The basic solar system includes solar panels, an inverter, racking, and a monitoring system. The panels generate electricity that the inverter converts to a form that your home or business uses. When your system produces more energy than you can use it goes back to the utility and is stored as a credit that you use when the solar system is not producing all of the energy you need (winter). This process is called net-metering.
A battery storage system saves your solar energy to be used at a later time. The more batteries you have the more capacity to store energy. When your battery is full your excess solar energy will go back to the utility, and when your battery is low the grid will supply your energy need and even charge your battery if necessary.
DC and AC Coupling
Pros and Cons
Batteries store only DC power and solar panels only generate DC power, so in DC coupling the solar charges the batteries directly through a charge controller. The controller then connects to one inverter to convert the DC to usable AC power for your home or business.
DC coupled systems are more efficient since they only use one inverter, and are generally more economical to install. However, retrofitting with a DC coupled system can be cost prohibitive and matching voltages between the solar panels and the controller can also require additional components. Storage capacity is not scalable.
AC coupling requires at least two inverters. Both the solar panels and the inverters are each connected to AC to DC inverters. Before getting to the home or business the energy may be inverted as many as three times before being used.
Obviously, this amount of inversions amounts in a loss of efficiency. AC coupling also presents the challenge of tying together equipment from different manufacturers. But, AC coupling is good for retrofitting existing solar systems with energy storage.
The Pika Energy Island
A Smart Battery
The Pika Energy Island is a revolutionary product. It has at its heart the Pika Islanding Inverter which connects to both the batteries and the solar panels. The PV link optimizes the solar array, while reducing the amount of hardware traditional optimized systems use.
With the Pika solution you have one vendor and one inverter, which is battery ready. Additionally, the capacity of energy storage is scalable. You can cost effectively increase your solar system and energy storage capacity at any time.
The Pika Energy Island
The Pika Energy System is the only truly cost effective scalable solar and energy storage solution available. Perhaps you are building a new home or plan to scale up your business, the Pika system provides that flexibility cost-effectively.
Essentials (3 batteries): critical loads in home (well pump, refrigerator, lights, etc.) or business (security system, fire suppression equipment, computers).
Essentials + (4 batteries): critical loads plus ceiling fans, microwave, additional refrigerator, etc.
Comfort (5 batteries): Essentials + and space heater(s), window AC, etc.
Comfort + (6 batteries): Normally whole house / small business.
Load calculations must be done to determine exact battery capacity needs.
Tom and Mary Dunne
“We always had two objectives: A fully automatic system that would route energy where needed without human involvement and a way to store solar energy for use during a power outage, avoiding the need for a noisy generator,” Tom said.
“Just four days after installation, the power went out for about two hours,” Tom said. “We were sitting having dinner. We did not know for a few moments that the grid was down and the battery was working – no flicker, nothing. It was pretty cool that it took a few minutes before we understood the bigger picture.”
Peter loses power periodically during most winters.
“As I learned more about the Pika Islanding Inverter, I realized that it was an excellent choice, as I now have flexibility to expand my solar capabilities, provide battery backup, and efficiently transport DC current to other buildings,” Peter said.