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10.  Batteries         

Estimate the amount of your pollution.

 OUR EXPERIENCE 

A few years ago, my wife and I bought two Goal Zero Yeti 3000 batteries.  Each Yeti 3000 provides about 3,000 Wh of electrical “storage”, and costs around $3,500. 

We chose the Yeti batteries because they’re portable, there’s no installation needed (just roll them out of the box and plug them in) and they provide electricity in case of a blackout.

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Even though we only wanted essential back-up, air conditioners (for a heat wave) and sump pumps

(for low-level flooding) require a big surge of electricity when they start up, so we got two batteries -

to supplement our five solar panels.

Please note:  you won't be able to acess your solar electricity during a blackout (see next segment) unless you install a type of inverter to (temporarily) break your connection to the grid system.

SMA for grid disconnect

 SOLAR PANELS PLUS BATTERY BACK-UP 

Grid-tied [rooftop solar] systems must be shut off during a blackout, but an inverter from SMA will allow electricity to flow from the panels AFTER being disconnected from the grid.

Here's how it works: when the electrical grid goes down,

we flip a handle, push a button (see photo), and plug in our priority stuff...if the sun is up. 

At night, we use the Yeti batteries to get electricity.  We can also plug small items into the car to access the EV battery.

The next day the sun comes up and we recharge the batteries with the solar energy.​..unless it's raining!  

In case of rain, we have to re-calibrate how much electricity we use.  So far, when we've had brief blackouts,

it's all worked like it should.

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When we tested one of the Yeti batteries, it kept the fridge/freezer going for 48 hours.  In case of a longer blackout, we’ll have to ration electricity, but at least we'll have some. 

During the 1989 World Series earthquake, our electricity was out for a couple of days.

     “Will batteries keep your [air conditioner] cranking and electric vehicle charged up

       during an extended  blackout?   Probably not.” 

     "Typical battery backup systems work best when they...

       ration battery capacity and minimize the use of major appliances."

 BATTERY SHOPPING OPTIONS 

There's a 30% federal tax credit with energy storage (battery) purchases.  For more on rebates, go here.

“Comparing solar batteries can be challenging.” 

For a battery system with no cobalt or nickel (see below) but which requires professional installation, look at: Enphase IQ Battery, sonnen eco, Electriq Power PowerPod 2, or SunPower SunVault. 

For comparisons and recommendations, see this article from energysage.

For portable batteries (no installation needed):

there’s big: from SimpliPhi - $13.2k, and small: from Xantrex - $650

battery enviro/ethical

 ETHICAL / ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS 

Some mines are bad, and some are worse;  the IRMA organization audits mines worldwide.  Those two Yeti batteries I purchased contain nickel and cobalt.  These days I recommend getting a no-nickel, no-cobalt, "LFP" (see further below) battery. 

Mining consequences include:

Nickel mining problems:  The nickel mining town of Norilsk in Russia is "one of the most polluted places on Earth." "Companies...[leave] rivers...fields and watersheds stained red."

Cobalt mining problems:  "Caught in a familiar cycle of exploitation, greed and gamesmanship..."

Lithium has fewer such problems:  but “as with any resource extraction, there are environmental consequences." 

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 BATTERY BASICS 

Nickel/Manganese/Cobalt (NMC)  vs.  Lithium/F(iron)/Phosphate (LFP):

“Many…[battery] suppliers use LFP.”   LFP batteries can be charged in half the time as NMC.”  

Contractors say:  "The lithium ion battery...is ideal for home installations."  

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 BATTERY RECYCLING  may hold promise:

“Millions of EV’s batteries need an end of life solution.”

 Recycling research is underway.

How to Recycle Single-Use Batteries.”

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