Solar Battery Storage Blog

Learn about the advantages of solar with battery energy storage

October 28, 2019

Solar Battery Storage vs. Generators During California’s Wildfire Season

With its dense forests and arid climate, California has always had a wildfire season. But climate change has made these seasonal blazes far more severe and frequent. 

2018 was one of the deadliest years yet, with:

Just one of these blazes – the “Camp Fire Inferno” – took 85 lives.

And experts believe that 2019 will only be worse.

In anticipation, California utilities have started to adjust how, when and where they deliver electricity. On the hottest and windiest days, this means temporarily shutting down power to areas in “fire-risk zones.” Doing so is the safest course of action. But what does this mean if your home or business is in one of the affected areas without power?

How do you keep the lights on or your operations running if your utility cuts off the electricity supply?

When this happens, you really only have 2 choices:

  • Diesel generators
  • On-site solar storage

But which option is best?

Settling the Debate between Generators and Solar Batteries

Before committing to either of these energy solutions, it is important you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Let’s take a look.

The Pros and Cons of Diesel Generators

Diesel generators have long been the workhorses of the industry – providing portable, efficient power whenever and wherever it is needed. Trusted, reliable and familiar, they’re the obvious candidate at first glance.

But once you dig a little deeper, diesel generators suffer from numerous limitations – especially when deployed during the peak of California’s wildfire season.

Cost – The upfront cost of diesel generators is lower than solar energy storage. With more moving parts, generators are prone to wear and tear meaning more overall maintenance and upkeep compared to non-mechanical solar batteries.

In fact, the average diesel generator only lasts about 5 years. Contrast this with the average Lithium Iron Phosphate solar battery, which can last for 3,500 to 10,000 total recharging cycles to deliver up to 25 years of usage.

Fuel – The fuel that diesel generators use represents another significant cost – both financially and environmentally:

  • You must constantly refill the tanks with more fuel, which is prohibitively expensive 
  • Fossil fuel inputs (like diesel) pollute, which negatively impacts the environment

But stored energy is literally free when you top up your batteries with solar power. And this approach doesn’t emit any CO2 or other greenhouse gases.

Noise – Although this isn’t normally a make or break issue for most businesses, the noise and smoke from diesel generators can be quite disruptive. If you have space to locate generators far from your operations, you should be okay. Unfortunately, not every business has that kind of room to spare.

By contrast, you’ve never heard a solar battery before.

No one has.

Just as with photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar batteries run silently in the background – delivering clean and reliable electricity.

Safety – Diesel generators are built with safety in mind, complete with a range of features designed to minimize the threat of leaks, explosions and injury. But they’re built for normal use cases – not for out of control infernos.

The last thing you want is a diesel generator in a wildfire’s path.

Solar batteries don’t pose the same safety risks. They burn just like any other material – but they’re not explosive.

It gets worse.

Diesel generators also carry a host of hidden costs, including:

  • Secondary containment concerns
  • AQMD permitting and licensing
  • Annual testing and checkups

And don’t forget the time, effort and logistics required to guarantee a steady supply of more and more diesel fuel.

These issues are hard-baked into the diesel generator’s very design. And although you can mitigate some of these costs, you cannot avoid them entirely.

The Pros and Cons of Solar Batteries

Modern solar batteries don’t face any of the problems outlined above. They are self-contained energy storage systems that:

  • Require almost zero maintenance (except annual cleaning)
  • Use a free energy source with no additional costs
  • Don’t pose safety concerns, fire hazards or property damage risks
  • Run silently in the background with virtually no noise pollution
  • Don’t pollute the environment by emitting harmful contaminants

When used correctly, solar batteries provide the best possible protection from power failures during wildfire-related outages.

And it gets better.

During the days of the year when there aren’t wildfires, your solar storage solution actually saves you money by reducing your reliance on grid electricity. In fact, solar batteries are clean energy investments that eventually pay for themselves, which is something that no diesel generator has ever done.

Which Energy Solution Is Right for You?

If you live or work in California and want to save money, help the planet or simply stay in business (even during the height of wildfire season), on-site solar battery storage is your best option.

To learn how our battery solutions can help you achieve these goals, schedule a free consultation with our energy experts today.

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