NOLA Solar Update

A while back, I wondered if all the PV gear installed after Hurricane Katrina was grid tie, or if some of it came through after the more recent storms. The answer is there was some with battery backup.

I remember reading in my morning solar newsletters a while back about an apartment complex that was equipped with solar and battery. That one was working after the storm. Sort of.

Two very important things about life off grid are that you either need a lot of battery for life as usual or you need to be able to make some lifestyle compromises. There are two people in my household and one of us (ahem) is not willing to compromise or economize on power use, so the other has to keep tabs on battery maintenance and be on the lookout to scrounge more batteries.

So imagine what it is like in an apartment complex full of people.

Reportedly, the lights were on during the day, but went out after sundown. Doesn’t seem quite right, does it? Still the refrigerators got to build up some cool during the day. I suspect the a/c units were running, too, leading to the battery shutting down early.

There are some grid-tie inverters for individual homes that have a day-only backup mode that will give you power without batteries when the grid is down. We put one, a Sunny Boy, in a friend’s South Carolina home. I think it was good for 2500 watts on a clear day. That’ll run the fridge, the microwave and some lights, so worth having. I hear, too, that the latest Enphase microinverters (grid tie inverters that strap to the back of each solar panel) can provide off grid power during the day with an additional controller.

Batteries aren’t cheap, but they sure are nice to have. There are other options if you are not able to go with batteries.


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