POWER OUTAGES – PART 1
WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?
Ever since PG&E announced they may be shutting off power for two days or more during extreme weather events, we’ve been getting lots of calls and emails asking about batteries and generators.
“How much will it cost to add batteries to my solar system? How much does a generator cost”? These are questions we’re hearing a lot these days.
The answer to either question is “it depends”, and on a lot more things than you might imagine!
The short answers are –
- The cost to add battery backup to a solar system depends on how much is being backed up, for how long, and whether it’s a brand new or an existing solar system. For instance, adding batteries to a new solar system to power a refrigerator, lights and some outlets for a TV and internet service for four days with no sun could add $12,000 to the total installation cost. Details matter. For just one example, a 1991 20 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer will use six times more electricity than a new Energy Star model so, if that’s what you have, you’ve reduced your days of autonomy in this example from four days to less than two. Adding additional refrigerators or freezers, air conditioning, a well pump, and laundry equipment could increase the cost by $50,000 or more, depending on the type of batteries used.
It takes different, more costly equipment to work with batteries, so it costs less to add battery backup capability to a new solar system than an existing one because you don’t need any new or additional equipment.
- A generator is typically the cheaper option but, like battery backup, the cost depends on what you want running when your power gets shut off. What you’d need might range in price from a few hundred dollars for a small gasoline generator and some extension cords to $20,000 or more for a whole-house propane or natural gas-powered generator. There are also UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) units that can provide immediate power to small critical loads such as computers or life-safety devices.
Don’t fall for quick and easy answers. A knowledgeable expert will take the time to make sure you’re getting what you need, no more, no less.
Public Safety Power Shutoff tips – https://prepareforpowerdown.com/
For more on your backup options during a power outage, sign up to receive our monthly newsletter. Part 2 – Practical Considerations is coming out next!
Sustainable Energy Group prides itself on being a Grass Valley, CA based solar company that engages with the community through honest business relationships. We love to provide information on local issues that effect our whole community such as PG&E power outages. As a Northern California solar utility company addressing local energy efficiency issues, we are happy to provide information about batteries, battery backup systems and generators.