By George Kuo, Senior Director, Product & Solutions, Americas, MSS Business Unit at Canadian Solar
American homeowners were expected to have installed a record 5.6 GW of residential solar in 2022, according to BloombergNEF. While the residential storage market has been slower to take off, various factors may indicate that consumers could be willing to include batteries along with their PV systems.
As grid constraints, public safety power shut-offs, fires and other natural disasters have become increasingly common, homeowners feel the painful, inconvenient effects. At the same time, while electricity costs for fossil fuel power continue to rise, California’s recent net-metering policy changes provide lower credits for selling surplus solar back to the grid and incentivize homes that reserve excess power in batteries. Other states facing grid instability may soon follow. Additionally, energy storage of at least 3 kWh of capacity is now eligible for personal income tax credits of up to 30% under the new Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Families that take advantage of the clean energy credits in the IRA can expect to save roughly $23,000 in 2023. The results of the most recent Midterm election provide certainty that the IRA will transform American industry and boost renewables, electric vehicles and other sources of zero-carbon energy. The bill will entice homeowners who seek lower electric bills for heating and cooling, cooking, internet, lighting and electric vehicle charging.
Technology has continued to evolve, and manufacturers have developed some exciting solutions. While traditionally, users had to choose between powering critical and non-critical loads with partial home battery backup, today it’s possible to have a solar-backed storage solution that can hold enough power to run a home’s air conditioning, major appliances and charge an EV, all while keeping the lights on. With product advancement and generous government incentives, it doesn’t have to be more expensive than powering critical loads. Fast configuration and flexible features bolster the benefits of on-demand power, storm protection, lower utility bills and full-home energy management with minimal maintenance and intelligent integration. Installers are embracing these new all-in-one systems due to their flexibility, intelligence and minimal crew required to install, set up and support the products.
Closing the education gap
The market potential for whole-home storage is twofold, with viability for first-time residential solar projects or retrofits of existing PV systems. The major obstacle to widespread residential storage is the same that the industry faced with selling home solar: education. Again, the task will mainly fall on installers interacting directly with current and potential customers. Solar power providers can help clients by providing information about the products and highlighting the benefits of resiliency, cost and scalability to fuel future energy needs.
Here are some essential points for installers to keep in mind when helping homeowners understand how they can benefit from whole-home residential storage options while also considering a smooth implementation and maintenance experience for satisfied customers.
Full home vs. critical load
Critical load backup: Traditional residential energy storage technology can only provide enough electricity to power essentials such as heating, lighting, refrigeration and outlets for small appliances and charging devices.
Full-home backup: Including enough storage for electricity to power the entire home eliminates the need for homeowners to choose which loads will be available during an outage. Whole-home load management covers critical and non-critical loads such as air conditioning, water heaters, laundry, ovens and stoves.
Important factors for homeowners and installers to consider when deciding between partial vs. full-home backup include:
Cost: Residential energy storage is modular. Homeowners can add more battery modules or units to accommodate more loads. Installers can help homeowners understand how many units it will take to provide partial or full home backup and how this affects cost.In discussing cost, it’s also important for homeowners to understand that, with technology advancements and IRA tax benefits, full-home backup doesn’t have to be more expensive. It’s understandable to assume that whole-home load management systems would cost significantly more, requiring multiple inverters, larger batteries and longer installation times. However, innovative residential energy storage systems offer slim, stackable battery modules, DC-coupled hybrid inverters and turnkey systems with increased intelligence and maximum storage capacity. The flexibility to power partial or full-home backup appeals to homeowners because they can maximize efficiency at their discretion and validate their investment. Installing energy storage solutions in smaller increments allows them to rightsize their home, customize capacity and optimize usage and consumption, ultimately leading to substantial cost savings over time.
Meanwhile, the IRA includes $80 billion in rebates, including as much as $14,000 in money back. These subsidies allow homeowners to make additional upgrades like electric water heaters and cooktops that decrease the use of expensive fossil fuels.
According to estimates from the nonprofit Rewiring America, families that use funding from the bill to switch to greener technology could save between $1,050 to $2,585 per year on energy bills. Homeowners can also stack federal incentives combined with those of state programs, as with solar and storage in California.
Installation: Previous non-partial home power products have been complex to configure and costly to maintain, but high-tech advancements have made wiring less complex, modules lighter and installation and configuration faster. Distributors can assist by helping installers understand the intricacies of new systems so that installers can, in turn, help homeowners weigh the pros and cons of adding different-sized units for the best long-term fit.
Space and aesthetics: While homeowners may picture bulky, unattractive storage units of the past, today they can enjoy sleek, stackable models that occupy much less space. Many energy storage providers offer slim weather-resistant units with the flexibility for housing indoors or outdoors and can be wall-mounted or placed at ground level.
Safety: Residential energy storage systems vary by size, capacity and battery chemistry; however, the most trusted global energy providers develop solutions with safety as the top priority, focusing on building long-term solutions that comply with the most stringent safety standards. Solutions like Canadian Solar’s EP Cube contain lithium-iron phosphate batteries and completed UL 9540A safety tests, signifying a superior safety rating and a key differentiator in the emerging marketplace.
Performance: Manufacturers take these measures to certify the battery modules effectively prevent thermal runaway and ensure overall performance, chemical stability and longer service life. Installers value simplicity and speed when it comes to serving a customer. The advancements in these whole-home solutions help installers work more efficiently and expand their services with reliable, high-performance products requiring minimal maintenance and support.
The future of energy independence
It’s important to note that homeowners also hear critics and naysayers of clean energy initiatives downplay the uptick in residential solar and storage and deny that these solutions are sustainable globally for future generations. With so much confusion and overwhelming information, consumers are relying on industry experts to be trusted sources. It’s the installer’s role to help homeowners choose the smartest solution to ensure their needs will be met and that their investment will generate a return.
Understanding the advantages and details of installing a full-home backup system is key to helping consumers feel confident that they are making intelligent decisions for their homes and the environment. Homeowners can also feel good about reducing emissions by relying more on clean energy. Residential solar coupled with storage investments can help dramatically cut carbon pollution. The billions in funding promised by the IRA are set to energize the future of residential solar and energy storage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Energy storage continues to evolve with new solutions coming to market daily that offer sleek design, fast configuration and built-in intelligence. Leading global energy providers must meet the growing demand for residential solar with a vision to instill energy independence, an easy installation process and relief for the homeowner. The ability to power an entire house in a cost-effective manner is an exciting step in the future of residential energy independence and, in turn, combatting the effects of climate change. With further consumer education, we should see vast market growth in 2023.
Dale Krause says
I am interested in a system for my San Juan, Puerto Rico, home. I want constant power with no interruptions. Presently when the power grid goes out, my diesel generator kicks on. The few-second delay forces my computer system to restart. When I am on a zoom call, it creates problems, especially when I am the presenter.
Green Ridge Solar says
This is an important piece of education for the public. As a local solar company, we speak with many potential customers who are confused about the cost and capabilities of energy storage and battery backup systems. While battery backup and energy storage can be beneficial for many families and businesses, homeowners and business owners need to know that battery backup is limited in its current stage and costly. But battery technology is coming a long way and making batteries more and more affordable and useful for the everyday consumer.
” Fast configuration and flexible features bolster the benefits of on-demand power, storm protection, lower utility bills and full-home energy management with minimal maintenance and intelligent integration. Installers are embracing these new all-in-one systems due to their flexibility, intelligence and minimal crew required to install, set up and support the products.”
It is this technology “availability” and packaged cost that makes the overall technology “stack” so powerful. When one ‘adds’ the cost of energy together the monetary value of not having a regular monthly electric bill, not having a natural gas bill, with the adoption of smart ESS at home and a BEV not having a monthly gasoline bill out of the “household budget”. Some folks have found going with a large solar PV array, smart ESS and a BEV one can save from $6K to $10K a year on energy costs. Do this for 10 years, do this for 20 years, 30 year, life and see the savings. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Ronald C Burton says
Our Solar Project also generates KWH Credits That I call “Sky Mining.” Like Crypto Mining. Adding more passive income. This is my Solar and Cryptocurrency mining project and financing the project. Video shows prototype 4 drum constant torque spring motor