Can a Home Battery Get You Completely Off-Grid?

by Anna Gretz
February 11, 2020

California's power grid hasn't been super reliable lately.

2019 wasn't a great year for power resilience, and no one knows it better than Californians. Wildfires ushered in unprecedented and unwelcome planned blackouts. A lot of California residents started to look at alternative power sources. 

Off-grid living is starting to look really good right about now.

But is it feasible? Living off-grid means generating and storing all of the energy that you and your household need to uphold your lifestyle every single day. That sounds like a tall order, especially during a time when we use power. A lot. 

But just imagine knowing exactly where your power comes from. Consider the fact that it's possible to have power security, with an entire energy generation and storage system under your own roof. It sounds amazing, right?

Is this where we start talking about solar panels?

Yes, but it's more than that. People think that owning rooftop solar is the key to energy independence, but it's not the whole story. Think about it: when are your solar panels generating the most power? Midday, when the sun is shining, and you're likely away from the house, getting stuff done. 

The arc of solar power generation is a steady, predictable rise and fall that corresponds to the rising and setting of the sun. But if you looked at a chart of the electricity usage in your home, you would see a very different image. Typical residential power usage starts with a little bump during the morning rush, and ends with a predominant peak during the evening hours... you know, the hours after the sun has gone down. 

Solar power generation and energy usage times don't match up.

Because of this, households with rooftop solar end up feeding most of their generated power back into the power grid. This can give you a reasonable financial boost, but it keeps your home dependent on the power grid. 

Energy storage changes everything.

With energy storage, you can actually get total energy security and independence. Instead of giving your solar power back to the grid, you can keep it. Home batteries store your energy, so you can use it whenever you need it. With home batteries, you can actually cut ties with the grid.


To Grid or Not To Grid

That's a good question. Is going off-grid really the best option for you? Here are a few things to consider before making the leap:


1. How important is your independence?

For some households, independence is huge. It can be an incredibly freeing feeling to know that your home is entirely energy self-sufficient. There's a certain status given to off-grid homes, and an entire community focused on reaching the independence and freedom that comes with cutting ties from the utility companies. We get it. The grid is an aging, unreliable network of vulnerable stations and wires, and a lot of people don't want to put their livelihood on the line. If this is you, consider installing a home battery. 

2. How does 100% clean energy sound?

Solar + energy storage makes it possible to live on 100% green, clean energy. Even though a lot of power companies are moving toward the incorporation of renewable energy sources (especially in California), they're not there yet. Most electrical utilities rely on dirty fossil fuel technology to meet customer demand. Even households who have rooftop solar installed have to tap into the grid to make up for the energy they can't generate in the evening hours. But you don't have to. The only way to truly use 100% clean energy is to generate and use your own. With solar panels and a home battery, that's exactly what you're doing. 

3. How remote is your area?

Utility grid customers in remote areas have to pay the price for electricity. If you live in a city center, you likely don't have any trouble getting connected. But in rural areas, getting grid connection can be a royal pain, and it can be royally expensive. Instead of dishing out extra cash to hook up to an unreliable grid, these homes can turn that cash into solar + home battery systems instead. 

Whether you're ready to take the plunge or just want more information, strike up a conversation with a Swell representative. We know it's weird, but talking about home batteries is our favorite thing. We're looking forward to showing off all our nerdy off-grid knowledge whenever you're ready.