• Among the many uses of solar and battery storage, perhaps the least known, but maybe one of the most significant, is its implementation in backing up home medical equipment. There are a number of medical conditions that require equipment or climate control to be powered constantly or there may be fatal consequences. In these cases, solar + battery storage can literally be a lifesaver, because if blackouts do occur, the solar +  battery backup will be there to keep equipment running and the A/C on. Let’s take a look at the implications of solar + storage in powering home medical equipment, as well as some of the ways it has been implemented to help people with various medical conditions.

    How Does Solar + Battery Backup Work?

    The way solar battery backup works is quite simple. During the day, when the solar is producing more power than the home is using, the extra power is sent to the solar battery. The battery then stores as much extra power as it can (based on capacity) for use later when the sun goes down and the solar is not producing. If for whatever reason, power from the grid shuts off, the power stored in the battery will be used by the home. The more battery capacity the home has, the longer it can be powered by the solar battery. This setup can help prevent power outages in homes, even when there are widespread blackouts in the area.

    Why Backup Power Is Important

    Unfortunately for homeowners and renters in the San Diego area, rolling blackouts are going to become more common in the future, especially in the outlying areas of San Diego County. With the increasing number of wind-fueled fires in California in the last few years, (53,083 in 2018 alone) the utilities have come under the gun for being the cause of many of the fires. Pacific Gas and Electric in the bay area, for example, has declared bankruptcy as a result of lawsuits that found that they were responsible for the Carr Fire in Paradise, CA last year. To protect themselves, PG&E along with SCE and SDG&E have announced that they will increasingly be using rolling blackouts during times of high fire danger (high-wind events in the coming years. Since PG&E cut off power to 60,000 homes and SDG&E cut off power to 30,000 homes last year, there is no reason to doubt that they will be actively implementing blackouts again this year.

    So while many homeowners can handle 24 hours without power as simply an inconvenience, that is certainly not the case for many people who have medical conditions. Certain medical conditions like require machines that absolutely have to keep running in order to keep the patient alive. In such cases, even 30 minutes of downtime can be a life-threatening situation. That’s why, for people with these conditions, backup power is not an option; it is a necessity. So if you’re a Californian and you have such a condition, the news of these rolling blackouts by the utilities can be disturbing news. It makes power backup solutions even more important, and makes this even more critical of a time to find a solution.

  • Medical Equipment that Requires Constant Power

    There are many medical conditions that require a constant source of power to fuel either their medical equipment, or to keep their climate controlled. Here is a list of the types of home medical equipment that require constant power to keep patients alive and healthy:

      • Administration equipment - devices used to administer medication via tablets, liquids or aerosols. 
      • Respiratory equipment - devices that are used to treat respiratory conditions by providing airflow. Example: CPAP machines for patients with Sleep Apnea. Those with Sleep Apnea can experience fatal consequences if their CPAP machine doesn’t keep their breathing regular and consistent.
      • Climate Control - There are a number of diseases that can cause thermoregulatory disorders - basically an inability to control internal body temperature. Nervous system damage is often a cause of these, as well as diseases like Fibromyalgia and Multiple Sclerosis. Patients with these types of diseases have to have a well-controlled environment, as in a constant flow of A/C in the Summer, otherwise it can exacerbate their symptoms, and can even be fatal.
      • Assistive Technology - devices used to enhance mobility, sight, hearing, etc.
      • Durable Medical Equipment - devices used to move patients with limited mobility including lifts, beds, conveyors, elevators, etc.
      • Meters and Monitors - any device that helps determine patients health or helps management of medication. 
      • Voiding Equipment - Any equipment that helps the patient void bodily fluids. 
      • Telehealth Equipment - Any equipment that gathers data from monitoring equipment and delivers it to another location for analysis.

    So as you can see, there are a number of categories of home medical equipment that absolutely require a constant flow of power in order to keep the patient healthy, whether it’s by administering medication, controlling the environment, or by delivering information to medical professionals. Even 30 minutes of downtime of any of these devices could have dangerous and even consequences, which is why having a secondary source of power is extremely important. 

    Increasing Numbers of Medical Devices at Home

    It’s no mystery that medical costs have increased dramatically over the past few years. As an indicator, in 2017 health care costs in the US were at $3.5 trillion, equaling 17.9% of GDP. Compare that to 1960, when health care costs were at $27.2 billion, or 5% of GDP. So Americans are spending more on healthcare, and it’s taking a toll on our wallets. 

    These cost increases have lead to more and more patients opting out of hospital care for in-home care. That has lead to an increase in implementation of in-home medical devices, and has expanded the range of devices being used in the home. Between 1995 and 2004, the number of Americans receiving in-home Medicare increased from 1.64 million to 8.3 million, and has been increasing dramatically ever since. From this we can infer that the number of medical equipment devices in the home has gone up along with those numbers.

  • How ‘Graying California’ Will Increase these Numbers Even More

    California is getting older. Not the state itself, but the demographics of its residents. The last of the Baby Boomer generation is now entering the senior age bracket, and, seeing as how they make up a large percentage of the population, seniors will be the fastest growing age group in the state in coming years. State projections estimate that by 2030, over 9 million Californians will be over the age of 65, and that within a decade over 20% of the states population will be seniors. 

    This substantial increase in the senior population means there will be a similar growth of in-home medical devices. If you combine that number with the ever-rising healthcare costs, the increasing blackouts due to increasing fires, and skyrocketing utility costs, you can see that this challenge is not going away.

    That’s why solar + storage will increasingly be the answer to this dilemma, providing one less age-related problem to worry about. Solar + battery storage is not just the safest and most dependable way to provide backup power, but is also the affordable and predictable way to keep costs under control.

    So, if you or a family member uses home medical equipment that has to be powered at all times, you should consider going solar and utilizing battery storage to make sure your equipment doesn’t go down during blackouts, or doesn’t make your power bills skyrocket. If you have solar + battery storage, you can be sure that your equipment will never be without power, so you can rest easy, even in times of high fire danger. Contact us today to get your free quote on solar + battery storage. and breathe easy.

     

  • About the Author

    Brooks Venters

    brooksventers.com

    Brooks Venters is a Digital Marketing Professional and SEO Specialist in San Diego, where he works for SunPower by Stellar Solar and has been running their website and publishing their website content for over 5 years. Now fully immersed in the solar industry, Brooks is dedicated to educating homeowners on the benefits of solar, so that more people can wean themselves off the power company, saving money, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.