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.
Check out this glowing Angie’s List Review from a White Sulphur Springs, WV, customer on March 30, 2016:
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 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.
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.
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.
On a national basis, the vast majority of residential solar systems are roof mounted. It makes sense. It isspace 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.
But in many cases, we encourage customers to at least consider a ground mount system. The two main reasons are:
You can precisely orient the array to the sun path – allowing for maximum annual production.
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.
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.
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.
If you already have a Milestone Solar system with battery backup, you can skip most of this, because it won’t apply to you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
Today, PopularMechanics.com posted, “How Not to Die: 20 Survival Tips You Must Know.”
Must-know survival tip #17 is of particular interest to anyone worried about power outages:
Use Generators Safely.
After Hurricane Sandy, many homeowners used portable generators to replace lost power, leaving the machines running overnight and allowing odorless carbon monoxide to waft inside. The gas induces dizziness, headaches, and nausea in people who are awake, but “when people go to sleep with a generator running, there’s no chance for them to realize that something’s wrong,” says Brett Brenner, president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
STAT: Carbon monoxide from consumer products, including portable generators, kills nearly 200 a year. Of the Sandy-related deaths, 12 were due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
A Milestone Solar system with battery backup gives you power without the risk. Its high-tech, sealed battery backup bank kicks in as soon as the electricity goes out. It keeps supplying your home or business with electricity without deadly carbon monoxide – and with no exhaust emissions of any kind. You never have to refuel it. It keeps your power on for days, because it starts recharging whenever the sun rises. And when the power’s back it, it cuts your electric bills by as much as 50%. So call us toll-free, or email, to learn more.
Blackouts aren’t fun to begin with, and for tech-loving kids they can be torture, East Texas television station KLTV advises. So they put together these ideas for “turning this surprise into a period of family bonding and fun.”
Glow-stick games – Not only do glow sticks add light, but kids can bend them into bracelets and play glow-in-the-dark tag.
Go camping at home – Now’s a good time to build that fort in the living room with couch cushions. Or you could pitch an actual tent. No campfires on the living-room floor, though.
Ice-cream social – It’s going to melt anyhow, so why not enjoy it while it’s still relatively solid? Invite friends and neighbors to bring their melting ice cream too, and make a party of it.
Shadow puppet show – You’ve got hands and fingers, and you’ve got plenty of darkness. All you need is a flashlight.
Play Mad Libs – You can read from them and fill in the blanks by flashlight.
Make greeting cards – For birthdays, for holidays, for the local nursing home. You just need paper, crayons, kids’ imagination and creativity, and, if the power goes out after daylight hours, flashlights.
Backyard barbecue and Olympics – Might as well fire up the outdoor gas grill and barbecue that meat that would otherwise spoil in your now-warm freezer. While the meat’s grilling, set up relay or three-legged races for the kids, with home-made medals for the winners.
Wash the dog – You have to do it sometime, you can do it outdoors, and, says KLTV, it’s always good for a laugh (except for the dog).
Of course, the best way to survive a power outage is to avoid it in the first place, and that’s precisely what you can do with a Milestone Solar system with battery backup.
A sealed, high-tech battery bank stores up solar-generated electricity, kicks in the instant the power goes out, and recharges with a dependable power source that rises in the East every morning. When the electricity’s working again, the rest of your Milestone Solar system cuts your bills in half, earns you thousands of dollars in tax credits and incentives, and increases your home’s value.So why not phone or email for a Free Solar Evaluation?