Blue Planet Energy Prepares Off-Grid Northern California Homeowner For Wildfire Season

June 29, 2021
3 Min

With the nearest utility pole roughly 1,200 feet away, the equivalent of about three football fields, powering this Northern California home’s water supply with a fully off-grid system was the clear environmental and economical choice. Given that close to a million customers of local utility, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), lost power between August and October of 2020 due to potential wildfire hazards, solar and storage expert Nick Lucchese of Lucchese Solar and his client knew the considerable benefits to a fully off-grid lifestyle. However, his client had been let down in the past with unreliable and polluting fossil fuel-powered generators as well as difficult to maintain lead acid battery banks.

Nick’s client initially powered his water well pump with a noisy and disruptive diesel generator. He grew tired of constantly having to refuel the generator and sought a more sustainable solution that would not contribute to climate change. In order to maintain good relationships with neighbors, the generator also could only run the pump for a fraction of the time the water was needed. 

He then decided to install a 3 kW ground mounted solar array with batteries that had one of the lower upfront price points - twenty-four flooded lead acid L16 batteries. However, his lead acid batteries could only be discharged up to 50 percent without damaging the batteries and reducing their lifespan. As a result, even though the rated capacity of his lead acid battery bank was 42 kWh at the outset, he could actually only use 21 kWh, without factoring in the up to 20 percent additional reductions in capacity experienced during the colder winter months. 

Although the weaknesses of flooded lead acid were explained early on, Nick’s client observed more and more that he was afraid to use the capacity he had purchased. He felt it might be questionable that the battery bank would be healthy enough to sustain the high discharge rates required to pull water out of the ground in the event of an emergency. 

After his second bank of lead acid batteries started showing signs of weakness in a matter of a few years, Nick’s client  decided to invest in a more reliable and longer-lasting lithium ion energy storage system that can also be scaled up over time, like the rest of the components of his solar system. Having designed and installed a wide array of battery systems through his reputable Nevada City, California-based solar-plus-storage business, Nick shared his knowledge of what he truly believes is the best option available for the demands of off-grid living. 

His client ultimately selected a 12 kWh Blue Ion HI energy storage system and OutBack Power VFXR 48V inverters to pair with his solar array, taking comfort in Blue Planet Energy’s 15-year performance warranty and track record for high-quality systems. Given that Nick has installed countless Blue Planet Energy systems for nearly five years, and that he has specialized in off-grid solar-plus-storage systems for the majority of his career, he knew this new Blue Planet Energy system would exceed his client’s expectations, as it had for all of his other customers over the years.

Nick Lucchese, owner of Lucchese Solar, next to the recently upgraded OutBack Power VFXR inverters and Blue Ion HI energy storage system in Northern California.

Although the 12 kWh Blue Ion HI system has about a quarter of the rated capacity of Nick’s client’s previous 42 kWh lead acid battery bank, the Blue Ion HI only needs to be run about a quarter of the time to power his client’s water well, leaving more energy for other loads. Unlike the prior lead acid battery banks installed in the past, the Blue Ion HI can handle the high power requirements of the water pump - about 3300 watts - without faltering. 

The Blue Ion HI also can be discharged up to 100 percent and therefore has double the usable capacity of individual lead acid batteries, requiring less batteries to be purchased. While designed to primarily power the 2.5 horse power water pump for the site’s water well, this 3 kW solar plus 12 kWh Blue Ion HI energy storage system now provides clean and reliable twenty-four-seven energy for his client’s lighting, pressure pump for the water tank, refrigerator and internet - all while taking up less space on his property. 

“Beyond its high quality components and sleek aesthetics, I am an enthusiastic dealer for Blue Planet Energy’s Blue Ion HI system because they offer one of the safest, most reliable and long-lasting energy storage solutions on the market,” Nick said. “I also love that the Blue Ion HI can be easily and incrementally expanded as my clients’ energy needs grow, as well as the fact that it was thoughtfully designed to be stackable, allowing me greater flexibility in the design and installation process. Implementing a Blue Ion energy storage solution for my clients offers a clear and intuitive asset for storing site-made energy. I’m honored to have been part of the Blue Planet Energy ‘ohana for so many years, knowing that we are working together toward a more sustainable and energy independent California and world.”

As a result of solar energy, the robust Blue Ion HI energy storage system, as well as Nick’s design and installation expertise, Nick’s client now has reliable, off-grid access to clean water at any time of day or night. 

Today, Blue Planet Energy is predominantly the only energy storage brand Nick offers, whether it be for his full-time off-grid customers or those affected by the now commonplace PG&E power shutoffs. “Partnering with Blue Planet Energy and their energy storage solutions helps my clients and me feel confident we’re on the best path to reach energy independence by 2045. The foundation for believing in one’s own energy independence is fully trusting the energy storage asset, and with Blue Planet Energy my customer’s and my homesteads will hopefully be early to the 2045 clean energy challenge by a couple decades,” Nick concluded.