Set to be complete this summer, a Lancaster, Calif., home will be a test case for a first-of-its-kind residential solar system with backup battery technology. Los Angeles-based production builder KB Home has started construction on the prototype dwelling that not only will run on solar power but also capture it in a lithium-FE battery for future use.
Stored in a four-battery charging cabinet in the garage, each 2-foot-by-3-foot battery will hold enough energy to power the house for two to three days, according to Craig LeMessurier, KB Home director of corporate communications. The 15-pound, 10 kWh batteries can be tapped at night or on cloudy days when solar panels can’t generate enough energy to meet the home’s needs.
“With the battery backup system, it will be simple for consumers to understand how they can save money on energy bills by saving energy and then using it at non-peak times,” says Steve Ruffner, president of KB Home’s Southern California division. “We think this will have a long-term effect on their utility bills.”
If the system is as effective at lowering energy bills as the company predicts, Ruffner says, it will become an option on homes in the Southern California market, although a pricing structure has not been worked out yet. In some areas of the country, the company offers related options such as solar panels and pre-wiring to accommodate electric vehicles.
“We’ll operate this as a showcase home for several months and compare its energy use to other homes in the area,” he says.
The prototype’s solar panels, batteries, charging pedestal, and other accessories will be provided by Chinese electronics manufacturer BYD. The city of Lancaster, also a partner in the project, has waived municipal development fees, says Mayor R. Rex Parris.
“This has the potential to revolutionize the way homes are designed and built in the United States,” he adds.
Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor Online for EcoHome.