For solar adopters seeking the greatest return on their investment in energy capture and storage technology, self-consumption is the way to go. Made possible by the greater efficiency of today’s solar-plus-storage systems, self-consumption is the ability to store energy created at peak times (usually mid-afternoon) and then draw from it to power a home or building during off-peak hours (late in the evening and overnight). This process, known as peak-shaving, allows building owners to avoid expensive demand charges and time-of-use rates.
The solar status quo for many years has been grid-tied solar systems, in which consumers remain “tied” to their utility company’s electric grid. As long as power is flowing to the grid, consumers are able to pull from it when needed. But, this leaves them at the mercy of their utility’s pricing structure. And as utilities increasingly adopt time-of-use rates, increase demand charges, and cut their payments to solar owners who feed power back into the grid, some consumers are limiting their utility costs with self-sufficient solar energy systems and self-consumption.
Benefits of Self-Consumption
There are different methods of self-consumption, some of which still involve a connection to the grid in the case of insufficient solar power production. In these cases, power is only drawn from the grid when absolutely necessary, greatly reducing utility costs. In other configurations, solar investors can choose to self-consume the power they need while exporting excess power back to the grid or store excess power in battery storage to meet their home or building’s energy needs when needed.
Power inverters designed for self-consumption allow solar adopters to manage the flow of energy according to their desires for self-consumption. Smart inverters are able to send and receive information from a building’s solar system as well as to and from the utility grid, reducing costs, improving energy security, and strengthening power infrastructure.
Demand management, or “load shifting” capabilities ensure that a building is using available energy in the smartest possible way. This includes prioritizing the operation of essential systems, like lighting, cooking, and food preservation, and shifting the use of non-essential energy needs, like washers and dryers, electric vehicle charging, and water heating, to times when there is less demand.
Through this smart technology, home and building owners are better equipped than ever before to self-consume the vast majority of the power they produce and get the most out of their investment in solar power.
Along with smart inverters and demand management systems, there are other ways to supercharge a building’s self-consumption capabilities. These tips from PV Europe are a great place to start. For solar investors who want to receive the greatest return on their investment, they recommend LED lighting, electric water heaters, and thermal heat pumps, among others. Electric appliances, from stoves to lawn mowers and other smaller tools, can all be powered by solar energy in order to maximize self-consumption.
At Solar Design Studio, our Everything Solar strategy allows our clients access to a vast variety of solar-connected products so that together we can design a holistic system that meets power needs, minimizes costs, and provides the greatest possible ROI. By focusing on comprehensive solar technology solutions, we demystify concepts such as the Smart Home and the Internet of Things (IOT), making them more accessible and understandable to solar consumers like you.
Our solar consultants and expert solar design professionals have the experience and knowledge to assist residential, commercial, and industrial clients in achieving their solar goals. If you’re interested in maximizing your solar investment through self-consumption, contact us today!