Solar Panel Installers & Consultants - West Virginia - Maryland - Pennsylvania - Virginia

Is a Solar Power System With Battery Backup Right for My Needs?

Solar power has gained significant attention as the world increasingly looks for sustainable energy solutions. In recent years, solar power systems with battery backups have become an attractive option for homeowners and businesses to avoid blackouts and harness reliable power.

These systems not only allow you to generate electricity from the sun but also store excess energy in batteries for later use. However, before investing in a solar power system with battery backup, it’s essential to evaluate whether it’s the right fit for your needs.

So, is a solar power system with battery backup right for you? Let’s find out.

Get Dependable Electricity During Outages

One of the key benefits of a solar power system with battery backup is its ability to provide electricity during grid power outages.

When a blackout occurs, the battery storage system kicks in, offering a reliable source of power. This can be especially advantageous if you live in an area prone to storms or frequent power disruptions.

An uninterrupted power supply ensures that critical appliances, such as refrigerators or medical equipment, continue functioning even during an outage.

Maximize Your Solar-Generated Power

Solar power systems with battery backups can save you money on your energy bills. By harnessing the sun’s energy, you can reduce your reliance on the grid and avoid peak electricity rates.

Excess energy produced during the day is stored in the batteries and can be used at night or during periods of high demand. This allows you to maximize the usage of your property’s own solar-generated power and decrease your dependency on conventional energy sources.

Reduce Your Solar Energy Waste and Reliance on the Grid

Having battery backup for your solar system allows you to store excess energy during the day, which reduces wasted solar power during peak hours and lowers your reliance on the grid at night when the panels aren’t actively generating energy.

Using stored solar energy from batteries allows you to maximize the efficiency and cost savings of your solar system and further contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Even if you have a current solar system, you can add battery backup to keep your power on even when the grid is unreliable.

Things to Consider When Deciding on Solar Battery Backup

There are a few things to consider when evaluating whether solar battery backup is right for your system:

  • The amount of sun your property gets. While solar panels can still produce electricity on cloudy days, regions with limited sunlight might not generate enough energy to fully charge the batteries. In such cases, you may need to rely on the grid as a backup power source. If working with a professional West Virginia solar installation company, they can calculate the amount of sun you get and what is optimal for your needs.
  • The cost of installing battery backups. Depending on the size of your home or business, the cost of purchasing solar panels and batteries can be significant. However, long-term savings and potential government incentives can offset the initial investment. 
  • The size of the battery. If you have a greater energy demand or anticipate using large appliances simultaneously, a larger battery capacity will be necessary. Conducting an energy audit and consulting with Pennsylvania or Virginia solar professionals will help ensure the system is right for your needs.

Let Milestone Solar Help You Find Your Best Solution

At Milestone Solar, we recommend battery backup systems to property owners in West VA, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania who want to avoid power outages and keep their power on no matter what. Plus, with a backup battery, the system automatically switches over to stored energy, allowing you a seamless transition to keep your power. Let us help you find the right solution for your solar battery backup—contact us today!

SolarEdge’s StorEdge Inverter and the LG Battery System: Just the Facts

From residential to utility scale, storage is one of the biggest issues in the solar world. Technologies are evolving, and there will be many changes over the coming months and years

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In our area, the recent big news seems to be the SolarEdge System – StorEdge Inverter coupled with the LG lithium-Ion battery. At least three solar companies in West Virginia are attempting to sell this system to solar consumers and, after multiple conversations with prospective buyers, I’m very sure many of the customers really don’t understand all the issues involved. I also suspect that in some cases, the installers also don’t understand what they’re attempting to sell. (For example, I asked an LG support tech about how the lithium-ion batteries would respond to being primarily storage for backup power instead of regularly cycled. His answer was “Guess I need to research that.” Good idea.)

Recently, a potential customer from a co-op, who’s considering a StorEdge/LG battery system, asked me for a competitive quote. When I told him we were not installing that system at this time for several reasons, he told me, “You guys need to come out of the Dark Ages, see the light; this is the technology of the future.”

Hmmmm. Really?

Interesting, particularly when you consider the fact we guys have installed more battery backup storage systems than anyone else in West Virginia.

But this did get me to take the time to really investigate the issues. Over several days I consulted with technical folks at SolarEdge, LG Batteries, and a customer support engineer at a leading solar distributor, who specializes in battery systems.

What follows are the facts as I understand them. I try to stay with the facts as best I can. There will also be some opinions, but those will be obvious.

The System

The system we’re talking about is the StorEdge system from SolarEdge. Currently, the only battery- capable SolarEdge inverter model is their 7600-watt model. This is basically the popular SolarEdge 7600 inverter with additional firmware, electronics and a transfer switch to allow it to interact with the battery system and a critical loads panel when the grid goes down.

The original release was designed to let StorEdge work with both the Tesla Powerwall and/or the LG 10 kWh battery system. The DC version of the Tesla PowerWall 2 system crashed and burned (not literally, as far as I know), leaving the LG battery system. This will currently work with only one LG battery; capability to tandem 2 batteries is supposed to be released soon. (That will be seriously expensive, however.)

The StorEdge system is designed to primarily work in one of two modes: The self-consumption mode, when the batteries engage on a regular basis to offset the need to buy from the utility. The system will also switch to backup mode when the grid is lost and a critical loads panel will be energized.

According to SolarEdge, the two typical applications for this consumption capability are:

  • Areas that don’t allow net metering (such as Hawaii and certain US co-ops). Solar power produced in excess to current loads is stored in batteries to be used later – at night, for example.
  • Areas with varied Time of Use rates. In this case, the system can be configured to supplement from the solar array’s production with battery input during certain time slots to avoid having to buy from the utility at the highest rate.

It’s very important to note that those two scenarios do not apply to our area, as long as we have one-for-one net metering. With net metering, this self-consumption capability is not a good choice for anyone. There are much better alternatives, like letting the grid store your excess PV production.

The other configuration is a straight backup configuration. In this case the batteries will engage only when the grid is lost. Then, an electronic transfer switch is engaged and the batteries energize the critical loads panel.

If you buy the StorEdge/LG system to use strictly as a backup power option, you’re not getting a good deal. In fact, I consider this system to be mediocre for a strictly backup only application based on:

  • Very high battery cost (compared to AGM storage)
  • Very limited stored capacity ( currently only 9.5 kWh useable)
  • Very limited surge capability. If you have a deep well, submerged well pump (3/4 HP or more), pay attention that that factor. Well pumps don’t react well to “brown power”.
  • Limited scalability (You’re restricted to the minimum and maximum solar array values that the 7600 inverter supports.) For larger arrays, you need a second inverter, which will not be part of the battery-based capability, by the way.
  • No integrated generator connection (for long grid outages)

The Data

This chart compares a StorEdge system with the LG battery to a Schneider XW5548 system with a 490 AH AGM battery bank. The XW5548 is their smallest model; we often install the XW6848 model, which is much more robust. The data points are taken directly from the companies’ published datasheets.

  SolarEdge StorEdge 7600 with LG 10 kWh Battery Schneider XW 5548 with 490 AH AGM Battery Bank
Max Continuous Output on Batteries 5000W 5500W
Surge Capacity – 30 sec Not Available 9500W
Surge Capacity – 10 sec 7600W 9500W
Switchover Time 2 sec 8 ms
Integrated Generator Connection Not Available Yes
Useable kWh stored 9.5 kWh (95 % DoD) 17.6 kWh (75% DoD)
Cost (estimated retail), batteries only $6,100 $4,000

Notes:

  • DoD = Depth of Discharge
  • The XW5548 is capable of surging to 7000 watts for up to 30 minutes at 25º C ambient temperature.

 

The cost information above is just for the batteries. If you were going with the 7600 StorEdge instead of a plain 7600, you’d also have to pay:

  • $1000 more for the StorEdge 7600 (versus a basic 7600 SolarEdge).
  • The cost of a step-down transformer to bring the LG battery’s high voltage down to a useable level.
  • For purchasing and installing miscellaneous electronics and hardware.

If you were simply adding an AC-coupled battery bank to a plain Solar Edge 7600, your additional costs would be for only:

  • An AC-coupled capable inverter/charger.
  • Battery enclosures. (The enclosures we install are metal.)
  • Miscellaneous electrical and hardware items and their installation.

Either way, you get much more bang for your buck buying a basic 7600 system and adding an AC-coupled battery bank. The AGM technology is rock-solar and predictable. The lithium-ion, not so much. (There’s a reason why the DC version of the Tesla Powerwall 2 was pulled from the market.)

During the tech boom in the years 2000-2002 I saw a lot of this. It’s the difference between leading edge and bleeding edge, the difference between deploying solid technologies and chasing evolving technologies. Over my more than 30 years in the tech business, and especially during almost 10 years at Cisco Systems, we did a lot of leading edge, early field trial stuff, but always in a very controlled environment. As a the owner of a small solar installation company I’m very sure our customers don’t want to put a lifetime of savings at risk just to have the newest widget, and I have no interest in asking them to. I will not be recommending any new technology before it’s been proven in the field over a considerable period of time.

Guess we’ll stay in the Dark Ages a while longer 🙂

As for why some solar companies are pushing this particular system, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them.  

Solar Systems and Storage – What you need to know

If there’s more common buzzword in the solar industry today than storage, I don’t know what it would be. As is the case with many terms in the solar world, storage can mean different things – depending on who’s using it.

In its most basic use, storage means electric potential stored in a battery using a wide variety of chemistry, until presenting a load to the stored potential activates its power. For example, when you start your car, the electrical system presents a load to the battery, and the starter’s engaged.

When using the term storage within the discussion of solar energy it can get really confusing to the consumer. I tend to narrow it down to three typical applications (my terms) that actually exist at this point in time.

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  1. Off-grid, when the batteries are the most fundamental part of the house electrical system. If the batteries are exhausted, you’ll either be in the dark or running off a generator system.
  2. Grid-tied with battery backup, where the battery bank mostly sits idle unless grid power is interrupted. Then the batteries engage, the inverter taking power from them and energizing a critical loads panel. You’re then operating as an off-grid system until grid power is restored – a two-mode (bimodal) system.
  3. Consumptive storage. This configuration is becoming very common in places like Hawaii and in many countries where electricity’s expensive and there’s no Net Metering (where the power company must accept all excess power from your array and credit you on a one-for-one kWh basis).

We’ve discussed off-grid systems on our website, so let’s look at systems 2 and 3 above.

A grid-tied, battery backup system (bimodal) is our favorite solar system, and I believe we’ve installed more of them than anyone in the region over the past 4 – 5 years. I know for a fact that we have dozens of systems installed and operational in the four-state region we serve.

As for the longevity of the batteries, we recently conducted a controlled load testing of a nearly 8-year-old AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) battery system, and it showed almost no degradation of the battery bank. This test was conducted as part of an estate sale, and DEKA engineers confirmed our captured data. We’re expecting at least 10 years for the Made in USA, DEKA AGM batteries we use and have data to support that claim.

If properly and professionally designed and installed, bimodal systems provide years of trouble-free service and great peace of mind for the owners. In conjunction with an auxiliary generator system, they can provide the potential for months of electrical service in the event of a major loss of grid power. Some of our customers are preparing for this possibility.

A consumptive storage system is a different animal entirely. In this configuration, the solar array first services the house loads, then diverts excess power to be stored in batteries. When the array output doesn’t meet house loads (at night, for example) the batteries provide power to the house. One problem with this configuration is that it obviously demands batteries that can stand up to many cycles of charges and discharges (cycles). Another, really big, problem (to me) is that if the house loads are met, and the batteries are fully charged, the excess solar production is lost.

The consumptive solar system looks attractive to many, but the fact is that Net Metering, as long as we have it, is better by a wide margin.

If Net Metering goes away, then, like in Hawaii, consumptive storage will become the system of choice for many solar owners. We’re not there yet – and, by the way, neither are the battery systems needed to deliver a realistic return on investment or real work capability. If you don’t believe me, try to buy, and have delivered, one of the new Tesla Powerwall-2 DC systems. At some point other technologies like Lithium-Ion will probably be the answer, but not today.

By the way, the power companies are constantly challenging Net Metering – locally and throughout the country. I truly worry that if they influence enough politicians, Net Metering could be lost.

At this point, many of you may be wondering: If all this is true, why are some solar companies pushing customers to consider one of the latest and greatest storage systems based on cycling battery technologies, like lithium-Ion, instead of more mature and proven configurations like a bimodal system using AGM batteries.

The truth is I really don’t know for sure in every case, but I do know that potential solar consumers are being lobbied by solar salespersons with minimal or nonexistent battery system experience, understanding and credentials, and some customers are making some unfortunate purchase decisions.

Some of the battery system proposals we’ve been asked to review are both technically and economically incorrect – massively incorrect. Battery-based solar systems are substantially more complicated than typical grid-tied systems, and no place for on-the-job learning at your expense (and peril).

Do your own research. Ask for reference installs. Talk to existing system owners. Then, I invite you to give us a call or fill out a web page contact form for a free professional consultation and proposal.

Before you buy a solar system, ask the installer these questions:

There’s only one reason I can think of why anybody would take on the serious safety and long-term production risks of having an inexperienced installation company, or one using a group of trainees, install their solar system. That reason is, they may not  know what to ask about, besides price. And when safety and structural integrity are on the line, cheaper isn’t better.

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Most non-micro solar systems operate at very high DC current flow and voltages (some as high as 1000 volts DC). Adding batteries takes the installation to a whole other level of complexity. The design and safety issues involved are real and not, in my opinion, a good place for a class project or on-the-job training at the homeowner’s peril.

And while a master electrician license requires knowledge and experience, the license alone doesn’t make someone truly qualified to design and install solar systems. There’s lots more to it than what’s covered in the National Electric Code book or the master test. (I’m sure of that because we have two master electricians on our team, and I’m very familiar with every edition of the NEC Book published since 2005.)

That’s only one part of a solar installation project – and the reason most authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) require a building permit as well as an electrical permit.

So in addition to pricing, licenses and components, you should also ask potential installers about track record, references from previous projects, solar experience and certifications.

Probably the best question you can ask is whether someone who’ll be working on your installation has earned North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners certifications. Their PV (PhotoVoltaic) Technical Sales and PV Installer certifications are tough to get. That’s because NABCEP is the only organization that tests for and credentials every aspect of grid-tied, off-grid and battery backup solar installations – design, mechanical issues, electrical issues, optimized production issues, installation and maintenance. (Please don’t confuse this with NABCEP’s Associate certification, which is an entry-level program; Associates must work under a senior installer, hopefully with full NABCEP certification.) You can check which, if any, NABCEP certifications an installer holds here.

Continue reading “Before you buy a solar system, ask the installer these questions:”

Don’t let power outages ground your business

 

 

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You may not have heard what caused last week’s Delta Airlines computer shutdown that grounded 15,000 flights and stranded hundreds of thousands of travelers worldwide for more than 24 hours. It was a local power outage in the part of Atlanta where Delta is headquartered.

There’s a lesson for businesses of all sizes in this: You never know when or where a power outage can occur. You do know that when it does, it can make your business as dead as Delta’s was.

 

Your business doesn’t have 15,000 passenger flights throughout the world each day. And it doesn’t bring in $5.9 billion a year in adjusted pre-tax income. But the smaller your business, the more devastating a full-day outage can be. Continue reading “Don’t let power outages ground your business”

“Plug-and-Play” isn’t

 

People have asked is whether we install “Solar Kits” that some home improvement businesses and online dealers sell at good prices.

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The short answer is no, and there are several reasons.

First, most of the “kits” we’ve looked at are anything but complete. Racking, grounding, disconnects, wiring, and other components are often missing. Customers are very disappointed to learn this, often after the purchase has been made – ouch!

Second, we would never recommend the components that are in the kits, and therefore we can’t support them. If we install it, we own it as a support issue going forward.

Since we install a lot of grid-tied, battery backup systems, we also field a good many calls about certain online businesses selling grid-tied, battery backup systems that they describe as “plug-and-play”. Our electricians will be surprised to learn this, because we find that even the most experienced electricians we bring on board take a number of installs to become comfortable with the technology and installation techniques we use.

If someone describes a bimodal solar system to you as plug-and-play, it’s time to move on to a qualified vendor.

Caveat emptor, my friends.

 

A great AAAAAA-rated review on Angie’s list

Check out this glowing Angie’s List Review from a White Sulphur Springs, WV, customer on March 30, 2016:

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Milestone Solar Consultants, owned and operated by Bill Anderson, did our install. We purposely waited 5 to 6 months before doing a review because new stuff always looks good in the beginning but what about months later? We wanted it before the winter set in and he made that happen. ALL his workers were polite, courteous and knowledgeable about what they were doing. We had the batteries and analyzers placed in our basement. There were no boxes, wiring or any trash left lying around anywhere. They even swept. They left my house better than they found it. Mr. Anderson promised a turnkey job and that’s exactly what we got. All the wiring from the outside mounting racks to the basement equipment looks like a piece of art. Their attention to even the smallest detail is second to none! Even though they are a 4½ hour drive fro us, anytime we called him Mr. Anderson made himself available to us and was ready to drive down immediately to address any concerns or issues we had even if they turned out to be unwarranted. This shows his dedication to what he is doing, and he will do whatever is needed to see both his solar system and his customer is always happy. We’ve already experienced 3 power outages with our Electric Company and didn’t even know it. The solar system’s batteries kicked in so efficiently and quickly that our digital clocks didn’t even start blinking. When the power comes back on the batteries switch back to standby without us having to do a thing. We also ran our home on just the solar system itself, going completely off the grid (in the winter) and ran everything easily for 4 or 5 days. Which is exactly what Mr. Anderson said it would do. He has the credentials and expertise to answer any questions you pose to him. None of that, “Well I don’t know. I will have to check on that question and get back to you.” Which we had with other big name solar installers. Milestone Solar came into our home as strangers and left as family. Any and ALL questions were answered by Mr. Anderson and his crew and there were a lot of them! And we know he will ALWAYS be just a phone call away if we have more questions or need him in any way. And that speaks volumes!! If you are looking to put in a Solar Array System, it would be to your advantage to have a quote from Milestone Solar. His prices can’t be beat ESPECIALLY when he uses ONLY top quality equipment and materials. We looked at many different systems from other companies but Milestone Solar stood out by miles…no pun intended 🙂

 

Tesla Powerwall – Not Ready for Prime Time as a Backup Solution

Tesla has received a lot buzz in the national press – even predictions about how they will fundamentally change the way we all use and store electricity. Buzz is one thing, facts are often quite different.

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As the region’s leading installer of grid-tied, battery-backup solar systems, we field a lot of calls and emails regarding different battery-related components and capabilities. Lately we have had a lot of questions about Tesla batteries and our reasons for not using them at this point.Tesla_Powerwall

When talking specifically about the Powerwall lithium-ion batteries, there are two models targeted at residential use: A 7 kW hour daily cycling version and a 10 kW hour storage model targeted for true backup configurations.

First, the 7 kWh model: As indicated, this battery pack is a daily cycling technology. The batteries do not have a “float” state to allow for longer term storage . So the energy you store today must be used tonight. That’s why even Tesla’s own website claims only that its Powerwall battery “stores electricity generated by solar panels during the day and makies it available to your home in the evening.” 

In our area, this is a mostly useless capability, because we still have net metering. So any extra power your system makes today can be sent back to the utility, via your bidirectional meter, so you get full credit for it. Some call this using the grid as your storage, which is not a bad analogy.

In areas with no net metering (like Hawaii), the idea is to send excess power to the Tesla for short-term storage and then use it tonight before it expires. I wonder about the ROI for this system, but that is the process.

Now the 10 kWh model: This was the system that was being tested for deployment by at least one of the big national solar companies for their own proprietary battery-backup system. But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to a national rollout. According to multiple press reports, the 10 kWh batteries failed – a lot, and have since been withdrawn from availability.

As a result, the only Tesla for residential deployment is the daily cycling version, which is basically worthless in our area in my opinion. For now, the 10 kWh version is removed from the Tesla website, and one assumes an improved version will come out at some time. I strongly suggest that you do not want to be one of the early deployments of the next release.

The bottom line? If you are a customer with one of our systems, or considering one of our systems, be assured the battery system you want in the near term is Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) technology. That is all we use and all we have ever used for grid-tied battery backup. I believe that an AGM battery bank, when coupled with Schneider Electric’s Conext/Xantrex inverters, charge controllers and balance of system components, represents the best residential grid-tied battery backup technology available today, and that is why we use it.

When looking at the systems we deploy, some of the words that come to mind are: mature, scalable, configurable, stable and predictable. As a person who has been engaged in designing and deploying high-end technologies for more than 30 years – in the military, federal government and Cisco Systems – I can assure you that is where you want to be.

Ground Mount versus Roof-Mounted Solar Systems

On a national basis, the vast majority of residential solar systems are roof mounted.  It makes sense.  It is space that is not being used, and the roof often has the best orientation to the sun’s path, and is the most shade-free area on the property.Untitled1

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But in many cases, we encourage customers to at least consider a ground mount system.  The two main reasons are:

  1. You can precisely orient the array to the sun path – allowing for maximum annual production.
  2. If your array is part of an emergency power system (battery backup) and you get a big snow, it is easy to get the snow off of the modules, which is very important for an emergency power system.

For some customers, a ground mount is not a good option. For example, you may have a roof with a great orientation and pitch that is better than, or as good as, any ground mount system.

Keeping food safe when the power goes out

The year’s first snowstorm, Winter Storm Hercules, is living up to its name.

It’s dumping snow from Bangor, ME, to as far west as Chicago and as far south as the West Virginia-Kentucky state line – enough snow cancel 2,300 airline flights.

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But that’s not the worst of it.

With freezing and below-freezing temperatures as far south as Central Virginia, power lines are starting to ice up. When power lines ice up, they sag, often break, and cause power outages. And when the power goes out, so do appliances like refrigerators and freezers, that keep your food from going bad.

So right now, these USDA tips for keeping food safe to eat are particularly worth following:

  • Fill Ziplock bags, empty soda bottles, and other plastic containers with water and freeze them. That way they can keep perishables in your freezer, refrigerator, and coolers (see below) cold.
  • Freeze food in your refrigerator that you don’t need immediately (meat, poultry, milk, and leftovers such as chili and soup, for example). If you loose power, this will buy you some more time by keeping them at a food-safe temperature longer.
  • Pack everything tightly together in the freezer and refrigerator to help keep everything cooler longer.
  • Have coolers on hand, ready to be filled with ice packs, frozen foods and refrigerated perishables.
  • If the power goes out, keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A fully packed, closed freezer will hold its temperature about 4 hours. A half-filled one will keep food safe for only half as long.
  • Look for visible ice crystals in your food. If they’re there, the food’s good to refreezing or cook and eat – even if it’s been in a sealed freezer without power for days.
  • If you’re not sure whether something’s safe to eat, use a cooking thermometer. If a food’s temperature is below 40˚F, it’s safe. If not, throw it out.
  • Also throw out any meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, soft cheeses, foods labeled “keep refrigerated,” and other perishables that have sat in your refrigerator for 4 hours without power. Hard and processed cheeses, butter and margarine, whole, uncut fruits and nuts, opened fruit juices and canned fruits, peanut butter, baked goods, and raw vegetables are safe.
  • Never taste an item to see if it’s still good; it most likely isn’t.

And after the power comes back on again, you might think about calling Milestone Solar about a solar power system with a battery backup bank. It’ll keep your fridge, freezer microwave working while the power’s out – for days on end, because it recharges whenever the sun is up. And when the snow stops and you have your electricity back, it’ll save you as much as 50% on your regular, monthly electric bills.

 

 

Red Cross advice for dealing with a blackout

If you already have a Milestone Solar system with battery backup, you can skip most of this, because it won’t apply to you.

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Your sealed, high-tech battery backup bank will be storing up electric power with every ray of the sun (and recharging every day)  – enough power to keep your essential appliances going until the power comes back on, even if that’s days, even weeks, later.

For everyone else, the following pointers from the Red Cross can be important. That big pre-Thanksgiving storm was only the beginning of the snowstorm season. Once winter officially arrives, there’s be more snow, causing more icing up on power lines, more breaks and more outages.

Food Safety

  • If a power outage is 2 hours or less, don’t worry about losing your perishable foods.
  • Don’t open your refrigerator and freezer doors unless you have to. Use perishable food from the refrigerator first. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours.
  • After perishables from the refrigerator are gone, then use food from the freezer. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-full) if the door stays closed.
  • Use your non-perishable foods and staples after you’ve eaten all the food from the refrigerator and freezer.
  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, get ice from an unaffected area and prepare a cooler for your freezer items.
  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.

Electrical Equipment

  • Turn off and, if you can, unplug every electrical appliance that was on when the power went out – particularly sensitiver electronics like computers. This will protect them from surges and spikes when the power returns.
  • Leave one light plugged in, so you’ll know when  the power’s back.
  • If you absolutely have to drive, drive extra carefully. Remember that traffic lights and street lights are electric, so they’ll also be out.

Fire and Carbon Monoxide Cautions

  • Unlike a backup battery bank, generators, grills, camp stoves and other devices that burn gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal can emit toxic exhaust fumes or cause fires. So don’t use them in your home, garage, basement, crawlspace or other enclosed areas. And if you use them outside, use them away from doors, windows and vents that could let the exhaust indoors.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on each floor and also outside bedrooms. That way, you’ll have warning when deadly carbon monoxide starts building up.
  • If a carbon monoxide alarm goes off, quickly move to where there’s fresh air – outdoors or by an open window or door.Once you’re there, stay there. Call for help  and remain there until emergency help arrives.

After the Blackout

  • Watch out for downed power lines. Don’t touch them, keep your kids and pets away from them, and report them.
  • Throw away any food that’s been exposed to temperatures higher than 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Remember that food that looks all right and smells all right may not be all right. When they’ve been too warm too long, bacteria can start growing quickly. Many of these bacteria carry food-borne illnesses, and some produce toxins that even cooking can’t destroy.
  • If food in your freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
  • If you’re not sure food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer.

 

 

 

Power outages have many causes, but one sure cure.

Readers of the  New Castle, PA, News got their papers late today because a power outage shut down the printing plant. While Penn Power eventually restored electricity, the cause of the outage is still unreported.

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But it could have been almost anything.

On October 28, in Moundsville, WV, the cause was copper thieves, who cut through a power substation’s fence, broke the lock on the control house door, started helping themselves to 2 gauge copper wire, and tripped a circuit breaker in the process. About 3,000 homes and businesses were without electricity for almost two hours, and schools were closed.

The day before, just as schools were letting out in Farmington, VA, a failed lightning arrestor knocked out power in about 2,950 homes and businesses – and all the city’s traffic lights. It took four crews nearly an hour to restore it.

And Lynchburg’s downtown business district, as noted before, has been plagued with a whole string of outages caused by squirrels eating the insulation.

But while power outages can have many causes, there’s one best way to avoid them – and that’s with a Milestone Solar array with battery backup. Lynchburg, the home of those hungry squirrels, for example, enjoys 219 days with sunshine a year – and on each of those days, solar power can be charging a sealed, state-of-the-art battery bank.

When the power goes out, that battery bank kicks in – keeping your lights on, your food fresh and your appliances running – day and night, until the electricity comes on again, with no flammable fuels and no toxic emissions. And when it does, your Milestone Solar system cuts your electric bills by as much as 50%, earns you a tidy tax credit, and, according to Newsday, increases your home’s value by 3 to 4%.