Preparedness

Do You Need a Whole House Battery Bank?

As the recent newscasts show, a whole house battery bank is a necessity in any home today. One must always be prepared to drop off the grid for some time as weather and other issues are getting less predictable.

This year alone the US has experienced some of the greatest and most devastating blackouts. The situation with Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands is the worst in the country’s history in regards to the energy supply. The Hurricane Maria caused an enormous amount of damage in those areas at the end of September. 1.25 billion hours of electricity supply were stolen from the people in affected regions. The grid isn’t 100% back up even today and the estimations show it might take up to 6 months to repair fully.

In the end of October, 1.3 million people suffered from a similar problem all over New England as it’s been hit by a devastating tropical storm Philippe. As the climate continues to change, meteorologists warn that these natural disasters might become more frequent. Therefore, having a whole house battery bank has become a necessary precaution. This is a more efficient solution than a generator and there are plenty of options to fit anyone’s needs and budget.

Benefits of a Whole House Battery Bank

It makes you independent.

Having a reliable power bank in your home allows you to make sure that no matter the situation, you aren’t dependent on anything outside of your control. Your power supplier can be trustworthy and efficient, but accidents happen. Your own set of specialized batteries ensures that you can overlook those accidents without breaking your comfortable lifestyle.

It saves your money and life.

Blackouts are not only uncomfortable, they can be costly as well as extremely dangerous. Darkness in the house increases the risk of falls and injuries. If you have people who require 24/7 use of some medical equipment, their lives are completely dependent on electricity. In addition, there are less serious issues, like having your food spoiled in the fridge or freezer. A whole house battery bank keeps the most important electrical appliances in your house working no matter what.

It’s flexible.

Unlike power generators, battery banks can be easily expanded by adding more batteries. Therefore, you can make your emergency energy supply grow if your needs change or if you get some extra money.

It’s less expensive.

Again, when compared to a generator, a whole house battery bank turns out to be more efficient. It doesn’t require fuel and can turn on quickly, thus, you don’t have to leave it on standby. You can also design a system with an affordable maintenance.

It’s quiet.

Even complex and big battery banks are nearly silent compared to generators. They are also safer as there is less risk of a spark catching fire and the fuel tank blowing up.

How to Implement a Whole House Battery Bank

The setup needed to supply your house with power from a battery bank is rather simple. The basic equipment you’ll need includes:

  • Batteries
  • Cables
  • Inline fuse
  • Rack
  • Wire
  • Inverter/charger

As there are many types of batteries available, choosing can be rather hard. Remember that car batteries are unfit for this purpose as they are the ‘cranking’ type. Therefore, they can produce a powerful charge in the beginning but aren’t able to efficiently support a flow of energy afterward. Marine batteries are the better choice as they are made to both start the engine and output a steady supply of power.

When choosing a whole house battery bank, consider these battery options:

Sealed Lead-acid
It’s the cheapest option for grid-tied systems. These batteries need very little maintenance, but their lifecycle and efficiency are lower.

Flooded Lead-acid.
This is an affordable off-grid battery that can go through numerous charge-discharge-recharge cycles.

NanoCarbon.
This option is also good for off-grid power banks that can easily deal with partial charging. It’s a good option for those who have issues with the charging source.

Lithium.
The technology used in these batteries is far superior to the lead-acid models and much safer. It’s the best option for a cost-efficient whole house battery bank at the moment. Lithium batteries can be discharged to 0 and recharged with no loss of efficiency. Discharging a lead-acid battery below 50% damages it.

Nickel Iron.
This type is good for either grid-tied and off-grid systems, but it’s also the most expensive today. Batteries of this kind can work up to 20 years without losing efficiency significantly.

When designing your house battery supply scheme, don’t forget to plan for long-term blackouts. You must have an option of cutting off everything aside from the most essential appliances to maximize the energy use.

An inverter is an essential part of your emergency power supply system as it’s the device that ensures the stability of the current. To put it simply, it’s what prevents power bursts from frying microcomputers that operate the majority of expensive appliances. Without this device, charging your smartphone, laptop, or using any smart tech is a risk to the gadget.

To calculate the number of batteries you need, study the manuals of all devices you want to power and calculate the necessary ‘size’ of your whole house battery bank. Don’t forget about lights and consider the average length of a power outage in your area.

Integrating Your Battery Bank with House Wiring

Integrating a whole house battery bank into your house wiring is a complicated process, no matter which system you choose. Some of the more advanced batteries of today, like Orison, can be set up by homeowners themselves. However, it’s best to hire a licensed electrician to make sure everything is perfect.

The professional will set up all the necessary circuit breakers and outlets (don’t forget to mark them). They will also test the system to ensure it works smoothly.

Any power system is a fire hazard, so hiring an electrician to at least check it up is essential. Note that the warranty on some batteries will become invalid if they aren’t installed by accredited professionals.

How Much Does a Whole House Battery Bank Cost?

The costs of a battery bank wary greatly. On average, you can get a reliable system for anything between under $800 and $20,000+. Aside from the batteries themselves, factors that affect the cost are:

  • Number of batteries
  • Size and complexity of the system
  • Cost of replacement components (for the future)
  • Cost of maintenance

The latest Tesla Powerwall is the most advanced option among whole house battery banks available today and it costs $5,500 apiece (+$700 on supporting hardware). Note that some houses will need more than one Powerwall to keep them running in a blackout. Also, bear in mind the cost of the

solar panel setup, if you are planning to use it in order to gather power for your batteries.

If you are going for the cheapest and simplest possible option, you should be able to set it up for about $600-$800. It’ll consist of car or marine batteries set up to power up a few outlets within the house.

Whole House Battery Bank: Final Thoughts

The main reason why one should install a battery bank within their home is the peace of mind it gives. With this setup, you can be sure that you and your family won’t be completely cut off from power even in an emergency case.

This particular type of power system is as safe as one can get and there’s a wide range of options available. Everyone can find something to fit their needs and budget. This system will also go extremely well with a solar setup to make you even more independent.

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