Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

No Grid – No Problem!

Tom Dunne and Mary Hodgkin’s solar home. Courtesy photos: Pika Energy Company of Westbrook, Maine.

Tom Dunne and Mary Hodgkin’s solar home. Courtesy photos: Pika Energy Company of Westbrook, Maine.

Around 1.2 million homes and businesses in the Northeast lost power recently after severe weather brought high winds and heavy rains through the region. It just so happens that Tom Dunne and Mary Hodgkin recently installed solar panels through ReVision Energy that was connected to the Maine-made Pika Energy Island with a Harbor smart battery.

Here is an interesting interview by the folks at ReVision Energy with this couple about how well things worked out for this Maine couple during the recent trying times when the power went down, and the power outages that occurred throughout the Northeast. They were happy to talk about how they weathered the storm.

RE: So, like many others, your neighborhood lost power in the recent storm?

Tom: Yes, and we actually lost power the week before the storm for about two hours. We were sitting having dinner and didn’t know for a few minutes – no flicker, nothing.

RE: Your battery kicked in and did the job?

Tom: Sure did – it was our first outage since the installation, and we were happy to see that the elements designated to be powered with the backup were indeed working. Same story after the wind storm we just had.

RE: It’s nice you could test it out before the big storm outage! How’s it going now?

Tom: We were without power from early Monday until 6 pm Saturday, and the solar was able to keep up with our needs. The Pika Energy Island allows us to monitor our consumption, so we can adjust our usage as is appropriate. The battery got down to about 75% one night before refueling with solar electricity the following day.

RE: How would you grade your “islanded” solar + battery Pika system?

Tom: In meeting our primary objective of providing a sound solution during an outage, the battery and solar gave a strong “A” performance.

RE: Are your neighbors aware you have backup power? What do they think?

Tom and Mary didn’t even see the lights blink during an outage at their home in Maine.

Tom and Mary didn’t even see the lights blink during an outage at their home in Maine.

Tom: Well, a nice side benefit of the reliable backup is that we were able to store medicines for neighbors that needed them kept refrigerated. Some folks came by to charge up their cell phones. Some other neighbors have generators, but it’s nice to not contribute to the noise and smell of those!

FAQs about Solar and Battery Backup

With a good 1/3 of northern New England’s electric grid knocked out for multiple days in October 2017, there has been a huge uptick in interest in solar battery backup. Some of the common questions people have are:

How much of my home can a battery backup array power?

In short, it really depends on your goal and budget. For every battery system we build, we’ll work with the customer to discuss their critical backup loads, and how long they want to design the system to power their home without any solar recharge, etc.

In most situations, we design the backup system to power a critical subset of the home’s energy needs for 1-2 days with no sun. With sunshine available, a battery can keep you going indefinitely! This includes things like running a refrigerator, well pump, boiler, limited lighting, and re-charging electronics (cell phones and laptop computers need relatively little power).

If I have grid-only solar now, can I add battery backup?

Absolutely! There are a number of options, including the popular Tesla Powerwall.

These battery systems integrate on the alternating current (AC) side, so they are compatible with any grid-tied solar inverter, and operate at extremely high electrical efficiencies, so you don’t have to worry about ’round trip’ loss as the energy converts from sunshine, to usable AC energy power, to stored battery power, and back again.

Should I get a home battery backup system or a standby generator?

Solar battery backup compares favorably with the total ownership costs of a home standby generator. Check out this chart comparing solar-powered battery vs. generator at .

Many thanks to our sponsor:

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