Blog Post

Tech Tips: Solar + PHI Batteries

Solar + PHI Batteries:

One of the greatest advantages of adding PHI batteries to a grid tied PV system is the ability to store solar generation and use it when and how you want it, long after the sun has gone down to 1) mitigate high utility rates, and/or 2) use as back-up power when the utility has failed (catastrophic events), or turned off your power (Public Safety Power Shutoffs).

Without energy storage, renewable sources of power (solar, wind) are intermittent and unreliable, but so too is the grid in catastrophic events and general power outages.

With batteries, solar generation can be stored during the day and discharged at night to offset high utility charges during Time of Use (TOU) or Peak rate periods. In addition, the same PHI batteries can be used as back-up power during emergency utility failures or planned shutdowns, keeping the lights and other ‘essential’ electrical loads ‘on’ for hours, days or weeks at a time.

Adding batteries to a grid tied PV array results in a hybrid battery-based system that has a battery-based inverter online. This configuration allows you to create a dedicated ‘essential loads’ sub-panel that is tied to the hybrid battery-based system for seamless, uninterrupted back-up power when the grid fails. An essential loads sub-panel can integrate many electrical loads, but typically includes a refrigerator, water pump, lights, television, modem and even some heating sources.

A hybrid battery-based system also allows for an automatic transfer without external parts. This creates a smooth and seamless transition from coverage of all loads in a home or business to only the essential loads during a grid outage.

During a utility outage, a standard grid-tied solar system without batteries will shut down along with the grid, causing you to lose access and control over all the power being generated from your PV array. Grid connected PV arrays without batteries send all the solar generation to the grid, not your home or business.

The addition of SimpliPhi batteries and battery-based inverters to your PV array allow you to maintain access and control over your solar generation during an outage and use it how and when you need it most, providing seamless backup power for your essential loads (equipment) connected to the dedicated sub-panel. With PHI batteries, the battery-based inverter ‘islands’ from the grid during an outage, effectively turning your home or business into a mini-grid, capable of generating, storing and utilizing power on your terms, for extended periods of time during a grid outage. This configuration keeps your power ‘on’ so that your essential loads, as well as the PHI batteries, are charged on a daily basis throughout a utility outage.

Finally, once the utility reinstates the grid, the battery-based inverter will reconnect your PV array to the grid automatically, allowing you to regain full access to all the electrical loads (equipment) in your home or business, not just the essential loads through the dedicated sub-panel. The hybrid battery + PV system will continue to generate and store power, again offsetting daily TOU and Peak utility rates while also preparing you for the next utility outage.

In sum, adding a PHI battery system to an existing grid-tied solar array allows you to take control of your solar generation and use it when and how you need it most, offsetting high utility rates (TOU & Peak) as well as critical back-up power for essential loads during an outage, maximizing the value of your investment for years of use. This value and the cost savings that PHI batteries create apply to new PV installations as well. In fact, it is often more cost effective to design a hybrid battery + PV system up-front, rather than retrofitting an existing one. However, both new and existing PV installations, when combined with PHI batteries, save you money and allow you to be secure, knowing that you can use your solar power (stored in the batteries) to offset daily utility rates – and protect your home or business from losses during a utility outage.

Adding a Generator as your Generation Source (with or without PV)

If you have a diesel or gas generator, these can be integrated into your whole house hybrid system as well, creating another source of generation to support your essential loads through the sub-panel, charging the PHI batteries during an outage when weather limits solar generation.

When Solar Is Not an Option:

PHI batteries can also provide daily cycling to offset exorbitant utility rates, as well as back-up power during grid outages, even without solar generation when solar panels are not an option. Generators can be integrated into these PHI battery only systems as well.