backup systems is their ability to work in tandem with a small generator. Instead of running a portable generator 24/7 during an outage, you can use it to efficiently charge your batteries. This maximizes fuel burn and ensures that you have a steady, reliable source of power that can last for days, depending on your usage and system size.

Even if the generator is not large enough to start up heavy loads, like air conditioning, the inverter and battery can step in to boost power output for short durations. That’s where the buffering aspect of batteries comes into play.

Think of it this way: Imagine that your home needs 48 kilowatt-hours per day in a grid outage scenario. That averages out to a uniform load of 2 kW. But that is not how energy is consumed in homes. Sometimes, the home may need 6 kW or more, and sometimes, it may need 1 kW or less. If you used an 8kW generator, it would need to run 24/7, burning a lot of fuel and causing enormous wear and tear.

Now imagine that you installed a 20 kWh battery. When utility power is lost, you could run your home for several hours before you even need to consider rolling out a generator. When the battery is depleted 75%, you could bring out that same 8kW generator and charge the batteries for three to four hours to bring them up to full capacity. Then, the battery would take over again. The generator could cool down and rest. You could even go to sleep in quiet comfort without worrying about waking up in the middle of the night to refuel the generator.

What About Other Scenarios?

You could consider other pairings that might be better for you. In the scenario above, you could run a smaller 3kW generator 24/7. Remember, we only need to generate 2kW on average. The batteries and inverter would just be there to handle big loads like air conditioners. Because the battery and inverter can handle a big startup surge, you could run your home on a much smaller generator than would be otherwise required.

This also applies to whole-home standby generators. Instead of requiring a large 36kW unit, you might be able to get away with a 20kW unit. There is an important nuance here. The National Electrical Code requires whole-home generators to be able to handle the home’s entire load or use load management, which can be complicated and expensive. Battery systems are considered standalone systems, not standby systems, so they only need to be able to start up the largest load, not the home’s whole load. This opens up a lot of possibilities for smaller, less expensive systems to handle your backup needs without carving out critical load subpanels or employing load management devices.

Tax Advantages

Unfortunately, a battery backup system installed without solar panels does not qualify for tax credits. Batteries intended to be recharged by solar energy qualify for a hefty 30% tax credit. But if you intend to recharge from a generator or the grid, you would not qualify. This is where condo owners lose out, but homeowners can benefit by also installing solar panels.

That’s not to say that standalone battery backup without solar panels is not cost-feasible despite the lack of tax incentives. When compared to a whole-home generator, batteries with a portable generator can be cost-competitive and may provide a much better user experience. There are pros and cons. It’s important to consider the tax incentives when making your decision.

What if your intention is to recharge your batteries with some sort of portable solar panels that you bring out during an outage? That is where the rules are a bit murky, and you should consult a tax professional for advice. Just because batteries can be recharged from the grid or a generator, I think it comes down to your intent. If you truthfully intend for the batteries to be recharged from solar energy, it is possible that you could qualify for tax incentives. But again, consult a tax professional, as we cannot provide advice on IRS rules.

Is a Battery Backup System Right for You?

If you’re looking for a quiet, efficient, and reliable backup power solution, a battery backup system might be just what you need. It’s particularly appealing if you’re a condo owner or if you have limited space for a traditional generator. Plus, with the advancements in battery technology, these systems are becoming more affordable and accessible for the average consumer. You can backup your whole home or just critical loads. The size of the battery is directly related to what you want to power, and for how long, taking into account what recharging source you will have available.

Even if you can’t have solar panels, the same technology that goes into seamless backup power for solar panel owners can be employed in a standalone way. With a large enough battery, you can go for many hours, or even days, without a recharging source.

Ready to Power Up?

As a Florida-based solar contractor, we’re excited to offer battery backup systems as a smart solution for your backup power needs. We are also a licensed electrical contractor, so we can handle the entire job, including carving out critical loads, installing load management, or doing any other electrical modifications to make batteries work for you. Whether you’re looking to complement your existing solar setup or seeking a standalone backup option, we’re here to help you navigate your options and find the best solution for your home.

Don’t let the next power outage leave you in the dark. Contact us today to learn more about how a battery backup system can bring peace of mind and convenience to your life, all while being a good steward of our environment.

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