There are plenty of reasons to be excited about home solar power. After all, who wouldn’t want to help the environment, potentially increase their property value, and future-proof variable energy costs? Yet an estimated 5-7 million U.S. homeowners are sitting on the sidelines when it comes to this powerful alternative energy source. Why? Concerns about reliability are a key reason solar hopefuls don’t fast-track their shopping journey. A common and frustratingly persistent myth is that using solar power means taking your home “off the grid” and thus, cutting the cord on a predictable power supply or modern conveniences like central air, pools or hot tubs. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth!
Solar Power Means Batteries Are NOT Required
The average American home uses 903 kWh of energy per month, or 32.25 kWh per day. That need could be met by running a 7kW solar system for around five hours per day. The problem is that a family’s highest demand for electricity rarely occurs at exactly the same time that their home’s solar system is generating the most energy. When the sun is high in the sky and solar panels are producing more energy than can be used, that energy either flows back to the utility grid – racking up credits for panel owners in areas with net metering – or must be stored in a battery in your home.
Unfortunately, existing battery technology adds a considerable cost to today’s ultra-affordable solar power systems. In the U.S. for example, the market-leading battery comes with a whopping $7,000 price tag for just 14kWh of storage. That’s not an easy expense to justify for less than a day’s worth of “off-grid” power.
This is why the majority of the 1 million+ home solar power systems currently in use in this country do not store energy in batteries. Instead, American homes with solar power remain connected to the utility grid. Modern solar rooftop systems will work hand-in-hand with the utility grid to ensure you have all of the power you need every hour of the day, whether the sun is shining or not. Solar homeowners still receive a bill from their local utility, though it is just for the electricity needed above and beyond what the solar system generated, as well as any other fees charged by the utility.
Of course, since a solar home is not completely disconnected from the utility, it will lose power in the event of a grid-outage. So you’ll still be in the dark with your neighbors after a bad storm. The good news is while they’re firing up the generator with harmful fossil fuels you can rest assured that sometime in the very near future, advances in solar battery technology and affordability will mean more eco-minded people like yourself can stay “green,” even during a brownout.
Keeping The Lights On With Solar Power
Another common misperception is that residences with solar power have to curtail the use of energy-draining luxuries like spas or pools. While it’s always a good idea to find ways to slay those energy vampires whether you use solar power or not, you can bet that solar homeowners still swim, relax and keep cool just like everyone else.
A south-facing solar system can easily offset 70-80% of a typical home’s electricity needs and be used to power things like appliances, electronics, lighting and many heating and cooling systems. Those who either don’t have the roof space or sunlight exposure to support their whole-home energy needs still make a smart move by going solar.
When you install a solar energy system, your roof becomes a little power plant – generating some of its own electricity straight from the sun. As a result, installing solar panels helps your home draw less energy from the grid so there’s plenty of surplus to run energy-hungry appliances — like pool pumps and heaters – that sometimes can’t be linked to a solar power system.
If you’re working with the right solar company, your provider will take a holistic look at your energy needs and property – not just size up your roof. At Crius Solar for example, our dedicated energy advisors will design a customized solar system to support your home’s energy needs – today and tomorrow — as well as suggest energy efficiency improving measures that can further reduce your electric bill while preserving your comfort. We also look forward to staying in touch over the next 20 years+ to suggest resource-saving tips based upon a proven legacy of energy expertise.
Two Steps Forward, No Steps Back
Remember, harnessing the power of the sun doesn’t mean getting back to basics. You’ll still have a reliable energy source and all the modern comforts of home. The only difference is you’ll be making less of an impact on the planet and potentially, your wallet.