Concise solar storage solution shows savings estimated as high as 80 per cent.
A denizen of cottage country, architect Jiri Skopek is well acquainted with electricity blackouts. “We notice them more frequently,” he says. A typical power failure lasts a couple of hours. “But when you have a bad storm it could easily be one or two days,” says Skopek, who once went without electricity for three days at his Muskoka cottage.
Those days of darkness are over for Jiri and his wife, Simone. They equipped their new three-bedroom cottage on Clear Lake with a solar energy storage system by Panasonic Eco Solutions Canada. It consists of an array of solar panels, an inverter to convert energy to AC power and a lithium-ion battery that stores electricity.
Lower Hydro Bills
Not only does this system power the cottage when the electrical grid fails, it cuts energy costs. “They’re able to control their electricity consumption,” says Panasonic marketing manager Anna Lu. “By having a battery backup they’re able to store their electricity generated by the sun and use it during peak electricity periods to do some peak shaving, giving you control over how and when to use electricty.” When they have more solar electricity than they need, Ontario’s net metering program allows them feed their clean, renewable power to the electrical grid for credits that reduce their utility bill.
Peace of Mind
Now during power blackouts, Jiri and Simone, who both depend on the internet to run their business, can keep essential equipment running. “This allows us to just carry on,” he says. Their battery powers the lighting, internet, refrigerator, water and sewage pumps. “Apart from cooking, which we can do on a small gas stove in case of emergency, we are totally self-sufficient in times of power outage.” Compact and tidy, the storage battery and inverter, built by Tabuchi Electric, can fit in a four-by-four-foot closet. A monitor shows how much electricity the solar panels generate, how much the home consumes, how much power is stored and the quantity being sent to the grid.
The cost a solar energy and storage system depends on the needs and goals of the home or cottage owner. The average cost of a 10-kilowatt system is about $35,000, Lu estimates. With the net metering program and storage battery equipment, the system would pay for itself in 10 to 13 years, Lu says. The size of the system, and production, will determine the payback period. At the Skopek cottage a recent year-over-year analysis showed a 44 per cent savings in out-of-pocket costs for electricity.
“Our payment system is also unique,” says Lu. “Panasonic takes 10 per cent up front, upon the signing of the proposal and you actually don’t have to pay for 90 per cent of the system until it’s completely functioning and generating electricity. I’m pretty sure we’re the only ones that can do that,” Lu says. Panasonic can also arrange financing.
Panasonic has been working with lithium-ion batteries, the same technology that powers smart phones, laptops, tablets and cameras, since 1984. It’s the first company to offer a concise solar storage solution for the home, says Skopek, who is no stranger to solar power – he helped build England’s first solar home in 1973. “Panasonic were really pioneers in solar storage systems for a consumer market,” he says. Panasonic has installed more than 400 solar energy storage systems, including 40 homes in the Oshawa area, where savings have been estimated as high as 80 per cent. “Panasonic has been installing energy storage systems since 2015 and have tested them thoroughly. When it comes to solar and energy storage, I’m confident we are the most experienced once in this market.” Lu says.
Before installing a system, Panasonic’s team will speak with homeowners to understand what they’re trying to achieve. It will design a system and provide a proposal outlining the costs and associated numbers. “Once you sign up, we handle everything from measuring your roof, designing your system, any applications to do with the province, but also any building permits required to do the work. Everything is taken care of by our in-house team, from end to end,” she says.
A benign, plentiful and resilient energy source, solar power is beginning to get cheaper than conventional power, Skopek says. Although the solar panels on the Skopek cottage roof don’t generate electricity when covered in winter snow, they produce ample power in the summer, enough that the couple could cut themselves off the grid completely in the summer. “I’m thinking about it,” he says.