Much has been made in the media and marketing world of home energy storage
in the past few years. In the wake of significant, recent weather events
which have caused multi-day power outages and billions of dollars in losses
to the economy, the need for on-site energy storage and better
grid resiliency is clear.
We frequently get requests from customers and potential customers with regard to purchasing solar systems with energy storage or adding energy storage to existing solar systems. Most people at this point have at least heard of Tesla’s Powerwall energy storage system and are curious about how it could work for them.
What we as industry insiders see at this point is a divergence between what these devices were engineered and designed to do, and how they are being marketed. We find much of the current energy storage marketing to be misleading and confusing to the customer.
Quite simply, energy arbitrage. What is energy arbitrage you ask? Good question!
This works primarily in utility markets that have more sophisticated billing methods knows as “Time of Use” or “Tiered”.
One kilowatt hour at 11:00 AM on a weekday would be offered at a lower rate than the same kilowatt hour at 5:00 PM that evening. This pricing is based on grid demand, and encourages customers to use energy when the grid is less stressed. Solar with storage marries well with this type of metering. Excess energy generated during the peak sun hours of the late morning and afternoon can be stored in batteries. Then later, when the rate increased in the late afternoon, the home can be powered using the stored battery energy rather than drawing from the grid.
Most of the marketing we see for energy storage systems, especially
residential storage systems, targets storm resiliency and energy independence. The
number of kilowatt hours which are capable of being stored in a typical
residential battery bank would power the average house for a couple of
hours at best. This is fine, and actually quite useful, when trying to
avoid using utility power during a peak power window, but not so good
at providing emergency power to a home during a storm or outage of greater
duration. It’s not atypical in our area during and after major storms
to see power outages lasting 24+ hours. This could easily require 30 or
more kWh of battery storage which would be exorbitantly expensive, take
up a great deal of space, and be difficult to maintain.
In most New York utility markets, especially those Upstate, customers are not billed using “Time of Use” metering. Our energy costs the same regardless of what time during the day or week we use it. Given our “flat” rate structure there is no opportunity to take advantage of energy arbitrage.
As we see it, the case for battery-based energy storage in our market is still a weak one. We at Lighthouse Solar want to see effective, reliable, and cost-effective energy storage come to market as much as anyone. We are keeping a close eye on the industry’s development and product offerings. When we see a solution come to market that is reliable and aligns with the needs of our customers, we will proudly offer it.
Interested in going solar? Speak with our Austin solar panel installation experts at Lighthouse Solar to get started with a free consultation.
Over 70 Years of Combined Experience
Thousands of Jobs Completed
Free Consultations Available
Superior Customer Service
25-Year Limited Warranties Provided
Highly Customized Designs
"We are committed to building strong client relationships by using industry-leading expertise and customer service to provide high-quality, innovative solar energy systems.