Hurricane Irma came through Florida the weekend before September 11, 2017 and did massive damage throughout the state. It lost its tropical characteristics after 11 days and traveling 4,000 miles. Half of Palm Beach County, 500,000 people are without power.
I am running completely on my photovoltaic system and have been for two days now. This is the first extended operation of my system in emergency mode and it has been interesting. We, my step-daughter and her husband, sheltered in place. We lost power at about 3:30 in the afternoon on the day the storm went up the west coast of Florida. The system switched to battery backup which carried us into the next morning until about 3:30 am.
When the sun came up the next morning, the charge controllers directed all of the energy from the solar panels to the battery bank. We had no power in the house while that was taking place. That was because we lost power in the afternoon and it was cloudy and stormy. Also, we didn’t have a good idea of how to manage our consumption. My children have returned to their home so I will be consuming much less tonight. It will be interesting to see how things perform. With careful management my house is powered for about 12 hours on the battery backup.
So, what can I run on emergency power from the solar panels and/or the battery backup? Pretty much everything in the house except for air conditioning. With the tight envelope this house has, impact glass windows with low-e reflective glass and good insulation in the attic, the house stays around 80 – 83 in the day and cools down at night. It’s quite comfortable sitting under a ceiling fan. I am definitely not uncomfortable or suffering. This, after all, is what we designed and implemented the system for. It is basically functioning as a generator would, but with no noise or fuel. Additionally, it runs every day all year long, generating power. It will eventually pay for itself while a generator never would.