If you’ve resided in New Smyrna Beach – or anywhere in Florida – through one of our hurricane seasons, you’ve likely experienced how unpredictable and stressful an approaching storm can be. Even when landfall is far away from our beach, we still receive a lot of wind and rain. Along with these elements comes damage to our power equipment and widespread power outages. While UCNSB has preparations and response plans in place to minimize these inconveniences for our customers, and get power back on as quickly as possible after a storm, there are ways that homeowners and businesses can take control of their power supply and become more energy resilient.
Multiple areas of our state have experienced power outages for a week or longer after a hurricane. Most Floridians have honed their hurricane preparedness skills, as well as post-storm routines of cleanup and getting by without power for a few days. However, this feels a lot like an impromptu camping trip without the fun of seeing the great outdoors. There are ways to avoid this unpleasant situation. According to NRG Energy, “the best way to ensure consistent electrical access is with onsite backup generation or with renewables and battery storage. Whether you’re in a residential home or running a business with refrigeration or other critical energy needs, backup energy can be comforting, property protecting, and lifesaving.” Now is the time to take action, as a brand new hurricane season begins on June 1st.
Generators provide backup power to keep vital appliances running when the power supply is disrupted. There are different varieties to choose from, including portable, stationary, gas or solar. It is important for home or business owners to do a little research and choose the type that is the best fit for their situation. The Consumer Reports article, “Generators That Keep the Lights on During Hurricane Season” is a great resource that weighs the pros and cons of each type. Stationary, solar-powered generators are ideal because they can be installed by a professional to automatically switch on when the power goes out, they don’t require a constant on-hand fuel supply, and they are much quieter. Yearly maintenance of generators should be added to your hurricane preparedness checklist to make sure they are ready to do their job when a storm strikes. Businesses that are able to keep the lights and power on are often a beacon for the community at these times when many others are in operational.
It’s a no-brainer that when our usual source of electricity from the grid is cut off by downed lines or other damaged equipment, it sure would be helpful to have our own personal store of power saved to use as needed. Solar panels can provide this for homes and businesses. These panels are built to withstand the high winds of hurricanes – up to 140 MPH in most cases. Additionally, they can collect and convert energy for use, even when it isn’t particularly sunny, like when a storm is approaching. However, once the energy grid goes down, solar panels stop absorbing new energy to store. That’s why it is necessary to add a way to save this energy for future use on-site for when an emergency happens.
Energy Storage Systems
According to Clean Energy, it is smart to add a battery storage appliance to your system, complete with a disconnect switch that works to ensure there are no problems when power is restored and pumps back into your residence or business. Professional installation is key to making sure this is done safely. They explain that with this setup, “the panels would act like a solar powered generator for you as long as the sun is shining. If you wanted to have power during the storm or at night, you’ll need some form of battery backup connected to your panels, like the much talked about Tesla Powerwall system.” So, while solar panels are a great start to energy independence, they really need to be paired with a storage solution in order to be useful during a prolonged power loss.
This is an often overlooked step in our yearly preparation because people don’t always associate losing power with too much power frying their appliances. However, throughout the process of working on downed lines and restarting different sections of the grid, electrical currents can fluctuate widely. This can cause expensive equipment within area businesses and within homes to be damaged. It is important to protect these belongings. This is especially true nowadays when a larger number of people are working from home and have created home offices with expensive computers and other equipment. An important thing to remember is that these surge protectors need to be replaced periodically to make sure they haven’t lost their effectiveness. The Home Theater DIY generally recommends they be replaced every two years, to make sure that they are still effective.
Being as prepared as possible before June 1st is the best way to decrease the stress of hurricane season. Even though there is no way to control whether a major storm will head our way or not, there are plenty of things that each NSB resident can do to take control of their overall experience. Taking the steps to make homes and businesses energy resilient now will prove to be extremely beneficial later. When the lights go out (and the AC) you’ll be glad that you invested the time and money in fortifying your property.