Here in Washington, D.C., we are still picking up the pieces from the great storm last Friday night. If you have been trying to reach SolarTown, you may have had some trouble as our Internet and telephone services are not operating.
I was on hold with Verizon yesterday for three hours to get through to a representative to find out that there was an outage in our area. You think? The strange thing is that some of the other businesses around us are connected and we are able to connect to the Internet across the street in our local French café in our neighborhood of Columbia Heights.
I was stunned by the extent of the damage. I went to bed just as the storm hit on Friday night and saw the beginning of the spectacular lightning show that nature offered up. The wind gusts that accompanied the storm were not unusual for this part of the country. That is why I when I got up on Saturday morning and saw 50 year old oaks leveled like match sticks, I was rather surprised. At home, we came out without any damage, but just a block away a tree fell over the entire road, blocking the street for three days before the workmen took a chainsaw to the tree.
As I was bicycling to work, just a few feet from the fallen tree, I saw some other workers who had nothing to do with the clean-up—they were from SolarCity and installing a solar panel system. They had somehow managed to maneuver around the fallen trees and the strange traffic patterns as the signal lights all over the city were not working.
I am particularly interested in this installation, for if you are an avid reader of this blog, you will know that not far away in the neighborhood of Cleveland Park, the historic preservation committee voted down a solar energy system on a home not far from where I live. Our neighborhood, however, is not part of a historic preservation district so the homeowners have a freer hand in placing a solar panel system on their homes.
There are two good points for the homeowner, which actually are different from our home just a few steps away. The good news for the homeowner is that although the house occupies a corner lot but most of the roof visible from the street is facing the north. I am assuming, although I won’t know for a few days, that the solar panels will likely not be visible from the street. If you look at this image I took yesterday, it appears that the solar array is going up in the back of the office so this home is particularly suited for a solar panel system.
The other factor making this solar home particularly well-suited for a solar energy system is that there appear to be no significant shading problems. Just a few feet away, our home is surrounded by oaks and hickories pressing 60 feet in the sky and casting long shadows on our home—great to keep the home cool and shaded from the sun, but not great for solar panels that need the sun’s rays to produce energy.
Just because this homeowner will have a solar panel system, it does not mean that the homeowner will have backup power in the event of another disaster. The vast majority of installations do not have battery backup power. Most homeowners don’t want the additional expense and don’t want to take care of the solar batteries that they would have to maintain. A battery backup solar system to a grid tie system or an emergency backup off grid system would provide some electricity for your vital needs.
We also carry at SolarTown other off grid products that will allow you to weather the storm. A solar refrigerator can be used to maintain your food, and one model of a solar fridge allows you to maintain medicines. If you are digging out any everyone on your street doesn’t have power, if you had a solar oven, you could prepare your food so long as the sun is out. And of course, if you can’t live without your computer, we have solar bags or small portable solar backup systems to provide just enough juice for your computers or handheld devices.
As Washington, DC digs out from the latest natural disaster, it was heartening to see one of our neighbors looking ahead and installing a solar energy system for the future.