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Emergency Preparedness with Solar

battery backup This blog post was featured on KSL. Many of us are interested in a sustaining energy in case of an emergency—after all, the boxes, cans, and buckets of freeze dried food we have in our food storage is going to be pretty disgusting without the ability to boil water. Other questions we have all thought about: How do I keep a refrigerator or a freezer running, turn on lights, and keep batteries charged?Traditional fuels, such as propane, gasoline, and diesel are dangerous and hard to store in large quantities, and eventually your supply will run out. Solar Power is unique in that the average, everyday person has access to almost an endless supply of it.  It comes down to a matter of harnessing the power, and storing it. Here are a few options and tips for using solar energy for your emergency preparedness. SOLAR GENERATORS goal-zero-yeti 1250-01 Solar generators have made huge strides in effectiveness, and can be the entry point into storing solar power. Solar generators are portable, and the panels can be mounted just about anywhere—giving you flexibility to move to where the sun is shining. Sami Church, an associate at Solaroo Energy explains, “For most people who are worried about a power outage or a short grid interruption, a solar generator is a great way to go. They are affordable, and will keep the essentials running for a short period of time while the power is out.” Church continues, “Saving a freezer full of food during a power outage can save a lot of money. And having a microwave to cook is also handy. Most solar generators can handle the modest use of both.” ROOFTOP SOLAR, GRID TIED Flag (Working Copy) One option that is not often explored, is the emergency power that a grid tied solar system can produce when the grid is down. Special inverters offered by Solaroo can now be installed with an emergency outlet that is live in the case that the grid is down. This allows you access to a lot more power than the generator, since rooftop systems usually have more panels producing power. It does, however, only produce power while the sun is shining. Even though you don’t have a bank of batteries, like a battery back-up system, you can use that live outlet to charge a battery—including your solar generator. “With a live outlet on your rooftop solar system, and a solar generator to store power, you can use power while the sun is shining with your live outlet, and at night or on cloudy days use your charged generator,” Church continues, “Grid tied systems save you money on your bill, AND can be designed to give you options for emergencies.” ROOFTOP SOLAR, BATTERY BACK-UP battery backup For those who don’t want to just survive during an emergency, but thrive—a complete battery back-up system will be the choice. Battery back-up systems use a bank of batteries similar to what you would find in a car or truck, just bigger. The solar power is generated from your rooftop panels, and is stored in your battery bank. These types of systems can be also tied into the grid, so that you only use the battery power in case of emergencies. This “hybrid” system also reduces your utility bill, and prolongs the life of your batteries, since you aren’t drawing the power down frequently. They can also be designed to function completely “off grid”, which is often times the only option for cabins and remote properties. Both the Hybrid and Off Grid systems will provide you with completely renewable energy for years and years (warrantied up to 25 years). The downside to these systems is that the batteries will need to be replaced after 8-12 years, depending on how much they’re used, and the cost of battery back-up is prohibitive to many—it can add 50% or more to the cost of an average rooftop solar system. Church says, “Whatever your appetite for emergency preparedness is, solar is the only reliable way to generate power over a long period of time, at an affordable cost.” So whether it’s power outages you worry about, or the zombie apocalypse, it’s time to give solar some thought.
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