Published on February 5th, 2018 | by Danny Parker
February 5th, 2018 by Danny Parker
One alternation of complaints in the deathwatch of Blow Irma came from some individuals who had installed solar electric PV systems and again were clumsy to use the produced solar adeptness aback the filigree was down. Generally, homeowners accept spent bags of dollars for a PV system, and aback the storm clouds beggared and the sun came out on the rain-soaked streets, these homeowners accepted to be able to use the electricity actuality generated by their PV modules.
Yet, to be sure, bags of added households that had installed solar systems were able to use those systems aback the sun was out to run refrigerators, allegation phones, and alike run babyish air conditioners.
What was the difference? And how did the abounding solar electric systems in Axial Florida book in the deathwatch of Blow Irma?
Hurricane Irma was one of the arch hurricanes to bang Florida in years. A accepted affair with rooftop solar systems is the catechism of how abounding would still be operating afterwards a aloft hurricane? Would they survive the barbarous winds?
As it turns out, about all were still operating. I abstruse this from analysis installers in Axial Florida to see how things fared.
To begin, it’s important to accept that, by design, grid-connected systems about-face off aback the filigree is down. This is apparent with all PV systems afterwards arrangement backup. To assure those abating adeptness to the disabled grid, PV systems stop sending adeptness aback over the adeptness curve aback they faculty that band voltage is lost. This aegis is essential.
Off-grid systems with arrangement advancement can assignment able-bodied aback the filigree is bottomward afterwards adeptness interruption, but the all-inclusive majority of the almost bisected a actor PV systems in the US are net metered — not off the filigree — and afterwards batteries. However, this botheration does not extend to all grid-tied systems.
Some of the newer SMA “Sunny Boy” inverters affection SMA’s Secure Adeptness Accumulation (SPS). This is an add-on basal that provides two 120 volt plugs from the inverter during a adeptness abeyance that can accommodate up to 16 amps of loads (2000 watts). Post-Irma, abounding of those in Florida with these systems were able to bung in refrigerators, phones, and admirers aback the sun was up. A key advocacy to those installing net-metered PV systems in Florida is that these systems should be adopted unless arrangement advancement systems are installed. Currently, the SMA inverters with this affection are the TL-22, TLS-US, and US-40 inverters.
I batten with two arresting solar installers in Axial Florida afterwards the hurricane: Jim Spann with Brevard Solar and Michael Brown with Solar-Ray, Inc. Amid the two companies, about 2,000 solar systems accept been installed in Axial Florida.
Brevard Solar had installed added than 800 systems at the time Irma struck. About 50 of his systems were amid in the Jacksonville area, addition 250 about Tampa, and the added 500 in Brevard County forth the Space Coast. Archetypal installed arrangement admeasurement is about 8–10 kWdc with two inverters, anniversary with a defended adeptness accumulation plug. His aggregation had installed added than 33,000 solar modules/panels by the end of summer 2017. Alone 8 modules of the 33,000 installed came off in the storm, and all of these were on ground-mount systems. There were no problems with roof-mounted systems, which Spann attributed to the stout 150 mph-rated, 3-rail roof-mounted arrangement architecture which they about deploy. Moreover, about all of the systems were still operating aback the blow departed, as Spann was able to actuate with ecology from his office, area his own solar with advancement adeptness accustomed accustomed operations.
Of the 800 systems, about 680 of these were centrally monitored SMA inverter systems and Spann was able to see absurdity codes and cachet of the systems the aing day. All were operating, although best were no best affiliated to the grid. Of the 680 systems with the defended adeptness accumulation plug, Spann appear that all but 12 operated as intended. Indeed, Brevard Solar was able to adviser how its barter were application the defended adeptness accumulation bung in complete time!
However, he did agenda that some newer refrigerators drew added adeptness than the defended bung could accommodate on startup (this acceptable comes from the assemblage attempting to go into defrost with defrost heaters aback re-powered). Spann estimated that about bisected of his barter were able to accomplish refrigerators auspiciously during the daytime hours with the defended adeptness accumulation in use. I batten with one of these barter who was able to use the defended adeptness for operating a refrigerator during daytime, authoritative ice and air-conditioned bottomward the capacity such that afterwards aperture the refrigerator at night, he was able to accomplish commonly and absent no food.
Brevard Solar additionally had some 30 systems with arrangement backup. These were about SMA systems with TL inverters and Sunny Island arrangement systems. All but one of these formed well. Although, Spann acclaimed that users generally had optimistic account of what their archetypal endless were like. In the one arrangement with troubles, the homeowners were operating a cardinal of freezers and refrigerators such that by about 5:00 AM, the arrangement was activity off on low-voltage abstract (LVD). Although he sees the bazaar now accretion afterwards the adventures of the aftermost two years, he is not a big fan of accepted arrangement advancement systems. They about amount $10,00–15,000 installed and additionally abate the filigree achievement of the solar systems complex by amid (5–10%) — because of the allegation to float-charge the batteries.
Spann’s advocacy for airy adeptness in the deathwatch of storms was that the defended adeptness accumulation from the SMA inverters be operated in affiliation with a accepted gas-powered architect to abundantly abate ammunition use and daytime noise. He did note, however, that the actuality that you were not alive a architect during the daytime did not beggarly you’d be cloistral from babble back neighbors to either ancillary would generally be operating generators as well. Spann’s appearance is that the best approaching operation is to use solar systems with inverters with the defended adeptness accumulation in affiliation with an electric auto with agent to abode (VTH) as an emergency arrangement system. We agenda that such a agreement is already accessible in Japan with the new Nissan LEAF, which appearance this adequacy with up to 6 kW accessible for emergencies or aiguille shaving. Aback will this important affection become accessible in the U.S.?
It adeptness be acclaimed that there are aftermarket kits for the 2011–2015 Chevy Volt which acquiesce a agnate capability. Plus, that car has a ample gasoline-powered architect congenital in. In any case, it seems assured that PHEVs and EVs will be acclimated in the approaching as emergency batteries at atomic in a bound fashion.
Thus, accepting an electric or constituent electric agent may accommodate abeyant for an emergency home arrangement or alike a architect too, in the case of the Volt.
Spann added adumbrated that absolutely a third of his barter already accept an electric or constituent electric agent or are planning to acquirement one. He did announce that they were now installing added SMA Tripower inverter alternation that are “storage-ready” to add Tesla Powerwall, Sonnen, or added such evolving arrangement systems. He additionally acclaimed that these systems about amount about $6,000, but do not accommodate the electrical assignment all-important to set up a sub-panel for analytical endless (an complete necessity). This adds addition $4,000 or added to the cost.
Some 680 of the SMA systems had defended adeptness accumulation systems such that homeowners were able to use defended adeptness plugs to accomplish refrigerators, arrangement chargers, and alike some babyish window air conditioners aback the sun was out.
Michael Brown of Solar-Ray, Inc., a ample accomplished PV installer in Axial Florida, had over 1,000 rooftop systems in acreage aback Irma struck. Added than bisected of these were centrally monitored so that Brown, in his appointment with PV and arrangement backup, could trace the bloom of the systems as able-bodied as see the filigree go bottomward as the storm confused though.
Of the added than 800 grid-tied systems, alone one had any concrete agitation afterwards the storm (that distinct armpit had an affair with the roof itself). All of the added systems functioned as anon as the filigree was adequate — although, Brown fielded abounding calls from afraid homeowners attractive at the absurdity codes produced by the inverters. Alike better, in the field, Brown had over 200 of the SMA inverters with the SPS outlets, which accustomed adeptness aback the sun was up. These additionally formed flawlessly. “People admired them,” Brown said. “Most ran refrigerators during the day to arctic them bottomward and accomplish ice and larboard them bankrupt until the sun came up the aing day.”
The added complete band-aid is to accept a PV arrangement with arrangement backup, that allows abounding islanding, like the Sonnen or Tesla Powerwall systems. Islanding is the adeptness of PV arrangement to anon serve affiliated domiciliary endless while actuality abandoned from the account filigree during outages. This is important so that no electricity is fed into the filigree that could potentially abuse account workers who are accomplishing the important assignment of acclimation downed adeptness lines.
Full arrangement advancement allows the PV-powered home to accomplish about as an off-grid home with batteries in the accident of adeptness failure. Two archetype arrangement systems are the Sonnen and Tesla Powerwall 2 systems. The Sonnen Eco arrangement has 4–16 kWh of arrangement backup, depending on the agreement purchased (10 kWh actuality popular) and the Tesla Powerwall has 13.5 kWh. While these systems acquiesce abounding use and adaptability of the PV arrangement with batteries, they abide expensive. For instance, the Tesla Powerwall arrangement sells for $5,500, but accession is generally $4,000 or added with assorted fees and approvals that can be involved.
Of the thousand systems that Brown evaluated post-Irma, he begin problems in a cardinal of the arrangement advancement systems. “Most of these problems traced to old batteries that were not maintained.” But Brown additionally saw problems with newer AC-coupled systems aback the systems were operated to the point that they went offline due to low-voltage abstract (LVD). Brown’s band-aid to these problems is to favor allegation ambassador blazon systems such as the Outback series. Still, he agrees that this adequacy can be badly accessible in the case of a abiding adeptness outage. Indeed, in his own office, amid a apparent PV arrangement and several kWh of arrangement backup, he was able to accomplish commonly in the analytical anniversary afterwards Irma.
Of course, realistically, home electrical accumulator would acquiesce load-shifting, which could be of ample amount to utilities and would abode the greatest limitation of solar — to abode ample absolute endless afterwards the sun sets and to bland out the residential amount profile. In any case, a Florida homeowner who installs a solar electric arrangement with batteries will accept a home which is advised to advice bouncer adjoin the miseries of a week-long adeptness interruption. Those problems accept been:
♦ Refrigeration: Afterwards refrigeration, aliment is absent and the adeptness to run and augment a domiciliary is acutely compromised.
♦ Lighting, admirers and charging: One needs lighting to see and bashful amounts of adeptness are bare for radios and phones. Afterwards air conditioning, admirers are a must, as it is contrarily actual difficult to beddy-bye in muggy, hot Florida. Charging is important, both for corpuscle phones and battery-powered accoutrement that are bare to accomplish the assured aliment about the house.
♦ Cooling: This one is aing to the top over every post-Irma survivor’s list. Axial AC systems are adeptness hungry, cartoon 3000–4000 watts of 240 volt power, and are out of the catechism for best generators. However, this is not accurate of mini-split calefaction pumps, which accommodate cooling for alone about 500 watts with accessible 120 volt models. Indeed, with adeptness and potentially application a axial added mini-split calefaction pump, the domiciliary would accept air conditioning and be able to accomplish commonly afterwards the blow has passed. Such 120 volt systems are readily accessible from Home Depot and added home abundance outlets.
Note that the aloft mini-split calefaction pumps can be set up so that they bung into an accustomed 120 volt bank plug, so that cooling will be accessible from the rooftop solar electric arrangement afterwards a storm. Moreover, it is important to point out, based on analysis conducted for both FPL and the US DOE, that accepting a added mini-split calefaction pump in your home (similar to the above) will bead accepted heating and cooling by an estimated 34%. We abstinent the 10 homes in our babyish abstraction and begin they adored an boilerplate of 2,010 kWh per year — account $240 at boilerplate Florida electric prices.
That’s a huge accumulation from commodity that not alone provides a bombastic heating and cooling arrangement in case of arrangement failure, but additionally provides the abeyant adeptness to do cooling afterwards a blow is passed.
I’ll booty addition branch in this segment, however, to admonish you that abacus adeptness to your home as able-bodied as solar and arrangement accumulator trebles the amount of your storm resiliency investment. Accumulate in apperception that with all LED lighting, your caliginosity electrical needs are bargain in the black aback you are application arrangement power, and centralized calefaction absolution is lower. (Every watt you use central your home releases 1 watt of calefaction that raises the temperature central or requires added activity to aish with air conditioning. It’s additionally important to accumulate calefaction out during summer. With added beam insulation, a tighter home, and cloistral windows, your allegation for cooling is lower and the babble from those neighbors’ alfresco generators is muffled. Plus, if you’re afterwards power, the abode warms added boring with bigger insulation and with able autogenous accessories giving off beneath heat. Finally, with all that, your arrangement arrangement — whether a abounding islanding arrangement or an emergency arrangement from a constituent car — can go abundant further.
Homes that accept a bashful PV arrangement with arrangement advancement can accommodate all these essentials with batteries to accomplish it through the black with daytime charging of electrical storage. Thus, I accomplish the point that Florida’s utilities should be incentivized to animate home PV systems with storage.
Currently, abounding investor-owned utilities abide adversarial appear rooftop grid-connected solar electric systems abundantly because of the accident of acquirement from such PV systems. To the contrary, Florida’s utilities should be auspicious PV systems with electrical storage, which the utilities could dispense to bland out endless beneath accustomed circumstances. While the U.S. lags by foisting fees on PV modules, the blow of the apple moves avant-garde into a apple-pie activity future. Indeed, aloof today, Tesla appear a four year accomplishment appear conception of a basal solar adeptness bulb application 50,000 homes with rooftop solar and PowerWall2s amid in South Australia.
Tesla To Construct Basal Solar Adeptness Bulb Application 50,000 Homes In South Australia
And while this accomplishment will actualize a smoother residential adeptness appeal contour in accustomed times, in an emergency there would be huge advantages. Indeed, post-storm with no filigree power, such systems would be a advantage to those who own them.
With rooftop solar and arrangement storage, one about ends up with a house-level uninterruptible adeptness accumulation — a UPS for one’s calm kingdom. PLUS, if one has a constituent amalgam or absolutely electric vehicle, one can allegation the car with the rooftop PV system, accouterment gasoline-free biking — awful adorable accustomed the continued gas curve apparent at account stations in the deathwatch of Blow Irma. Moreover, if one has a Nissan LEAF with the arising adequacy actuality approved in Japan (as ahead described) it adeptness be accessible to use the car as an emergency arrangement for vehicle-to-house (VTH) power. Tesla, GM, and Ford, are you listening?
Vehicle-to-House (VTH) is a potentially transformative technology. Why?
1) Actuality beggared of adeptness is not reasonable (or alike healthy) accustomed costs of solar. Note, in Puerto Rico, bisected a actor are afterwards adeptness six months later.
2) Every EV or PHEV becomes a large, accessible no-cost emergency arrangement than can run the basal electrical needs of a home– decidedly one that has been fabricated added efficient.
3) Application accepted Level 1 chargers, EVs or PHEVs can be answerable with PV– about at about 3-5 kWh per kWdc per day, depending on geographic area (4 kWh/day/kWdc is archetypal in Florida). As ambit is typically, 0.25 – 0.33 kWh/mile, this agency about 10-20 afar of ambit added anniversary boilerplate day per kW of PV committed to charging a car above needs for home power.
And this advantage not alone extends to Florida, but every abode at accident of adeptness interruption. Let’s face it, hurricanes can calmly abuse the absolute US Eastern seaboard. Also, hurricanes aren’t the alone adeptness blackout threat. Our accompany in California and added seismically alive genitalia of the US are affected to outages too, but from earthquakes. For added genitalia of the world, there are ice storms and agnate power-loss risk. In any case, it’s accessible to accede that an assured home adeptness accumulation — domiciliary resiliency in the accident of filigree adeptness abeyance — is a acceptable affair wherever one resides.
Rooftop solar with batteries can accomplish assured 24-hour adeptness at home a absoluteness today. This is not an abstract affiance for the future: solar with electrical accumulator systems are accessible now. The key additive in extensive this eyes will be the advance appear lower electrical accumulator costs that may accomplish rooftop solar on-site accumulator a awful adorable home accepted affection in Florida’s activity future.
Danny Parker Danny is arch analysis scientist at the Florida Solar Activity Center area he has formed for the aftermost thirty years. His analysis for the U.S. Department of Activity has concentrated on avant-garde residential adeptness technologies and establishing the achievability of Zero Activity homes (ZEH) — abbreviation the activity use in homes to the point area solar electric adeptness can accommodated best anniversary needs. The opinions bidding in this commodity are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Florida Solar Activity Center, the University of Axial Florida or the U.S. Department of Energy.
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