February 23, 2023

What You Need to Know About Installing a Rural Home Energy Storage System


6 Min. Read

As infrastructure ages, electric grids may become less reliable, particularly in rural communities, leading to an increasing need for off-grid energy storage systems. Battery storage can act as a backup power source for homes with fragile grid connections, while solar panels can provide electricity for those with no grid access.

Choosing the correct system can be tricky, and two factors should be considered before installing a home energy storage system: the amount of storage capacity required and preferred battery technology. The type of system needed depends on location and power usage, and prices can vary between lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries.

Homeowners should assess their electrical needs to determine the battery storage size and type of technology they require. For rural areas with community grid access, microgrid or single-home nanogrid strategies offer a solution for energy autonomy.

In this article, we’ll look at two solutions for how to store electricity off-grid. One option creates a solution for rural homes that are remote and unconnected to a transmission grid. The other method is ideal for homes in rural towns connected to a community grid that may suffer from unreliable service. Both solutions make the electricity supply more resilient by utilizing energy storage.

Electrifying the Secluded Homesite

Depending on where you live, your home may have a tenuous connection to the grid via a line susceptible to outages. Potential sources for outage events range from wildlife, snow, and ice storms to flooding, landslides, or fire. The connection may be finicky and prone to flickering out due to an aging or overtaxed system as electricity demand increases. Possibly, your home is not connected to the grid at all. Whether your home is experiencing power outages or electric shortages, battery storage can provide a perfect solution by increasing your independence from the grid and boosting your home’s energy reliability.

If grid access is available in your home, your battery storage system can charge via the grid. Your home can draw on the stored kilowatts to maintain your electrical needs during a line outage. If you don’t have any grid access, installing a PV solar array is an excellent option to provide energy to your home. This assumes there is enough sunlight to generate electricity. Suppose your home is outfitted with solar panels and has grid access. In that case, the batteries can charge when the sun is visible and draw upon that source as needed to power your home, either in conjunction with grid energy or independently in outages.

How Does a Home Energy Storage System Work

Two key factors must be considered before installing a home energy storage system. One is how much storage capacity you need, and the other depends on your preferred battery technology.

Once you’ve answered these questions, narrowing down your options and finding the perfect solution becomes much easier.

Deciding How Much Storage Capacity You Need

First, you’ll want to contact the utility serving your area if there is one. The company should be able to supply you with details regarding the reliability of any existing lines connecting your property to the grid, as well as the frequency of any outages in your area. Remember that “act of nature” outages can be unpredictable and range from wildlife causing a temporary, small outage to inclement weather leading to downed powerlines across acres of land.

The next step is to size your battery system. It’s best to consult your utility or certified electrician for more information, and using an online battery bank sizing calculator can help you to determine the following:

  • How many watts/hours will you need per day to cover critical appliances?
  • Will you only power critical needs or provide whole-home coverage?
  • Will you need to power an electric vehicle?
  • Is your property reliant on electrical farming equipment?
  • Do you plan to install solar panels?

Answering the questions above will help you determine what size battery storage system you will need. The next step is determining the type of technology you want to install.

How to Select Your Battery Technology

For most applications, the choice of battery storage boils down to two technologies: lithium-ion batteries and lead-acid batteries. While both battery types utilize an electrochemical process to store and discharge electrons, lead-acid batteries use a chemical reaction between lead and sulfuric acid to produce electricity, whereas lithium-ion batteries generate current through the use of alkali metal stored between positive and negative electrodes. Ultimately, the choice between these two technologies comes down to individual needs and preferences.

Lithium-ion batteries are generally considered to be the superior choice in terms of safety, efficiency, and ease of use. While lead acid batteries may offer a more affordable price point, they do come with a few notable drawbacks. Specifically, lead acid batteries have a larger carbon footprint and require more complex wiring and special ventilation to function properly. Furthermore, Lithium-ion batteries require fewer cells to achieve similar output levels compared to lead acid batteries. In terms of residential applications, the lithium-ion battery is widely recommended due to its exceptional safety features. This technology is considered one of the safest methods available for battery storage.

The pros and cons of the two battery technologies break down as follows:

  • Lithium-ion battery technology is newer than lead-acid technology.
  • Lithium-ion battery technology is preferable for most applications because it is more reliable, efficient, and has a longer lifespan than lead-acid.
  • The chief advantage of lead-acid batteries is that they are less expensive than the lithium-ion variety.

It’s a good idea to consult a buyer’s guide to fully understand the pros and cons of different home battery storage technologies.

In-Town Solutions

If your home is in a rural area, one key issue to consider is the reliability of your community’s electricity supply. In some cases, the supply might be generated locally, perhaps from a small hydropower facility. The community might instead be served by a line connected to the grid, where power is sourced directly from power generators in a larger urban area. Whether a utility company, a municipality/public energy source, or a co-op, inquiring about the supplier about reliability will give you greater insight into the area’s grid resiliency and reliability.

Even if the local source is stable, you may wish to become self-reliant and independent of the grid by installing solar panels to foster greater resilience and avoid using electricity generated by burning coal altogether. A single-home nanogrid strategy can be designed to save you money over the long term and make your energy autonomous.

Another increasingly popular option is to join a power network with similarly inclined households nearby and establish a microgrid, a distributed energy system. A microgrid can involve a central solar array jointly owned and operated by you and your neighbors, or it can consist of multiple individually owned solar systems that are communally wired to share and store the electricity they generate.

Putting together a microgrid can be a complex undertaking. The first step is determining if a microgrid is allowed where you are. You will probably need to involve your local utility, and it’s important to evaluate how the costs and expenses of your microgrid will be shared with any neighbors. Becoming well-informed about establishing a microgrid will help you with this communal decision.

Futurize Your Energy Ecosystem

Battery storage is a big part of the clean energy transition, and Qmerit is here to help you make smart and safe choices for your rural home. Before installing a home energy storage system, there is much to learn, but the benefits can be extremely rewarding. You’ll ultimately save money, reduce your carbon footprint and combat global warming, and increase the resiliency and reliability of your home electricity supply.

With the largest network of certified electricians across the U.S. and Canada, over 6,200 battery storage installations, 34,600 solar system integrations, and 84,300 electric panel upgrades, Qmerit is the most trusted installation partner for electrification technologies.

We understand that finding a trusted installer can be a challenge – you wouldn’t trust just anyone in your home – but at Qmerit, we strive to make electrifying your home as easy and seamless as possible. Don’t just take our word for it – reach out and let one of our experts explain the custom solutions available today.

Author: Greg Sowder

Greg Sowder

President, Qmerit Network