Future Proof an Off-Grid Battery Bank
Many people have turned to off-grid solar power as a way to become less reliant on grid-supplied power and separate themselves from the ever-rising costs of electricity. But when you’re completely dependent on your own energy production to power your home, you must plan for your current needs and potential future needs. Keep reading to learn more about how to future-proof your off-grid battery bank with proper planning and the use of Simpliphi off-grid batteries.
Think Through Seasonal Changes
When building your battery bank, it’s important to consider your current energy needs and how those needs might change throughout the seasons. In particular, most solar users will see a large dip in energy production during the winter months. So, if you’re sizing your battery bank in the summer, you’ll want to make sure that you include a significant buffer in the sizing to account for that lower energy production. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself running your batteries dry regularly and need to rely on backup power sources.
Of course, you should also consider how your own energy needs might change through the seasons as well. Depending on the climate where you live, you might run your air conditioner a lot more than you run your heater throughout the year, so you should expect your consumption to spike in summer or vice versa if you live in a colder area. Keep these in mind as well when sizing your battery bank.
Have Another Source of Energy
Speaking of backup power sources, this is another essential element to future-proofing your off-grid battery bank. No matter how carefully you plan, the odds are that you’re going to run out of stored energy at some point. A week of very overcast weather is usually more than enough to cause most off-grid systems to turn to other energy sources. Typically, a generator is the best bet for backing up your system; it relies on other types of fuel (like propane or gasoline), so you have another option for powering your home aside from sunlight. Of course, make sure that you keep some fuel for your generator on hand so you’re ready if you need to use it.
You should also ensure that your inverter has an automatic generator starter (AGS) module, which will automatically start your generator when other energy sources are depleted. This saves you from having to go out into the snow in the middle of winter to start up your generator by hand. In this way, adding an AGS to your inverter can future-proof your personal convenience. While it’s certainly possible to do this every time you need to use your generator, it’s not exactly enjoyable.
Utilize Monitoring Apps
Modern solar inverters all come with accompanying smartphone applications, which allow you to consistently monitor your energy production and consumption. If you’re trying to be self-sufficient in your energy production, paying attention to those stats is essential to future-proofing your system. You need to be able to understand how much energy you consume, how your system is performing, how you can improve its efficiency, and how your energy consumption changes from one season to the next. This knowledge can help you make any alterations needed on your solar power system to continue to meet your needs now and in the future.
Have the Right Batteries
Finally, it’s incredibly important to be aware that not all battery banks can easily connect additional batteries. This means that, if you decide your current battery bank is not meeting your energy needs, it can be very difficult to expand the bank to store more energy. For example, lead-acid batteries are typically linked in series, not in parallel, which makes it impossible to expand the number of units in your battery bank. Flooded lead-acid batteries also require significant maintenance; you’ll need to check and top off fluid levels every month to ensure they’re running properly. Plus, their depth of discharge is quite low, which means you’ll only be able to use a small portion of the batteries’ total capacity. This means you’ll need a larger battery bank to meet your needs than you might think.
By comparison, SimpliPhi storage batteries allow for easy addition of storage units by allowing batteries to be connected in parallel with existing units. It does require a bit of rewiring to add these units to the system but is not nearly as difficult or expensive as replacing or adding an entire lead-acid battery pack to your battery bank. They also require zero maintenance and have a 90% depth of discharge, allowing you to use fewer batteries when building your battery bank. Ultimately, using the right battery system is the most important element for future-proofing your off-grid solar battery bank.