The Basics of a Household Power System

The Basics of a Household Power System

The electricity flowing to your plug outlets and light switches is a result of organized electron movement. This is alternating current, which changes direction 60 times a second.

Electricity comes to your home through power lines running down the street. The voltage at this point is too high to go directly into neighborhoods, so the energy goes through power transformers before reaching your house.

Whole-Home Battery Storage Systems

As many Californians learned during the recent utility-imposed blackouts, backup power systems can be a great way to ensure household comfort and safety during extended periods without grid electricity. Whole-home battery backup systems offer more than just peace of mind; they can also help reduce energy costs and carbon footprints. And with the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) currently in effect for solar + battery storage through 2023, homeowners can save $10 – $30K in electricity costs over the lifetime of their system.

Depending on how much you use, a single whole-home battery backup system may be able to provide enough power to keep your refrigerator and freezer cool for up to 24 hours during a blackout. But larger appliances such as air conditioning, 240-volt EV chargers and electric stoves require more than 30 kWh to run continuously for a day.

That’s why it’s important to assess your home’s energy needs before selecting a battery backup system size. It’s also critical to understand that battery storage capacity and power output capacity are not the same thing. While the energy stored in a battery is measured in watt-hours or kilowatt-hours, an inverter or all-in-one battery backup solution such as EcoFlow’s portable power stations convert the battery’s DC electricity into AC household power to run appliances. Energy management software helps you decide when to charge and discharge your home’s electricity based on real-time data, helping you optimize your energy storage system performance and reduce electricity bills.

Partial-Load Battery Storage Systems

In a partial-load battery storage system, energy stored in batteries is used when solar panels cannot meet the household’s power needs. This is typically because it’s after sundown, cloudy or during a grid outage. These systems do not provide backup power, as they’re only able to support the appliances downstream of their backup gateway (for example, a home’s lights, fridge and other electric loads).

Like all energy storage solutions, these systems capture electricity from the power grid or from renewable sources, store it as current and then release it Household Power System at a later time. By doing so, they help stabilize energy flow and increase power quality to make up for dips and peaks in supply and demand that occur during normal grid operations.

Most solar customers choose to pair their PV systems with battery storage because it can help them save money on their utility bills, both by reducing the amount of energy they pull from the grid at time-of-use rates and by protecting against PG&E’s increasing frequency of blackouts during fire season. However, for many of these same customers, deciphering the different ways that their hardware can be configured and operated is a daunting task. This blog series helps demystify battery storage for residential customers by exploring some of the ways in which this technology can be used and some of the hardware requirements that may be needed to operate it.

Backup Power Systems

In general, backup power systems provide instantaneous, uninterruptible energy to support critical processes and operations during outages. Depending on the type of equipment, these can range from systems that will power devices for 30 to 60 minutes (such as telecommunications systems and computer systems) to systems designed to protect life safety and vital operations (like hospital equipment).

Onsite backup power is becoming an important investment for many businesses and large facilities. For example, companies that rely on data and IT systems may experience significant economic losses during outages. Some facilities, like hospitals, have a higher level of impact on society during a disaster, and they must ensure that life safety equipment is operational in the event of an emergency. Onsite backup power systems are an ideal solution to mitigate the risks of these situations.

For homeowners, whole-home battery backup systems are available that will automatically engage Household Power System when the grid fails and power the house for up to 96 hours. Generac’s PWRcell system, for instance, integrates solar and smart battery storage in a single unit and uses an automatic transfer switch to seamlessly disconnect from the grid during an outage.

The United States’ aging grid is frequently tested by events such as hurricanes and cold weather that can cause power outages. These outages have increased in frequency and duration over the past decade.

Smart Meters

One of the most basic parts of any household power system is the meter itself. For generations, electro-mechanical meters with tiny spinning dials stood outside homes, allowing a utility worker to read them each month and note how much electricity was consumed. Today, that work has been replaced by smart meters, which allow a home’s energy use to be automatically sent to the utility via wireless technology.

Using the same technology that powers the internet, smart meters can also send that information to a monitor in a home or an energy management system, providing households with greater control over their energy use. That monitor, often referred to as an in-home display (IHD), shows households their usage in near real time, helping them save money and reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change.

Smart meters can also connect to smart appliances such as electric vehicles and heating systems, helping them access pricing data so they are charged at lower rates and have less impact on our aging grid. The technology behind these devices may vary from country to country, including Wi-Fi, power line communication or a hub that interfaces one or more meters with the head-end network using a variety of technologies.

Though smart meters are increasingly common, many states and territories have varying policies on their rollouts. That’s why it’s important to check if your supplier has them and, if not, make sure you can switch without losing any smart functions.

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