Installing solar panels to offset the cost of buying electricity makes a lot of sense; coupling solar panels with a powerful battery backup is sheer brilliance.
“At today’s electric rates, the payback on this system is 8 to 12 years,” says Francois Byrne of Hybrid Power Solutions. “As rates go up, that payback time just gets shorter.”
Francois is an electrical engineer who has long been fascinated by the challenges of storing electricity. Eventually he founded Hybrid Power Solutions, a manufacturer of highly efficient battery backup systems.
Their systems range from portable units the size of a typical gas-powered generator, to wired-in systems that can power an entire house.
No matter the size, a battery backup system is completely silent and requires no fuel. Just charge it up and you’re ready to go.
Batteries can be charged from the hydro grid, but the most sensible solution is to charge them using solar power, Francois says. “You pay nothing to charge them in the day, and then draw power as you need it at night.”
Better yet, if you’re on the hydro grid, you can push any surplus power back to the power company, receiving a credit which you can then apply any time you use electricity. “On a sunny summer day, you are essentially rolling your meter backwards,” says Francois. “On winter days, if your battery starts to run low you can use that credit to get free power from the grid.”
The combination works so well that Hybrid Power Solutions has started a solar installation division. “It’s a way of offering people a turnkey solution for all their power needs,” says Francois.
Naturally, the combination is also well-suited to off-grid properties, whether a whole home, a backwoods cabin, or simply a bunkie near the water’s edge.
The solar panels and battery packs are made in Canada – the company is opening a new facility in Parry Sound to keep up with demand – and the inverters are assembled in Canada as well.
“We try to keep everything Canadian-made as much as possible,” says Francois.
The panels can be mounted on the roof, on the ground, or on poles, depending on the location and the homeowner’s preference.
“Our systems are designed to last for 15 to 25 years,” says Francois. “Once the system has earned back the upfront cost, you end up enjoying many years of free electricity.”
TEXT A. WAGNER-CHAZALON