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Considering Solar and Batteries?  Welcome to Your Updated Options.

January, 2014

The solar market continues to develop at a wonderfully rapid pace.  One of the primary reasons to consider solar has always been energy independence.  For some, independence was freedom from power outages – or, even more so, complete independence from the electric grid itself.  For others, independence meant creating clean power for a fixed cost that protected them from rising energy costs with a return on investment.

For many, the combination of independence from the grid and the protection from rising energy costs was considered at odds – the costs for batteries / storage were seen as too high to create a financial return.  Furthermore, the two ideas were seen as “either-or” from a technology and cost standpoint.  There was the thought that installing batteries was essentially “all-or-none” at an extremely high cost.

Fortunately, as solar has matured over the last several years, those barriers and ways of thinking are breaking down and new options are available.

5 ways to Combine Solar and Grid Independence / Storage:

  1. No Batteries – still get power when the sun is up and the grid is down.
  2. For Existing Solar Grid-Tied Systems (Without Batteries) – add batteries with a technique called AC coupling.
  3. Install Solar With a Grid-Tied Battery Backup System (DC Coupling) – get both grid connection and battery storage from the start.
  4. Install Solar With an Off-Grid System With Batteries (No Utility Connection).
  5. Combine a Generator With an Existing or New Solar System.

Each option has significant benefits and trade-offs with varying levels of grid independence and financial returns.  Furthermore, within those options there is modularity.   You still have a choice to customize each option to maximize your investment and meet your goals.

We’ll follow-up next with a discussion on option #1 – connecting to the grid without batteries and still getting energy when the sun is up and the grid is down.