Powering the 21st Century


Predicting the coming year is next to impossible. But some predictions of the coming decade and century are easy, obvious, and 99% likely to come true.

I’m enjoying an early view into one of those: battery-backed solar.

It is dim, drizzly, and chilly in Seattle, the opposite weather of every image you’ve ever seen for solar power. We will literally get less than six hours of daylight until February. Meanwhile, when the power company’s power went out today my internet stayed up, my dishwasher continued to run, and all the lights worked just fine (and yes, it is so dim most days we need lights on all day to see).

The solar on the roof was producing just 400 watts, but we switched all the lighting to LEDs years ago, so the house was only using 100 watts.

The app on the right is from Tesla, showing the excess power flowing into my home’s new Tesla Powerwall.

With that we stopped worrying about the food rotting in a warming refrigerator or defrosting in the freezer, as now we have days of backup power.

We have days of power for everything but hot water and central heat, but once we get past the darkest time of the year, the rooftop solar will produce kilowatts of power again, keeping the battery fully topped up and turning days of backup power into weeks or months.

Come Spring, we’ll return to exported power off our roof, greening the local electricity grid.

All this sounds a bit futuristic. It’s not. It’s all now off-the-shelf products that work without anyone knowing how they work. There are switches to switch when the power goes off. No buttons to push to restore the grid. The lights don’t even blink when there is a power outage. And they shouldn’t as nothing significant changes.

Welcome to the future.

By "Luni"


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