Power Outages Are Here To Stay

Power Outages Are Here To Stay

We haven’t seen the worst of it yet!

This is the phone message that tens of thousands of southern California homeowners received last week, myself included. “This is SDG&E with an important message. Due to high energy demand across the state, it may require rotating electrical outages. Please be prepared with your emergency plan.” Five minutes later my entire neighborhood went dark.

Wait, what?!?! I’ve got 5 minutes to get to my home or business and activate my emergency plan??? And do I even have an emergency plan to activate??? And if I do happen to have a plan, what if I can’t get back to my home or business for hours, or worse, for days or weeks to put my plan in action? Will my food rot? Will perishable medical supplies spoil? Will business assets and data be lost? Will critical business equipment fail and crash? Will my pets die? With my security system disabled how will I protect my family, business and possessions?

As the owner of 180 Solar Power, of course I have an emergency plan, but 99% of homeowners do not. I talked about this in my recent blog titled What Has The COVID-19 Pandemic Taught Us So Far?, and I’ve written several other articles, and published social media videos on the topic.

Fortunately, last week’s power outages only lasted a few hours, but the fact of the matter is that you cannot risk not having emergency backup power in this day and age, any more than you can risk not having emergency food and water supplies stored for your home or business. If you doubt me, try this little experiment as a test run. Tell your family that you are going to shut off the main breaker on your house, and you and your family are going to live without electricity for an entire week. Tell them they are not allowed to recharge their phone, tablets or computers at work or anywhere else. If they drive an electric car, tell them they are not allowed to drive it for a week. Literally no electronic devices or appliances for just one week. And don’t forget to empty your refrigerators & freezers first because the smell of rotting food is putrid.

So what will you eat that week? No cheating with take-out food, because in a real power emergency all restaurants will be closed. How will you cook whatever food you happen to have on hand? How long will the batteries on the flashlight last; one night, maybe two? Then what? No cheating and going to the store to buy more batteries because in an emergency the stores would long be sold out of batteries, and candles, and propane, and any other kind of fuel; to say nothing of being sold out of food….and toilet paper. Then what? How will you receive urgent public announcements, and communicate with loved ones in the outside world? How soundly will your family sleep with the home security system disabled, worried that every crack and creak they hear in the night is a potential home invader coming to do them harm? No electricity for a week; how long would your family last? And how about your business? Can you afford to arbitrarily close the doors and take the phones off the hook for a week? Think about it, and then think about it some more.

I challenge you to do it, and see what happens, but you won’t because you know it would cause to much misery for your family, and you know the economic impact on your business would be too severe.

The problem is that as technology has evolved our society has become more and more dependent on electricity and electric devices and appliances. Every year more electric cars hit the roads. The number of TVs, cell phones, tablets, and computers per household grows. Larger and more encompassing home security devices are deployed. More smart home systems like Nest are installed. More refrigerators, freezers, and wine fridges are being added to people’s homes. And the list goes on and on. Businesses too are more computerized and automated with electronic devices than ever before. As a result, the strain on the nation’s electric grid has never been greater, and at the same time the grid is aging and becoming more fragile.

In fact, it’s at the point now that when everyone runs their air conditioning at the same time, the grid cannot generate enough electricity to cover everyone’s demand. Which is exactly why the utility companies were forced to enact the rolling blackouts that the majority of southern Californian’s experienced last week. On top of that, when there is even a threat of high winds, many utility companies shut down huge swaths of the grid as a precaution, because it’s inevitable that old crumbling powerlines will come down and spark massive wildfires that would cost them billions of dollar. It’s only going to get worse over time, and I haven’t even touched on the threats of major long-term black outs that will be caused by natural disasters, or malicious cyber-attacks, all of which are inevitable.

So what’s your emergency plan? The best plan is to install an emergency battery backup system. That, paired with your solar system, will create a renewable, self-sustaining, micro-grid that can power and protect your home or business indefinitely until grid power is restored, whether it takes days, weeks, months or even years, and it will engage automatically whether you’re on site or not. And as an added value, when it’s not in an emergency backup mode your battery can be programed to discharge its power each day between 4 and 9 pm (or at any other time depending on your rate schedule) to help minimize the utility company’s PEAK RATE charges. Thus, providing you with a return on your investment every day.

Don’t wing it, and don’t ignore it. Be responsible by having a specific emergency plan in place to protect your home, family and business. Contact 180 Solar Power for answers, and to get a free quote for an emergency backup solution for your home, business or church. 180 Solar Power is Local, Trusted, Proven.

Life Goes On

Life Goes On

These are interesting and difficult times. Completely unprecedented, in fact. As an “essential business” I have had to continue to operate 180 Solar Power through the stay-at-home orders to provide services to our existing customers, and to install new solar and storage systems for incoming customers. Doing so has required continuous interaction with the public, sometimes in-person and sometimes via phone or video conferences. When I say the public I’m not just talking about our customers. I’m referring to the countless conversations I’ve had with my employees, with people that work for our suppliers and manufacturers, with employees of the cities and counties that process our plans and permits, with Fedex and UPS drivers, office supply delivery people, the mailman, and all of the other supporting businesses and vendors that we interact with on a daily basis.

Being in this unique position has given me broad insights that many people haven’t experienced over the last few months. And one of the most interesting things that I’ve observed is that humanity seems to be falling into one of two categories, those that are frightened and paralyzed by the uncertainty of the future, and those that continue to plan their future and live life despite everything that’s happening.

The reality is we never really know what tomorrow will bring. At any time, any one of us could be killed by a drunk driver, have our life savings swindled out from under our noses by the next Bernie Madoff, have our life destroyed by a natural disaster or any number of other endless disaster scenarios. Yet we don’t live our lives cowering in fear of these things. And in fact, if throughout history we had been paralyzed by the unknown we never would have “sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety two”, or taken “one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind”.

I’m no scientist, and I don’t play one on television, but on a daily basis I have been reading the results of a wide array of studies that are being published about COVID-19 by the most respected medical and academic institutions in the world, and their conclusions are very consistent. Unless you are over sixty years of age and have some sort of comorbidity, the mortality rate for COVID-19 is lower than the flu. That is not intended to in any way minimize the ravages that it has wrought on the lives of tens of thousands of Americans, but simply to put it in some sort of perspective.

The point is that regardless of whether you are in the “frightened and paralyzed” category, or the “planning and living” category, you’re still going to have grocery bills to pay. You’re still going to have phone and cable bills to pay. You’re still going to have water, sewer, gas and electric bills to pay. And you’re still going to have to pay mortgage or rent. The bills are going to keep coming whether we like it or not; whether we are prepared for it or not. Life continues to go on. Which leads to an important lesson that I learned from a client many years ago that I’ll share with you now.

JB was a gentleman in his early eighties, and I was a young man in my late twenties working in the finance industry. Because of his age I repeatedly tried to talk him out of the investment he was interested in, telling him that he was too old, and that it was unlikely that he’d live long enough to see a worthwhile financial benefit. He repeatedly responded by telling me that he was planning to live at least another 10 years, which would be long enough to justify the investment, plus his family would benefit from it even after he died. But more importantly, he said that if he stopped planning to live, he might as well be dead, because life becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Finally, he told me that if I didn’t accept his business he’d find someone else that would. After much discussion he agreed to let me talk to his adult children to get their input.

I subsequently explained everything about it to them and to my shock they told me that they fully supported what their dad wanted to do, because they also believed that if he stopped planning on living it would be the day he’d start dying. So, in the end JB became a client of mine, and a friendship developed that lasted for over a decade before he died. I’ll always treasure the conversations we had and the abundance of wisdom that he shared with me, but one of the most important lesson that I took from him, which seems more relevant today than ever before, is that we need to always keep planning to live, planning our lives, and living life to the fullest every day. Life is a self-fulfilling prophesy, so if you believe you can or will you’ll be right, and if you believe you can’t or won’t you’ll also be right.

Despite the tragedy that some will or have suffered from COVID-19, for the vast majority of us, life will go on. So, don’t stop living. Don’t stop planning to live. Do it for you. Do it for the one’s you love. They are depending on you to do so. And as you plan and live your life each day, one of things you can do to lessen the stress of life is to reduce your revolving monthly expenses.

For most property owners their energy bill is their second largest monthly expenditure after their mortgage payment. Making matters worse, home and business owners are using more electricity than ever before, and they are paying more for their electricity than ever before as utility rates increase every year. And the bills are going to keep coming regardless of what’s happening in the world. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let us help you reduce or eliminate one of the biggest financial burdens that you face each month, and help bring you peace-of-mind. We can install a new solar and storage system for you with no money down, and nice low fixed monthly payments. Find out how our team’s decades of experience and thousands of installations can benefit you. Contact us for a free, no pressure, no obligation quote today, because life is going to keep rolling on. 180 Solar Power is Local, Trusted, Proven.

Solar Ground Mounts 101

Solar Ground Mounts 101

We often have clients tell us that they are interested in having a ground mount installed on their property. Most often it’s because of a fear of roof leaks, concerns about the structural integrity of their roof, too small of a roof to fit enough solar panels, or it could just be as simple as them “having that nice little space over in the corner of their property” that they’re not using for anything else. Whatever the reason, if its doable we’ll make it happen because 180 Solar Power is one of the premier solar ground mount installers in southern California! However, its not always doable, and/or its not always economically feasible because there are usually higher costs associated with installing a ground mount as opposed to a roof mounted system. So let’s talk about the pros and cons, and ins and outs of solar ground mounts to help you become better informed.

The best place to start when talking about ground mounts is feasibility, and feasibility is often limited by building codes. Every jurisdiction (city or county) in southern California has building codes that dictate how far a solar array must be setback from the property lines that surround the property. The codes vary by jurisdiction, and the setback requirements are usually different for the front, back and sides of the property. However, they usually range from 5 to 25 feet on each side. Additionally, there is usually a code that dictates how far from a home or business’ structural foundation the array must be setback. Because many of the properties in southern California are set on smaller land parcels, it disqualifies a good number of projects where there is not enough space to fit a ground mount after all of the setbacks are taken into consideration.

If a property is large enough to fit a solar array the next considerations are soil conditions, land contours (angle and pitch), shading obstructions, trenching distances, septic leach fields, etcetera; many of which can not only affect mechanical feasibility, but also potentially the economic feasibility of installing a ground mount. But before we get into any of that, a basic explanation should be given about how a ground mount structure is designed, erected, and secured in place, which is also regulated by building codes.

One of the first design elements that’s guided by these codes relates to wind shear, which is the amount of uplift that the wind causes on a solar array. Wind shear has a big impact on the design and construction of a ground mount structure, which is usually anchored on a two or three inch galvanized pipe frame. The higher the array is tilted off the ground the more of a sail-like affect the wind will have on the array. Therefore, the intent of the code is to make sure that the array is anchored well enough to withstand the strongest of winds, which is usually designated to be no less than 100 mph. To accomplish this, the code specifies what the depth of the post holes must be before the posts are set to depth and the holes are filled with concrete (piers). This varies based on conditions, but in general piers must be at least 12 inches in diameter, and 48 inches deep. It is also typical that piers cannot be spaced more than 7 to 9 feet apart, so it would not be unusual to have anywhere from 8 to 16 piers, or more, on a residential installation, and possibly scores or even hundreds of them on a commercial installation, depending on how large the array is. In addition to that, to get the electricity from the solar array to the property’s electric panel the conduit and wires that run from the array to the electric panel also have to be trenched and buried at a minimum depth of 18 inches. Depending on the site plan it can be a significant amount of excavation, which in turn could have a big impact on the cost of the project. Additionally, soil conditions can come into play. Excavation costs that may be reasonable for a standard clay-based soil, could soar beyond reason on a foundation that is set largely on granite or some other rocky substrate. That is not to say that it would be “mechanically” impossible to install it over a rocky substrate, but the cost could be so much higher that it could make it “economically” unfeasible to do so.

Another important code that could impact a ground mount’s feasibility is whether a property is on sewer or septic. If a property is on septic, neither the array nor the conduit can run over or through the septic system’s leach field, which sometimes disqualifies properties that would otherwise be good candidates for a ground mount.

As far as a property’s contours are concerned, we often encounter property owners who propose that an array be mounted on an excessively steep slope, or facing in a direction that would be detrimental to the power production of the solar system. If a site is excessively steep it may not be feasible because of codes relating to erosion prevention, and even if it is not subject to any such code, there could be higher costs incurred due to the added difficulty and time that may be associated with the project. Furthermore, if the only viable location on the property is on a hill that faces steeply to the north, for example, the reduced energy output of the array could render the project unfeasible because of the extraordinarily low power output and the potentially negative impact on the project’s return on investment (ROI).

Lastly, as with any solar system, shading obstructions need to be taken into consideration. If there is a tree shading the location, and it is on the property owner’s land, it’s shade can be mitigated by trimming or removing the tree. However, if the tree shade is coming from a tree located on a neighbor’s property one would need to get permission from the other property owner to trim or remove the tree. And if the shade is coming from an unalterable, unmovable object such as a neighboring building, or other structure, that too could simply render the project unfeasible.

There are other things to take into consideration that could also affect the cost of a ground mount, such as the distance from the array to the electric panel; because the longer that distance is, the more trenching that will be required, as well as possibly needing heavier gauge wire and larger conduit to counter act voltage drop. But regardless of whether or not that is the case, you can expect that the overall price of a ground mount will be higher than a roof mounted system because of the additional costs incurred for the excavation, concrete, structural materials, and labor associated with installing a ground mount.

For property owners who are interested in ground mounts because of their fear of roof leaks, it may not be an unfounded concern, depending on which solar company is hired to do the work. There is no denying that there have been horror stories about leaky roofs caused by shady fly-by-night contractors….who were also probably the lowest priced bid on the job. However, price and quality rarely go hand in hand, and most often the lowest priced product will end up having the highest cost of ownership, which could come in many forms including in the form of a leaky roof. On the other hand, if you hire an experienced licensed contractor with a strong reputation and documentable track record, like 180 Solar Power, roof leaks are not something a property owner should worry about. Having installed thousands and thousands of solar systems over the years, the 180 Solar Power team has developed well establish installation protocols to prevent roof leaks. That combined with the specialized sealants, flashings, and mounting brackets that we use allows us to offer comprehensive warranties that protect property owners against roof leaks. That is one of the reasons why the choice of which contractor to hire should be the most critical part of a property owners decision making process, and not the rock bottom lowest price.

If the concern is that a property’s roof has a more fragile lightweight or clay tile, there are installation methods and work-arounds for that, so it shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent. For standard weight tile roofs, a property owner can expect that a handful of tiles will get cracked or broken in the installation process, but any reputable contractor will replace all cracked or broken tiles just like we do at 180 Solar Power. If the property’s roof tiles are older and are no longer being manufactured, they can still usually be sourced from businesses that specialize in selling older used tiles.

For property owners that have concern about their roof’s integrity, or its ability to support the weight of an entire solar system, it too may be a valid concern. In that case, the following things are important to know and could help make that determination. First of all, if your roof is nearing the end of its life, it should definitely be addressed. It makes no sense to install a solar system, which should have an operating life of 30 to 40 years, over a roof that will need to be replaced in the next few years. This is common sense for most property owners, but they still face the challenge of trying to figure out how to pay for the cost of a new roof. The good news is that there are many lenders that will finance a solar/roof project with zero money down, and the combined payment for the solar and roof together is often less than what the property owner is currently spending each month on their electricity bills alone. Furthermore, if in the course of installing a solar system you are going to spend thousands of extra dollars for either a new roof, or for a ground mount structure, many people find that it make more sense to get the duel benefit of investing it in a new roof rather than sinking it into a ground mount structure that still leaves you with an unaddressed roof condition. So, don’t let the fact that you need a roof replacement be a deterrent.

As far as overall weight concerns go, most solar systems will add less than 3 pounds per square foot to the roof, which is less than the maximum allowable under most circumstances. However, there are strict codes that dictate how much weight can be added to a roof by a solar system depending on the roof’s structure. Furthermore, every solar permit application must be submitted with detailed roof load calculations to show that the solar system’s weight will not exceed the capacity of the roof, and in some circumstances full engineering reports must even be submitted. Your solar contractor should be able to perform all of these calculations and manage the entire permitting process for you.

It is also worth mentioning that there are no reputable contractors that would not conduct a thorough, detailed, in-person site survey of your property as the first step of the process. Contractors that try to induce property owners to sign contracts without ever setting foot on their property are an invitation to disaster for the property owner and should be a warning to run the other way.

The goal of this article was to help bring some clarity and offer some education regarding the installation of ground mounted solar systems. As was stated in the opening paragraph, 180 Solar Power is one of the premier solar ground mount installers in southern California, we love doing them, and if a project if feasible we’ll make it happen. However, I also wanted to inform property owners that some of the reasons that they might fear installing a solar system on their roof may not be entirely valid. Also, keep in mind that this article can only offer general guidelines regarding the installation of ground mounted solar systems because every property and project is unique. Therefore, nothing in the article should be construed as a definitive assessment of your personal project. Before that can be done, a complete in-person assessment would need to be conducted by one of our technicians.

At the end of the day, whether it is installed on the ground or on the roof, solar and storage is a far better solution than continuing to pay ever increasing electricity rates to your utility company, year after year, without end. If you have more detailed questions, or would like to schedule some time with one of our licensed technicians to review a ground mount or any other type of solar and storage system for your property, call 760-264-4012 or email us at info@180solarpower.com. 180 Solar Power is Local, Trusted, Proven!

BATTERY STORAGE 101

BATTERY STORAGE 101

In this article we will discuss some of the key elements of battery storage systems for homes and businesses. It will provide you with a solid knowledge base to help you understand the basics of battery storage, to empower you to ask the right questions of the electrical contractors that you are interviewing, and to help you end up with a system that meets your specific needs, taking into consideration your budget.

After witnessing how rapidly and completely COVID-19 ravaged our society, and how ill prepared everyone was for it, it got me thinking about how generally unprepared we are for the inevitable disasters we have seen and been warned about year after year. And when one thinks about disaster preparedness for their home or business, the obvious starting point is to make sure you have a secure independent power supply.

Without electricity to power our refrigerators and freezers, our food and medical supplies will quickly perish. Communication and security devices will fail to operate. Fuel and potable drinking water will not be able to be produced and distributed on a mass basis, if at all. Businesses will lose billions of dollars’ worth of data, and their operations will be paralyzed. Everyone will literally be left in the dark. And the inevitability of catastrophic grid failures is a certainty.

Planned rolling blackouts caused by excessive load demand in the summer are already annual events, as utility companies struggle to meet peak demand. Utility companies also blackout entire regions during fire season when high winds threaten to blow down aging power lines which in turn could cause massive wildfires. But even beyond that we have repeatedly seen and been warned about bigger and longer lasting grid failures caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, meteor impacts, EMPs (electromagnetic pulses), cyber-attacks, and the list goes on. Recent history proves this to be true in places like Puerto Rico where Hurricane Maria decimated the electric grid leaving most of the island without electric power for over a year, and even as recently as yesterday when tornados ripped through southern states leaving over 1,000,000 people without electric power, and with no idea when they will have their power restored. The only way to protect yourself from this same vulnerability is to have independent emergency battery backup power for your home and business; to be independent of the utility company’s electric grid. So let’s discuss battery storage, and answer some of the basic questions that many people have.

While some battery storage systems can be charged via the grid, this article is going to assume that your storage system is paired with a solar system for infinite charging capability in the event of a grid failure. Otherwise, when the grid goes down you will no longer be able to recharge your batteries, rendering the entire system useless.

Inverter/Component Selection
With that said, the first thing to know about battery storage is that all batteries store electricity as low voltage DC electricity (the same as the low voltage DC electricity that your solar panels produce), but your home and business (“property”) runs on higher voltage AC electricity, so inverters are used to convert the electricity from DC to AC, and in some cases from AC back to DC, as explained in more detail below. Second, it is important to know that inverters fall into one of two general categories: string or micro. String inverters use a single inverter to convert all of your system’s electricity from DC to AC in one central location, whereas micro inverters convert electricity in multiple locations so you are not subject to the risk of being dependent on just one inverter, thereby providing a modicum of redundancy as added security. Additionally, micro inverter-based systems commonly offer more flexibility and have greater output capabilities, so in general they have a higher entry point in terms of price. As with everything, there are pros and cons for string and micro inverters. But regardless which you decide on, they are both proven technologies, and they both offer high levels of efficacy, so either one could be a good solution for you depending on your personal requirements. In Addition, some storage systems are bundled as “all-in-one” solutions, which means that all the critical component come packaged in one consolidated unit that includes inverters, transfer switches, charge controllers, etc. While others are constructed on a piecemeal basis with the various components of the system, manufactured by different companies, having to be put together by the installing electrical contractor on site. There is no right are wrong when it comes to these choices. Deciding which is right for you will depend on your budget and your performance requirements, and your electrical contractor should be able to provide you with unbiased information to help determine which solution is best for you.

AC/DC Coupling
The next item to be aware of is the difference between AC coupling and DC coupling. DC coupled storage systems tie into your property’s electrical system between your solar panels and your inverter, so the DC electricity from your solar panels can be stored directly in your batteries without having to be converter by an inverter. Thereafter, the DC electricity can be fed from the batteries into your inverter and converted into AC electricity that can be delivered for use in your property’s electrical system. AC coupled storage systems ties into your property’s electrical system between the AC side of the inverter and your property’s electric panel. Because of the location of the tie in, the stored electricity ultimately needs to be converted 3 times before it can be delivered for use in your property’s electric panel. Initially your solar system’s electricity is converted from DC to AC by your solar system’s inverter, it is then converted back to DC to be stored on the batteries, and lastly it needs to be converted back to AC one more time before it can be used in your property’s electrical system. Therefore, a DC coupled system could have a higher efficiency, however, it will also be more exposed to the risk of a catastrophic system wide failure that could come with the use of a single string inverter. If you are starting from scratch with a brand new solar and storage system, AC or DC coupling will be equally easy to install. However, if you are adding storage to an existing solar system it could be more efficient to install an AC coupled system, so you don’t have the added cost of replacing your existing solar inverter. Again, there are pros and cons and budgetary considerations for both, but regardless of whether you end up with an AC or DC coupled system, installing solar and storage will provide incredible financial savings and disaster preparedness for your property.

Power Versus Capacity
This is a largely misunderstood consideration for most property owners because it is usually inadequately explained to them by the person or company that is trying to sell a storage system to them. Capacity is the total maximum amount of electricity that can be stored on your batteries at any one time, and its measured in kWh (kilowatt hours). Power is a measurement of how much electricity can be delivered from your batteries to your property’s electrical system for use in real time, which is measured in KW, or kVA (kilowatts). To use an analogy, Capacity is like the gas tank on your car, which is measured by how many total gallons it will hold. Power is how much of your car’s fuel you can convert to horsepower in real time. So you can have a car that holds hundreds of gallons of fuel in its tank, but if you can only access enough of that fuel to generate 20 horsepower at any given time, it’s not going to do you much good. Most consumers only look at, or are only shown, a system’s Capacity. And as just stated above, all the Capacity in the world will do you little good if it can’t be delivered when you need it, and in the quantity that you need it delivered in. This is not to say that total storage Capacity is not important. However, Power should be equally, if not even more importantly considered, as that is the greatest limitation of most storage systems. Furthermore, storage systems are rated for Continuous Power Output, which is its maximum steady state output capability, as well as for Peak Power Output which is slightly higher, but will generally be limited to about 5 seconds to cover electrical surges that are caused by large appliances when they initially start up. You should know the Capacity and Power (continuous and peak) ratings of the storage systems you are considering, so when you need that emergency power you won’t have any unpleasant surprises.

Load Shifting, Emergency Backup or Off-Grid
Another important consideration for property owners is what they want their battery storage system to be able to do. In the old days before there were concerns about peak demand on the electric grid, rolling blackouts, Time Of Use billing, or catastrophic grid failures resulting from natural or man-made catastrophes, solar and storage was rarely considered other than in situations where a property was beyond the reach of the utility grid (thus, “off-grid”). However, all of that has changed. Now in addition to providing off-grid power to those who live beyond the reach of the utility grid, storage systems may have the ability to Load Shift, and to provide emergency backup power to grid tied properties. Load Shifting is when solar or grid electricity from a grid tied property is stored on the batteries during the day, and then discharged in the evening when utility rates are at their highest (Peak rates), thereby maximizing the return on your investment. Emergency Backup occurs when electricity that is stored on your batteries automatically discharges to your property in the event of a grid failure. Having solar and storage transforms your emergency backup system into a renewable energy source that can recharge itself every day, indefinitely, for as long as a grid failure exists. And whereas an off-grid system is generally designed to power an entire property, an emergency backup system can and often is designed just to cover a grid tied property’s critical loads (ie: refrigerators, freezers, communication and security devices, data system, and any other loads that you couldn’t live or exist without), thereby reducing the capital outlay required to install a storage system.

Chemistry
Today’s modern storage systems are all UL tested, and are extremely safe. However, various storage systems use different chemistries in their batteries, with some providing an even higher level of safety than others. In instances where electrical contractors or manufacturers make claims regarding the stability and safety of their chemistry, they should be able to provide independent laboratory testing to support those claims. Furthermore, a battery’s chemistry may also limit the storage system’s depth-of-discharge (how much of the battery’s stored electricity you can actually discharge without damaging the batteries), and the life span of the battery, which is measured in both years and “cycles” (how many times a battery can be discharged and recharged). This is something that needs to be closely examined because two different systems that both guarantee a 10 year life and 3,000 cycles can provide vastly different amounts of power over their life depending on their depth-of-discharge, Capacity, and continuous Power capabilities.

How Much Storage Do You Need?
No two properties are the same, and no two property owners’ needs and goals are the same. Just like when designing a solar system, every storage system should be custom designed to a property’s specific needs and characteristics. Therefore, make sure that you are working with an experienced licensed electrical contractor who can not only answer all of your questions, but more importantly, one that knows all the right questions to ask you, and one that can perform proper load calculations depending on your overall goals and which loads you want to back-up. There are few storage systems that are easily expandable, so in most instances you’ve only got one shot to get it right.

Financing and Government Incentives
Lastly, it is important to mention that there are financing options available for almost every property owner regardless of their credit history, many of which require little or no money down. Additionally, there are still huge state and federal incentive that could pay for up to half of the cost of your system, but like all good things they will be coming to an end in the near future. Our licensed technicians can provide you with detailed information on both.

I hope this information helps to make you a smarter consumer as you evaluate solar and storage for your home or business. If you would like more detailed information about your specific project, we would welcome the opportunity to personally answer all your questions and provide you with a free quote. We install solar and storage systems as a package, as well as retrofitting new storage systems to pre-existing solar systems. We can even design and install a standalone grid-tied storage system without solar if your only goal is load shifting. Like I said before, every system is custom designed to the specific property’s goals, characteristics, and budget.

180 Solar Power is a premier provider of battery storage and solar systems throughout Southern California. The 180 Solar Power team brings the experience of over 30 years, and thousands of installations to every job we undertake. 180 Solar Power installs and services residential, commercial, non-profit, and government solar and battery storage systems for projects up to one megawatt. Contact us for a quote on a custom designed system for your project today; no cost, no obligation, no pressure.

Peter Stern is the president of 180 Solar Power. He’s a pioneer in the solar industry in Southern California, having overseen the installation of thousands of renewable energy projects for more than a decade.

What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught us so far?

What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught us so far?

Was this you?

Were you prepared for it? You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen the movies. ’Contagion’,‘Outbreak’, ‘Virus’; all the classic Hollywood end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it disaster movies. But like most people you probably said to yourself, “that’ll never happen here”.  Well, now we know differently. It can and it does, so let’s get serious.

Fortunately, this time most people were finally able to get the food supplies they needed, but it took a lot of hard work and patience, and it still does. We were also fortunate that this time there was no major damage to the country’s fragile aging infrastructure. This time it wasn’t “the end”. But what if it was? In an even greater crisis, in addition to having food and water stores for a minimum of two weeks, and up to 6 months, do you have an emergency coordination/communication plan for your family? Do you have transportation, medical supplies, cooking fuel, candles, flashlights, batteries, radios, emergency backup power, and all the other things that you’ve been warned to stockpile over the years? If the answer is “no”, as it undoubtedly is, then this is your wakeup call. This is the lesson that people should learn from the COVID-19 crisis.

We’ve learned that it is no longer a matter of “if”. It is a matter of “when”. And pandemics aren’t the only real threat that we face. In addition to the fact that our country’s infrastructure is old and fragile and starting to fail on its own, leading government and private sector experts have long been warning about infrastructure destroying cyber-attacks by hostile actors. They have been warning about grid destroying Electro Magnetic Pulses (EMPs), both naturally occurring, and manmade. They have been warning about massive earthquakes, and colossal extinction level volcanic eruptions from the Pacific Northwest to Yellowstone Park. They’ve been warning about planet killing meteors, floods, tornados, fires, hurricanes, tsunamis, and the list goes on. Think it’s a joke? Think again. Governments worldwide spend billions of dollars each year researching, preparing, and enacting measures to try to mitigate the effects of these inevitable disasters.

Yet ironically, while Americans invest billions of dollars each year buying insurance policies to protect themselves from threats to their financial security (life, health, medical, home, car, fire, flood and earthquake insurance), they make virtually no investment in disaster survival preparations. And of all the disaster survival preparations that Americans should be making right now, an emergency power supply is the most critical for when the electric utility grid fails.

The reason an emergency power supply is the most important part of your disaster survival preparation portfolio is because without electricity to run your refrigerator and freezer it would only be a matter of hours or days before all of your perishable food and medical stores would spoil. There would be no way to power or charge radios, cell phones, ham radios, televisions, computers or any other type of emergency communications equipment. Burglar alarms and surveillance systems would be completely incapacitated, leaving property owners vulnerable at the time they most needed their protection. There would be no electricity to power the lights in your home, leaving you completely in the dark when all of the candles and flashlight batteries were gone. There would be no power to run your kitchen appliances, leaving you with limited options to cook the food you did have. Without electricity there would be no power to operate the pumps at gasoline stations, thereby rendering gas generators, cars, and all other gas-powered equipment obsolete. HVAC and air filtration units would become inoperable, garage door openers would cease to open, electric cars would become massive paperweights, and so on.

Furthermore, at a time when all of us are self-quarantining at home because of COVID-19, stop for a moment and imagine what your life would look like if your quarantine was taking place in a home…..with no electricity. Then imagine it stretching on like that for 6 months in a row…..or longer.
What would life be like for you and your family if you were quarantined in your home for 6 month or more with no electric power whatsoever?

The problem is that “the grid” is not just a small network connecting a few thousand homes in Southern California. Southern California’s grid is part of a massive interconnected web of wires, substations, and generating facilities that run up and down the entire west coast of the United States, and through Mexico and Canada. It is all interconnected, which means that any single point of failure anywhere along the line could derail power to anywhere or everywhere on the west coast for days, weeks, months or years, depending on the severity of the damage.

An example of this occurred in the summer of 2011 as a result of California’s dependence on electric power imports from Arizona, when a “human error” made by a technician caused an instantaneous power failure to approximately 2.7 million people up and down the west coast. In 2003 a software bug at FirstEnergy Corporation in Ohio caused a massive blackout that affected 45 million people in 8 northeastern and midwestern states. And in 1998 a simple lightning storm caused cascading transmission line failures that were so devastating that the northern midwestern region of the United States was completely separated from the eastern grid leaving people across the upper mid-west and central Canada without power. None of those outages lasted more than 24 hours, however, at some point in the future a more devastating and crippling disaster will cause an extended grid failure on just such a scale, or greater. Its just a matter of when. This also illustrates how these catastrophic events doesn’t need to happen right in your backyard for it to leave you completely incapacitated.

So what has the COVID-19 episode taught us so far? Be prepare for the worst, and do it now. Take every possible step to protect your family now. Make sure that you have a secure private renewable power source to power your family’s emergency electric loads, preserve your food and medical stores, power your communication and security devices, power your critical home appliances, lights, and any other equipment that you need to keep your house running and your family secure, even in the event of a total grid failure.

Furthermore, its important to emphasize that you should invest in a secure renewable power source, because generators cannot generate power without gasoline, and batteries cannot be recharged by an electric grid that is no longer functioning. Invest in a battery storage & solar system, fueled by the endless power of the sun, to create your own secure, private, renewable power infrastructure today.
It’s the only way to guarantee that you and your family will never be without the safety and security of electric power. And in the meantime, you’ll save money on your electric bill even while the grid is operable, because the cost of solar and storage power is a fraction of what utility electricity costs. So it’s a win-win either way.

180 Solar Power is a premier provider of battery storage and solar systems throughout Southern California. The 180 Solar Power team brings the experience of over 30 years, and thousands of installations to every job we undertake. 180 Solar Power installs and services residential, commercial, non-profit, and government solar and battery storage systems for projects up to one megawatt. Contact us for a quote on a custom designed system for your project today; no cost, no obligation, no pressure.

Peter Stern is the president of 180 Solar Power. He’s a pioneer in the solar industry in Southern California, having overseen the installation of thousands of renewable energy projects for more than a decade.

PREPARE FOR SOLAR POWER BEFORE INSTALLATION

PREPARE FOR SOLAR POWER BEFORE INSTALLATION

If you’re ready to free yourself from the grip of utility based electricity and its never ending rate increases, and you’re looking for the best alternative, solar panels might offer you the solution you want. Solar power positions you to reduce or completely eliminate your current electricity bills, convert to clean renewable energy, and do so while taking advantage of substantial government incentives. The 180 Solar Power team of experts can help you learn more about solar power while you research all of your options. When you’re ready to get started, the information below will help you prepare for the three most common issues to address before the installation of your new solar system installation.

 Make Sure Your Roof is Ready for Solar Panels

 The high quality solar systems that we install can produce energy for decades, so if your roof needs an upgrade, or you have concerns about its integrity, it is best to address it before your solar system is installed. Installing solar on a bad roof will cost a homeowner thousands of additional dollars when it comes time to remove and reinstall the solar system later when you finally reroof. 180 Solar Power performs a complete roof analysis prior to the installation of every solar system, providing professional guidance to ensure the best long term outcome from your solar panel investment.

Trim Nearby Trees

Shade from any source will reduce the output of your solar panels. And while some causes of shade are not addressable (for example, shade from a neighbor’s house on your roof), others, such as shade caused by trees can be mitigated. Prior to every solar system installation 180 Solar Power performs a detailed shade analysis to determine if there are trees shading the area where the solar panels will be installed. If there are we will inform you of it and what the expected impact will be, so you have the option of addressing it.

Three Foot Clearance

Your local utility company will perform an inspection prior to authorizing you to turn on your solar system, which is known as Permission To Operate, or PTO. One of the most important things they will look for will be the 3 foot clearance required on both sides and in front of the electric panel. Many property owners have shrubs, fences, gates or other obstructions around or in front of their electric panel. It is best to address any such obstructions before inspection, as a re-inspection can add days or weeks to the granting of your PTO.

Let Us Take the Lead

 With more than 2,000 solar installations and 30 years of experience, the 180 Solar Power team knows and follows all building codes, safety precautions and installation requirements, so we can have you up and running, quickly and safely. Whether your property is residential, commercial, non-profit, or governmental, 180 Solar Power is ready to make your dream of alternative solar power a reality.