The first question people ask about powering their home with solar energy, is what happens when the sun isn’t shining? Actually, it’s a non-question, because your home will still always be connected to the commercial grid. So, you’ll never be without power; or so we’d like to think. But what happens when there’s a major outage and the grid is down? Can one then rely on solar power alone to keep the home fully functional? That’s where your EV battery could step in!

Obviously, when sunlight isn’t hitting the PV panels up on your roof, no power is being generated. But, on good sunny days, your system will be producing far in excess of your daily requirements. That extra power can be channeled into backup batteries that can be called on in an emergency. The problem is that stationary battery backup, while extremely useful, is still not the cutting-edge solution. The good news though, is that there is a very exciting and welcome new kid on the block!

Enter the EV battery

EV battery

Electric vehicles with high capacity rechargeable batteries

Electric vehicles (EVs) are basically powerful mobile batteries. With them, we can remain happily on the road even when the pumps are running dry. With the motor vehicle industry seeing the EV as the future, more and more of these vehicles are appearing. A drive down the block is ready testimony to this.

The great thing is, that the energy stored in those powerful batteries, it’s available for more than just powering your car. With something known as vehicle-to-home (V2H) technology installed, your EV is a powerful source of energy you can bank on. Let’s picture a possible scenario:

A heavy winter storm has brought down the commercial grid, and it seems that it may take days to recover. The house is getting colder, your phones are running down, and you have no internet connectivity. To stop the food in your refrigerator from spoiling you have put it out in the garage. It’s an experience that none of us want to go through, but it can, and does, hit out of the blue.

If you have a renewable energy solar system installed, you are certainly better off than your not-so-lucky neighbors, but what about the long, cold dark night hours? The house is in darkness, the TV is off, your laptop battery is running low and so is your phone. And it’s getting colder by the hour.

With the possibility of feeding energy back into your home from your car, you could have the answer to these woes. Could electric vehicles power your furnace, refrigerator and more during blackouts? Maybe not yet, but they are getting there.

The new EV battery technology at present

Many electric car batteries can hold around 60 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy. This would be enough to provide power for an average U.S. household for maybe two days. Thus, if your system was enabled with vehicle-to-home technology, you could certainly keep the lights, and a lot more, on during blackouts.

With more EVs on the road, and the technology in place, we could have all these mobile batteries available to help keep the power on in emergencies.

Keeping the power on when the grid goes down

Good solar energy installation companies offer stationary battery backup as an excellent add-on to your system. The advantage is at night, when solar energy is not available, and the grid goes down. In emergencies such as these, you will still have power. Your lights will still be on when neighbors are in the dark.

While these solar home backup battery systems are great, they have limitations. But there is now a great new solution. Your EV battery can step in and save the day (or night!).

When the grid goes down for days on end

power outage

Waiting for the power to come back on

Take as an example the massive recent power outages in Texas. A Solar PV installation with battery backup would have been an unbelievable boon. But even more could be done utilizing the EV battery in your car.

For many hours of the day EV’s are stationery outside the home or the office. Transferring power practically back from car to building was up till recently only a dream. Now it is a reality with the technology that has become available. Also, since electric vehicles do not produce exhaust, they can even be safely operated indoors.

How EV battery backup works

EV batteries are generally much bigger than the solar installation backup systems. Many EVs on the market today contain battery packs with capacities ranging from around 40 to 65 kilowatt-hours.

Tesla EV battery packs are even more powerful, with some models generating 100 kilowatt-hours.

Take, for example the Nissan all-electric Leaf with a 62-kilowatt-hour battery. This unit is said to have enough energy to be able to power an average Japanese home for around four days. Nissan’s electric vehicle plants are now increasingly turning out multi-gigawatt hours of battery capacity.

In 2019, Nissan supplied tens of its Leaf vehicles to power community centers following grid outages caused by Typhoon Faxai. Practical EV to building sharing can play a vital role in similar emergencies everywhere. This technology is now becoming available in many countries.

The emerging V2H technology

While the concept is clear and exciting, actually transferring power back from an EV battery to your home is not quite that simple. Firstly, many EV’s do not always come with bi-directional charging capacity built in. It’s not simply a question of running a lead from your car battery to your house!

In addition, getting energy directly from your rooftop solar panels to both your home and your EV battery is not that straightforward either. They need to be able to supply alternating current (AC) for the home as well as direct current (DC) to your car.

Fortunately, there are a number of high-tech start-ups that have excellent solutions. The r16 is one that streamlines the whole process seamlessly.

The Dcbel home energy station

The Dcbel unit is a box that sits on the wall in your garage and connects your car to the house. It is compatible with any electric vehicle with a CHAdeMO DC fast-charging port. No further onboard software from the vehicle is needed to operate the system.

The r16 has an impressive number of features:

  • Solar Energy Conversion
  • Backup Power
  • Bidirectional EV Supercharging
  • Smart Home Energy Management

It’s a bi-directional EV charger, meaning if the electricity is out in your area, the Dcbel can draw power from your electric vehicle to power your home. It can also directly charge your EV using solar energy.

  • Can produce solar power during a blackout
  • Has a backup power reserve of 76 hours.
  • Dual EV charger
  • EV charging speed of 1 mile per minute

The r16 unit will manage your solar panel arrays during the day. It is even smart enough to charge your EV and backup battery overnight when electricity prices are lower.

Because it draws DC current directly from solar panels, it can technically provide much faster-charging speeds than conventional chargers. Skipping the need for AC/DC conversion means a massive upgrade in terms of speed and efficiency.

Energy management

Dcbel also ties into the commercial grid supply feeding your home. As a result, it can manage real-time information about your household’s energy usage. As a consequence, it can optimize power flow. Take Texas for example. The state grid offers real-time energy pricing directly to consumers, but how many are really monitoring it in real time? Dcbel steps in and does it for you. It constantly tracks the price of grid supply, and only charges your EV’s batteries during cheaper off-peak hours.

Because dcbel is connected and runs applications, it can make adjustments on its own, or it can alert users when prices and usage get particularly high via SMS. The result could be a substantial saving in your utility bills.

Once more cars come capable with bidirectional charging, their massive batteries will be able to act as backup generators. This could be vital during emergencies. It could likewise supplement a home’s energy usage when pulling from the grid would be particularly expensive.

What the future holds for EV battery backup

Right now, there are only a few EVs on the market that support this kind of power distribution, including the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi Outlander. But, according to  Dcbel founder Marc-Andre Forget, however, that’s more of a software problem than anything else. He says: “Most EVs on the market are already compatible with bidirectional charging using the DC circuitry of the car. The missing piece right now is more of a digital communication problem.”

As more cars come on stream, their massive batteries will be available to act as backup generators. The future for them looks bright and assured.

Where and when the EV concept originated

The development of electric vehicles is today at the center of nearly every major manufacturer’s plans. In all likelihood, this decade is set to see the EV battery car dominate the motor industry.

Interestingly, though, the concept has been around for a long time, and is not a new development. In fact, electrical cars have been around as long as their internal combustion counterparts. Their history goes back as far as the middle of the 19th century.

The history books show that In 1828 already, an Hungarian inventor produced a primitive miniature electric car. A later Scottish inventor succeeded in producing a very basic electric carriage during the 1830’s. These vehicles and other similar ones were powered by non-rechargeable electric cells.

The earliest practical EV battery vehicle

With the invention of the rechargeable lead-acid battery in 1859, the stage was truly set for the appearance of the EV battery car.

English inventor Thomas Parker is credited as being the pioneer of electric transportation. He innovated the electrification of public transport in the London Underground and overhead trams. The first production electric car was at the Elwell-Parker Company, a manufacturer of electric trams. Already by the end of the 19th century, electric cars were appearing on British roads.

The earliest electric cars in the U.S.A.

In 1891 William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa developed an electric vehicle that could transport six people at around 14 miles per hour. But it took time before the invention attracted popular interest.

By the end of the century, however, electric powered taxi cabs began to appear in London, England. These were soon popular in the US and many now plied the streets of New York city.

Early competition with gasoline powered vehicles

Because EV’s were quieter and odorless compared to their gasoline driven competitors, they were originally a popular choice. Another major advantage was that they were quicker to start, than the hand-cranked gasoline car.

The main disadvantages of the early electric vehicles

Because EV battery vehicles had a much more limited range, they were generally only popular for shorter in-town travel. Secondly, because fewer homes in those days were electrified, it was difficult to recharge the batteries. With the rapid electrification of homes in the early 20th century, this became less of a problem, and interest surged. Amazingly, there were more electric vehicles in the United States than gasoline cars in the first decade of that century. The number of firms manufacturing them initially proliferated, but this did not last, with the gasoline automobile ultimately taking over the market. In the last decades of the century, however, a dramatic change took place as we shall see.

EV battery vehicles and the environment

In the 1990’s car manufacturers once again began to look to EV’s largely in response to tightening environmental laws. The first big push by a key player was in 1996, when General Motors released its EV1 electric car. Unfortunately, this car did not live up to promise, and was discontinued.

However, since then, EV’s have become mainstream and are now at the forefront of the industry. This really got off the ground with the production of hybrid vehicles and major new technological developments. Increasing world-wide concern about the environment has seen a major surge in production of EV battery vehicles around the globe. The trend has doubtless established them as the car of the future.

The US Utility Sector is experiencing massive power demands due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Disruptions could occur at any time.

With a properly installed Solar power supply:

  • Your electricity feed will remain secure
  • If the power goes down, you won’t be left in the dark
  • All essential appliances will continue to work
  • Wi-fi and internet connections will remain operational
  • You will be unaffected by the inevitable increases in utility costs
  • Remain safe and secure while continuing to work from home

Play a role in benefiting the environment by switching to economical, clean and renewable Solar power for your home or business. Get a no-obligation free estimate today!
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