Designing a “storage-ready” solar panel system is the first step to ensuring that you’re set up for success when you decide to move forward with a solar battery for your home or business. EnergySage spoke with Chip Means, Director of Marketing at Pika Energy, for his perspective on storage-ready solar.
What is the value proposition for a “storage-ready” solar product for residential customers?
We see the value of storage-ready solar as being the difference between buying what you need today versus ensuring stability and flexibility for what you might need tomorrow. Your load profile for your home will change as you add devices such as air source heat pumps and EV charging, and along with those changes, grid-provided energy is likely to change in cost as well. We see increasing cases for solar-connected storage where Time of Use billing is taking effect, or where net metering benefits are on a declining schedule. In addition to offering a backup power resource, storage-ready solar ensures a residential customer has a clean, simple path to upgrading their system with a smart battery should the need arise.
Who should consider installing a storage-ready solar option now?
Anyone who wants clean backup power or is working with scenarios like Time of Use billing or residential storage incentives is a great candidate for adding a battery today. Furthermore, adding a battery appeals to residential customers who want to self-consume more of their solar-generated power directly. Having a battery “behind the meter” reduces transacting with the fossil utility grid, maximizing the homeowner’s direct use of clean power.
Commercial entities that are billed for peaking demand periods are also looking at adding batteries with solar to shave peaks are among the present buyers for solar-plus-storage.
What criteria do you recommend shoppers look for when considering their storage-ready options?
Take a long look at the differences in power capacity you get from the batteries that are available to you. The amount of available power when the system is islanding (performing without a grid connection) is a major factor in the buyer’s satisfaction with the system’s performance; it can be the difference between whether or not you have a well pump running when the grid fails.
Also ensure you get a system that offers scalability — as your home’s electrical loads change over time and the price of lithium ion batteries continues to fall, you may find yourself wanting to upgrade your energy storage capacity down the line.
How is Pika Energy’s storage-ready offering different from other options on the market?
The Pika Energy Island is designed with three key principles in mind:
- Simple installation
- Scalability & flexibility
- More power and efficiency
We made the Energy Island simple to install by eliminating the autotransformer that other systems require for islanding performance and by building the automatic transfer switching into the inverter, so it seamlessly disconnects from the grid and powers the home’s protected loads instantaneously and automatically.
We made the system flexible and scalable by building a DC combiner box into the inverter itself, so you can connect any combination of solar and batteries on the combiner (e.g. with a single Pika Islanding Inverter, you can use 10kW of solar and up to 30kWh of batteries, or 7.5kW of solar and 45kWh of batteries, etc.)
We delivery more power than other options on the market because the Energy Island system is transformerless and can surge at up to 10kW of AC power. We deliver higher efficiency because the Harbor Smart Battery™, which we co-developed with Panasonic Eco Solutions, is DC-coupled to the Energy Island system for exceptionally high conversion efficiency, whereas other systems on the market are often AC-coupled, meaning they require two inverters and incur more efficiency losses.
What types of storage options (e.g. battery systems) are compatible with your offering?
We offer three compatible battery options as of August 2017.
The Harbor Smart Battery™ is available in two sizes, 10kWh and 15kWh of usable energy. The third option is Coral™, our deep-cycle backup battery solution using conventional AGM batteries. These options are all UL-listed and available to order, and all are directly DC-coupled to the Energy Island system.