Installing solar isn’t the only significant financial choice to be made when it comes to home energy control.
After a summer of catastrophic weather and wildfires, and now in the midst of hurricane season, more Americans are growing accustomed to power outages. That means now is an excellent time to think about a home backup power storage system.
Extreme weather and climate change, as well as local utility dependability and cost, may all play a role in this financial choice.
“Backup power may be warranted depending on regional factors and geography, as well as the state of the infrastructure there,” said Benjamin R. Dierker, executive director of the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure, in an email.
Considerations in coastal locations, for example, include the durability of storm or sea barriers, the quality and capacity of drainage infrastructure, and the hardiness of the electrical system, he added. In other locations, extreme weather events such as high winds, tornadoes, and ice may result in fallen trees or downed wires, a danger that is considerably reduced if utility lines are underground rather than above, according to Dierker. Pre-emptive shutdowns due to bad weather or other causes are another possibility.
According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, there have been 23 documented weather/climate disaster occurrences with damages surpassing $1 billion in the United States as of Sept. 11, with a graphic showing the locations of these disasters. Two of these incidents were flooding, 18 were severe storms, one was a tropical cyclone, one was a wildfire, and one was a winter storm.
Consider the following while looking into home backup power options:
Appliance requirements during power outages
According to Vikram Aggarwal, chief executive and founder of EnergySage, which helps consumers compare clean home energy solutions, a good first step is to consider the most important appliances you are running on electricity and how long you might realistically need them to run in the event of an outage.
If you only require a few hundred dollars in backup power, a tiny portable fossil-fuel generator or battery may suffice. However, if you want your home to function normally, you should look into whole-house options.
Because electricity goes off in certain regions rarely or for short periods of time, location might be an issue. However, in certain places, such as California, Texas, and Louisiana, the situation might be quite different. California residents, for example, may receive an up-to-date sense of outages in their region to determine their risk.
Battery power contrasted. fossil fuel
If you’re not opposed to using fossil fuels, there are various categories to choose depending on your power requirements. A portable generator, which typically operates on gasoline or diesel, can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. There are also more expensive portable versions that are generally quieter and more fuel-efficient, and can power numerous big appliances for extended periods of time. How long it takes is determined in part by the appliances you’re powering.
Meanwhile, a whole-house backup generator is permanently installed and automatically activates when the electricity goes off. This generator type is frequently powered by propane or natural gas, and prices vary depending on size, brand, and fuel type. There are alternatives ranging from $3,000 to $5,000, but the total might be significantly more with installation. If you predict interruptions for several days, this might be an excellent alternative; theoretically, the generator can operate for as long as fuel is available, but it may be necessary to take it down for engine cooling.
Battery-powered backups might be a fantastic alternative for the environmentally conscious because they are more ecologically friendly and quieter. People may get lower-priced smaller to mid-size battery solutions that can last for several hours for a few hundred dollars, give or take.
According to EnergySage, there are also battery-powered solutions for whole-house backup that perform many of the same duties as traditional generators but do not require refilling. According to EnergySage, consumers should budget between $10,000 and $20,000 to establish a home battery backup system. This may generally last eight to twelve hours, or even longer if you’re not using it to power equipment like air conditioning or electric heat.
Incentives that reduce the cost of acquisition and installation
Incentives can play a role in determining which sort of backup to use. According to Aggarwal, the Inflation Reduction Act allows homes to earn a 30% tax credit for installing battery storage even if it is not linked with a solar system.
Other state and municipal incentives may be available as well. In certain regions, such as California, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York, utilities pay users to use their batteries at peak seasons, like as the summer, according to Aggarwal. Consumers with larger batteries—10kWh or more—could earn hundreds of dollars each year, according to him.
EVs as a residential backup power source
Some electrical vehicles may be used to backup important objects or, in some situations, an entire residence.
According to the business, Ford’s F-150 Lightning, for example, can power a home for three days or up to ten days under specific conditions. When the necessary equipment is established and the vehicle is connected in, stored electricity is easily transmitted to the residence in the event of a power outage. GM, for one, recently announced that it will extend its vehicle-to-home bidirectional charging technology to its complete portfolio of Ultium-based electric cars by model year 2026.
Jim Farley, Ford CEO, has previously stated that the F-150 Lightning’s capabilities as a source of backup power for households and job sites were a “eye-opener” for the carmaker.
“If you’re contemplating spending $10,000 on a whole home gas generator system, why not think about an EV with this capability instead?” Rewiring America, a charity dedicated to electrifying homes, companies, and communities, said Stephen Pantano, head of market transformation.
Pantano suggests that consumers looking for a new stove consider an induction type with an inbuilt battery to power it or other devices such as a refrigerator on an as-needed basis. “This opens up new possibilities for power backups that weren’t there before.”
Solar-plus-storage can result in long-term cost reductions.
Home solar panels are growing increasingly popular, but most are connected to the grid, and backup power requires some type of battery storage, according to Sarah Delisle, vice president of government relations and communications for Swell Energy, a provider of home energy solutions.
This is where a solar-plus-storage system may help. It allows people to use the electricity generated by their solar panels during the day at a later time, which is especially useful for people who live in areas with frequent power outages, according to Ted Tiffany, senior technical lead at the Building Decarbonization Coalition, a group that promotes moving buildings away from fossil fuels.
According to the US Department of Energy, a solar-plus-storage system costs between $25,000 and $35,000, depending on the size of the battery and other considerations. It is quicker and less expensive to install the panels and batteries at the same time, but it is not needed. According to the Energy Department, homeowners who have already installed solar panels and wish to add storage may expect to pay between $12,000 and $22,000 for a battery. Federal tax benefits are available to consumers who purchase a battery on its own or with backup. Some states provide additional incentives for solar batteries.
Tiffany suggests thinking about the long-term savings possibilities as well. He knows a family member who spent roughly $8,000 on a fossil fuel-powered whole-house generator with electrical modifications. Investing in solar instead, he believes, would have been more cost-effective due to long-term energy savings and tax breaks.
Customers may use EnergySage to identify contractors and learn more about solar and incentives. They may also go to Switch is On, a website that assists customers in finding information on electrification and efficiency measures for home equipment that encourage renewable energy integration.