We’re in the middle of winter — and there’s some serious precipitation. It’s snowing in much of the country, and California is finally getting a lot of rain. Although these storms are good for replenishing our water supplies, wind, rain and snow are the biggest causes of power failures.

Our society has become almost totally dependent on electricity — not only for such necessities of 21st century life as cellphones, TVs and WiFi, but also for former necessities such as heat and hot water. Pilot lights in natural gas equipment are a thing of the past: most new furnaces, water heaters and stoves need electricity to operate. We can’t even depend on functioning fireplaces anymore; some new construction codes prohibit wood-burning fireplaces.

Understandably, people are even more interested in backup power these days — and many people expect that rooftop solar can provide usable power when the grid is down. For safety reasons, almost all solar power systems need reference power from the grid to operate. So from a practical standpoint there are only two options for home or business backup power: a generator, or a solar system with a battery backup powered inverter.

There’s no doubt in my mind that eventually almost every solar system will be equipped with battery storage. We are just beginning to see the first solar and battery storage systems that have done a reasonable job integrating cost effective hardware with functional software in a turnkey system. On this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World, we’ll talk about the pluses and minuses of these new battery backup power systems, as well as old-fashioned fossil fuel generators.

About the Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

This podcast was originally produced by Cinnamon Solar and was presented here with permission.

Lead image credit: Patrick Breitenbach | Flickr