For one homeowner in rural New York, winters plagued with unreliable grid power inspired the search for alternative energy solutions. The result is a small solar farm situated on the property, yet hidden from view, that feeds into a power storage system composed of 48 lithium ion batteries, allowing the home to run on solar power, battery, grid electricity, or via generator depending on the weather and power requirements. This award-winning, fully-automated smart home features a SimpliPhi Power battery system installed by Lotus Energy that exceeds the maximum power generation the system was designed to garner.
The initial push toward a home battery system was inspired by the region’s harsh winters, which often yield power outages that can last for several days or even weeks. Being caught without electricity in the midst of winter’s deep freeze isn’t something the homeowners wanted to worry about. Although they did incorporate a back-up generator into the home’s overall energy plan, it’s intended to be used as a last-ditch resource should all other systems fail. The primary objective is to produce electricity from the home’s small-scale solar farm on the property and store it onsite in efficient battery system.
When it comes to home power storage systems, Tesla’s Powerwall is probably the most recognizable name, given the amount of press the long-awaited home battery won this year. That is, after all, the product that prompted people to refer to its maker as “a battery company” instead of an automaker. The homeowner, Bob Schluter, evaluated the Tesla Powerwall system before choosing the SimpliPhi batteries for his home and decided against Powerwalls because the number required would have taken up much more space than Schluter wanted to allocate to the home’s energy system. “I wanted an energy storage solution in a compact location. That’s why I went with SimpliPhi’s lithium-ion technology. Flooded cell batteries or other lithium-ion batteries would have required significantly more space and new construction to attain the same energy output,” Schluter said.
Another key benefit of the SimpliPhi power system is that it is immediately available for installation. Although Tesla’s Powerwall systems are currently being installed for some customers, new orders won’t be filled until mid-2016. The SimpliPhi solar+storage system is installed and running and it’s capable of producing and storing 163 kilowatt hours of renewable energy. Schluter’s home is designed to switch seamlessly between solar, the batteries, the grid, and the backup generator, if needed, to ensure zero interruption of power to the home. With this setup, the home actually produces 23 percent more energy than estimated, allowing the homeowners to keep the battery system fully charged and sell excess electricity back to the local utility company.