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Last week Central and Southern Arizona residents endured 115 to 118-degree temperatures. Thankfully, we did not experience brownouts from the load thousands of air conditioning units put on the energy providers’ systems.

However, the monsoons are on their way, and we have already had outages in the East Valley from the first storm of the season as, unlike last summer, we are expecting an active season. In addition to the heat, we will have humidity, rain, and lightning. These scenarios can prevent the energy from flowing to your home.

What if you or someone in your household requires oxygen 24/7 or has a medical condition that requires the home environment to stay cool and dry? What do you do if the power goes out?

Fox Valley Electric and Solar a Rosie-Certified Partner, has options, as explained by owner, Randy Cole

Solar Power

With a properly sized solar system you can produce power without having a power bill. A solar power system will produce power when the sun is high and push excess power to the grid. At night power from the grid is used to power the home.

A solar system often results in the homeowner realizing substantial savings in their power bills.

A solution is a solar system combined with a properly sized storage battery that connects a home to the grid to produce power throughout the night. The battery stores generated power. Homes remain connected to the grid as they are for water and sewer as the grid is an integral part of the system. The storage battery will kick in when the grid goes down maintaining critical circuits like refrigerators and medical equipment.

Pair Solar with a Generator

The challenge we have in Arizona is keeping our air conditioners working in the extreme heat. By pairing the solar system with a battery and a home generator regulated with a ‘smart switch,’ the smart switch takes over when the grid goes down. It seamlessly disconnects the home from the grid, maintaining solar production if the sun is out. It uses the power stored in the battery either solely or supplemental as required while utilizing the generator to power air conditioners or other larger loads.

This system ties solar panels and battery storage systems together to coexist with the generator. It will monitor the generator if it does not need to run all the time conserving fuel.

A smart switch will regulate the generator. If the home is not using a lot of electricity when the power goes down, the generator may not need to run.

Home Standby Generator System

Home generators can be a great source of security and comfort during storms and power outages.

A whole-house generator uses natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (propane). The generator is connected to your home’s electrical wiring and the fuel source. These are fully automatic systems. The auto-transfer switch (ATS) detects a power outage and restores power with the generator in less than 10 seconds. When the grid voltage is restored, the system will connect the home back to the utility lines and turn itself off. This can be programmed with a delay of 10 minutes to reduce the ‘chatter’ of off/on as the grid restabilizes on restoration reducing spikes and surges on home appliances.

Solar/Battery Generators vs. Portable Gas Generators

Portable generators have limitations. They run on gas, which has a short shelf life of three to four months. Gas just doesn’t store well. In addition, frequent refueling throughout an outage can be very dangerous and inconvenient during extreme heat or violent storms.

Propane and natural gas are better options because they are piped to the generator for automatic usage and don’t have the storage issues that gasoline or diesel do. A 250-gallon tank can power a generator at a rate of two to three gallons an hour for several days. Randy suggests buying 250-gallon tank at the minimum. The difference between a 250 and 500-gallon can be nominal in cost. The tank can be buried underground and propane, unlike gas, will stay in the tank for years and not go bad.

“We really recommend solar coupled with a battery system and generator governed by the smart switch,” says Randy. “You can even use it as your main power source on a trailer or mobile home.”

Randy says a 10kW system can often offset an entire energy bill saving you thousands and thousands of dollars. “Utility rates go up, but with solar system investment, you have a fixed cost.”

The battery is rechargeable from solar or grid after use. It can also be programmable to discharge when you want, such as peak hours. Home batteries are typically warrantied for 10 or so years and can have a lifespan even longer.

Fox Valley Electric and Solar offers these Kohler power options:

BEST | Total Electric Independence

Be completely protected from utility outages and blackouts with automated generator support. Operate your air conditioner, refrigerator, freezer, and medical equipment when utility power fails. Plus, generate enough power with solar panels and be free of electric utility bills. This system utilizes solar panels with a home battery and automatic generator, all controlled with a smart switch.

BETTER | Battery Protected Critical Load

Have battery-powered protection for critical loads in case of utility outages and blackouts by automatically powering the refrigerator, freezer, or medical equipment. This system utilizes solar panels with a home battery for specific smaller loads.

GOOD | Free of Electric Utility Bills

Enjoy freedom from electric bills. Generate enough power with solar panels to reduce your usage bills right at zero usage. Your power comes from the sun.

Note: The generator is usually placed near the power entrance to the home. Battery power life varies based on size and exact loads on select critical circuits. A pre-installation roof inspection is recommended and not included, nor is any new roofing. Selecting a system depends on the size of your house and load need. A system can be customized to meet your individual needs and budget.

Financing is available through GreenSky and HFS.

“We sell and install Kohler generators because they are reliable and robust,” notes Randy.

Solar, generator, and battery power offer reliable, cost-saving electricity – a trifecta!



Randy Cole of Fox Valley Electric explains how a properly designed home energy system using solar, generator and batteries can give you uninterrupted power when the utility electricity goes down. Plus a properly designed home energy system can offset your power bill to Zero Net! We explain how these three power source can make a complete home power solution.


Since 2007, Fox Valley Electric has provided quality electrical construction, service and maintenance to their customers in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Their electricians can install anything from new security lighting to a whole-home generator that will keep appliances working during a power outage.

Photo Credits:

  • Kohler
  • Shutterstoc

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