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How To Prepare for Winter Power Outages

Winter Weather Has Arrived

December is here and so are threats of snow and ice storms. These past few years have been quite energetic for many parts of the Mid-Atlantic area; and frozen precipitation does much more than make the roads hazardous for driving. It is rather easy for the traditional electric grid with its overhead power lines to experience outages due to downed lines when the winter weather contains freezing rain and ice, or high winds. If mobility remains difficult due to snowy road conditions, outages can extend from hours to days. This is especially true if you live in sparsely-populated parts of the area, where it often takes longer to fix all the grid problems that can occur over many miles of wires.

No one likes to be without electricity at any time of year, but especially during winter. We all like to have our Internet communications, lighting, and other infrastructure that electricity can provide. Additionally, many heating systems require electricity, even if fueled by natural gas or fuel oil. Families sometimes invest in a generator in order to handle these needs for a brief time, but listening to it run and consume fuel all day long can be annoying. For a solution that can assist in the longer term, it makes sense to deploy a grid-tied solar electricity array, including a reliable battery back-up as part of the system.

Why Grid-Tied Battery Back-Up is Useful in Winter

The Mid-Atlantic states have the dubious honor of receiving the brunt of both hurricanes in the summer and fall as well as substantial winter storms. One of the best ways to gain energy independence is through a grid-tied solar electricity system with a battery back-up.

With a correctly-configured solar power system, your solar panels will keep a battery unit charged and ready. These batteries vary, but larger units can maintain your important devices powered indefinitely. The best part is that when a battery back-up system is installed with solar panels, the battery starts charging as soon as light can reach the panels without the need for a generator, even during the winter. You may want to remove some snow from them at times, but generally, you’ll be back to producing electricity and maintaining your household very quickly.

The expenses can rack up quickly when you experience a home power interruption: food goes bad in the freezer or fridge, and you may run into issues of pipes freezing or other costly problems. Maintaining uninterrupted power via a solar electricity system with battery back-up can allow you to be comfortable even if you have to spend a few snowy days off the roads. This is why having a self sustaining battery backup will not just save you inconvenience and annoyance; it will actually save you time and money that would otherwise be spent on generator fuel, re-buying spoiled food, or getting a professional to repair the frozen pipes. Having a battery back-up makes you independent from electrical grid problems and the stress that comes with it.

Grid-Tied with Battery Back-Up = Best of Both Worlds

While a battery back-up makes you independent during an outage, hybrid solar energy systems are also capable of net-metering during calm weather conditions. Your battery back-up provides you independence when the electric company is experiencing an outage, but the grid-tie element of the system provides you excellent value and payback during regular everyday conditions.

A grid-tied system allows you to use your own solar electricity “first.” If you have used all the electricity being produced by your solar panels, you still are able to use the traditional power grid, such as on cloudy days or days when you need a lot of electricity. It creates a flexible system that never “runs out” of energy. You can start with a small solar array and you have the flexibility to add panels and other components if you determine that you want more free energy, all while still getting everything you need in “extra energy” from the grid.

At the same time, the process of net-metering allows you to actually bank energy to the grid when you have more available than you are using. Consider, for instance, a great sunny day when it is temperate outside; on days like this, if you aren’t using large appliances such as HVAC, you might be generating more electricity than you are using. This electricity flows back into the electricity grid and actually builds an energy credit on your bill, and you get that power back for free when you need it, such as at night.

Residential and commercial building owners alike applaud the value of having grid-tied solar in combination with battery back-up. If a business needs to maintain constant power to the critical systems such as data servers, a battery back-up allows uninterrupted power even if you no longer have sunshine or a functional grid power. On the better days, however, companies truly appreciate the flexibility of being able to use more or less energy than their solar panels generate, without worrying that their array isn’t the perfect size for the consistent needs.

Hire a Qualified Contractor for Your Battery Installation

As you can imagine, making sure you have quality components, the right kind of battery system, and the right amount of solar for your needs can be a tricky calculation. Making sure that energy flows uninterrupted in conditions like winter-storm outages is also a process that requires training and skill. It’s valuable, for that reason, to work with experienced and certified PV installers and battery experts who can help you get exactly what you need from your system. They can help you achieve your goals while maximizing the flexibility and independence you can exercise in your energy situation.

Mountain View Solar employs qualified, experienced installers, so we are a great choice for your project. mtvSolar has more battery experience in the mid-Atlantic region than any other contractor, having frequently installed batteries since 2009. Don’t delay – the storms are coming.

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