In New England, power outages are not uncommon. We have winter storms, summer storms, we’ve even had a perfect storm. Have you ever had all the food in your fridge spoil because your power was out? Or desperately needed wifi for your work-from-home meeting? It’s times like these when you can benefit from backup power. Historically, that has meant a gas, propane, or diesel generator. The very best of them kick on as soon as the power goes off. But many require you to roll them out of the garage, plug them in and get them started. Ugh! But what if there were a better, cleaner, and more efficient way to keep the electricity on?
Over the last 16 years, solar technology has advanced significantly. And in the last five or so we’ve seen the introduction of solar-charged batteries to the homeowner market. With a solar-charged battery, you can do some pretty neat things. For example, You can “time-shift” the sun. Meaning, you can store power your solar generates during the day and then use it when the sun isn’t shining. Another cool thing, of course, is emergency backup during power outages.
Over the past few years, New England Clean Energy has offered many battery solutions. Our most common solutions have included the Sonnen Battery and the LG Chem/SolarEdge battery options. They are quality products and in fact, Sonnen is the most widely installed solar-charged battery in the world. These products are great for time-shifting, but when it comes to backup power they typically have some limitations.
The most significant limitation is that you must install a rather large battery bank if you want to run your entire home. This means lots of money. To reduce cost, the alternative is an electrical “sub-panel” or “protected loads” panel. In this breaker panel, you include only those home circuits you need during a power outage. Things like your refrigerator, internet, and some lights and outlets in the kitchen.
More problematic is the fact that such batteries typically can’t power up high amperage items in your home like water pumps or air conditioners without “super-sizing” them. For example, the much-praised Tesla battery system requires three of their batteries to drive your typical well pump.
But recently one vendor has changed all of that.
That product is the Generac PWRcell. As many people know, the Generac Power Systems company is the leading global supplier of backup power systems – and they now offer a solar battery system as well. The heart of the PWRcell battery system was designed and created by a Maine based company called Pika Energy. But back in 2019, Generac acquired Pika as well as the power monitoring and reporting system from Neurio Technology. Generac put the two products together and added their own secret sauce to bolster quality and capabilities. Most notably, they have taken Generac’s whole house power management technology, first created for their fossil fuel-driven generators, and married it to the battery based PWRcell offering. The result is you can now have a battery that can not only timeshift your solar power but also run an entire home without compromise when the grid goes down. And all without worrying about using fossil fuels (or getting them during a region-wide power outage).
The Generac PWRcell features several storage capacity options, but we recommend the 18kWh sized system because it makes the most of the Generac whole house power management system at the most cost-effective price.
Unlike a typical fossil fuel-driven generator, the PWRcell is virtually silent and turns on in a fraction of a second. Your lights might not even flicker in the event of a power outage. This battery is also the first fully integrated solar plus battery storage system. This means all the components from the batteries to the inverter, to the rapid shutdown device as well as the monitoring system all come from the same company. So the components are not only designed to work perfectly together but also give you just one manufacturer to call should you ever need assistance. Better still, Generac offers unparalleled 365/24/7 support. Help if needed is just a phone call away.
Generac’s battery system also comes with a lot of neat features. The PWRcell battery uses smart technology in tandem with an app called PWRview so homeowners can monitor their energy habits to keep their electricity bills low. In the app system owners can view their daily consumption, battery usage, bill estimates, and savings.
The PWRcell battery is made with solid aluminum casting and is modular in design. Meaning if you opt for a smaller version of the battery it is easy to upgrade should you so choose. Or if the system needs repair or service, access and replacements normally do not require an entire swap out or rewiring.
The Generac PWRcell is also quite competitive with a traditional fossil fuel whole house / automatically starting generator. Yes, it will cost more initially, but if you install it as part of a solar system you will receive the Federal Investment Tax credit on it. In Massachusetts, there will also be an additional adder to the SMART program award. And further, there are now programs from many of the regional power utilities whereby they will pay you to use your battery a few times each year to help the grid handle periods of peak grid demand. For example, those super hot days during the summer.
If you look at all that plus the fact that there is no fuel to buy or annual system maintenance to pay for, the cost advantage starts to look very enticing. Put together, we have seen that a solar plus battery system from Generac will generally pay for itself in just a few years more than a solar system alone.
Cost aside, it’s always important to remember the environmental impact our energy use has on this planet. With the PWRcell there’s no burning of diesel, liquid propane, or natural gas threatening our environment with exhaust fumes or other pollutants.
Generac’s PWRcell is self-described as an “unmatched raw power” with industry-leading capacity and efficiency. We believe it is truly a solar battery game changer.
If you want to better understand your home’s energy and take control, prepare for power outages, and lower your energy bills: the PWRcell is for you. Get a free quote for your own PWRcell battery from us today.