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Thinking about Batteries?

By Tom Brdanovic from Down to Earth Sustainable Solutions

tom solar

Recently there has been a lot of interest in battery storage solutions for households. People often ask me what they need to do in order to install batteries at their home. In my opinion there are two paths we, as designers, can take when designing a storage system solution, and the choice of path depends on the desired level of end user contribution.

The first path is where money is not a driving factor for the end user. In this case, maintaining the current customer comfort levels is the primary goal and consumption patterns remain the priority. These systems are easy to design but they come at a much higher cost. As compromise is not an option, a storage system will need to be designed to meet heavy energy demands, which results in an expensive storage solution.To reduce the system cost, this scenario could drive an out­-of-­the-­box solution, using one of the storage packages currently available on the market. This might not exactly fit the needs of the consumer, as these storage systems will usually be either too big and with limitations not usually advertised, such as lack of back­up function, maximum load demand etc.

The second path, our preferred approach, is where customer takes part in the process and a more cost ­effective system is developed. So how do we start this process and how do we engage the household in the process?

The first step is acknowledgment of what energy the household uses daily and how those habits contribute to the overall energy load. Once they understand these patterns (and perhaps make some changes), we then need to look into the energy consumption of the electrical equipment currently powering their habits. This process requires an understanding of basic units of energy and their cost which will assist in understanding what is required to install a storage system coupled with a solar system. Once the home­owner grasps this, they will start to realise some potential savings and this is the place where we want them to be.

From this point we can talk about the strategies to further minimise the overall consumption, shifting the loads to daytime hours if there is solar on the site and emphasising the benefits of smaller and cheaper energy storage alternatives. This second approach will help people save money even if they aren’t in the market for an energy storage purchase.

For all these reasons, we encourage our customers to get involved and contribute to their system in a design process. This service is a critical part of all our offers, and during our consultation period we make sure we understand our customer’s needs and that they understand the solution we are offering.

As we always say, put yourself in control and if you want to save on energy costs, the cheapest way is to not use it. This is still the cheapest and the most cost effective energy saving solution.

Tom is also a member of the Transition Gawler Steering Committee and is passionate about renewable energy, and new emerging technologies. If you are interested in finding out more about solar power and battery storage, or how to make your house more energy efficient, contact Tom or Rachel at Down to Earth Sustainable Solutions



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