Home Power Review of the Blue Ion

Living with Lithium-ion Energy StorageThe Blue Planet Energy team is excited to share the story of Joe Schwartz and his Blue Ion, which are featured on the front cover of Home Power Magazine, May/June 2018. For over 30 years, Home Power Magazine has been the authoritative source of information on off-grid living and energy systems. Joe Schwartz, he is not only the CEO and Publisher of Solar Pro but also for Home Power, but has also lived off grid himself for over 15 years. Schwartz gives his readers a full 5-page review on his experience of switching his off-grid property in Oregon from lead-acid batteries to a Blue Ion home.

In his review, Schwartz gives a first hand account about integrating the Blue Ion energy storage battery into his off-grid homestead’s energy system. This is one of the most thorough third-party reviews of the Blue Ion 2.0 and covers all aspects from the design, installation, initial performance, and operation of the battery. He also shares why he was ready to switch to Lithium-ion. “I have studied and researched how LI energy storage system (ESS) for home-scale system integrate with other renewable energy (RE) components. I always had curiosity of how LI technology will influence off-grid system design and how LI technology will change the way we manage energy generation and use in off-grid systems.”

Impressions on Making the Switch from Lead-Acid to Blue Ion Technology

He further goes into detail on why Lithium-ion Technology is changing the way for off-grid living and solar-powered homes around the country.

“The operational cycle life of LI batteries is not meaningfully impacted by [Depth of Discharge (DOD)], and they are considered to have a usable capacity near 100%. Deep discharges, even up to 100%, will not damage the battery or result in a permanent loss of capacity….The Blue Ion 2.0 specifies a cycle life of 8,000 cycles at 100% DOD. The cycle rating works out to just under 22 years (8,000 cycles divided by 365 days). This available capacity allows off-grid designers to consider days of autonomy and array-to-storage capacity ratios from a new perspective.”

50 Acres of Farm-based Off-Grid Living

Blue Planet Energy Home PowerSchwartz’s 50-acre off-grid property is in southwestern Oregon, about a dozen miles outside of Ashland. Oregon’s climate has temperatures on the property that range from triple digits in the summer to single digits in the winter. The property has wide-open, nearly shade-free solar access in a region with an annual average of 198 days of sunshine. His site has evolved gradually over the last few years, from a simple retreat—a camp trailer, a few PV modules, and a satellite Internet dish—to a rustic homestead with a small organic farm.

The gradual evolution of his property site resulted in increasing electrical loads. The range of daily energy requirement is from 5kWh to more than 20kWh depending on the season. His household electrical load includes a well pump, lighting, household appliances, home electronics, Internet networking components, and other power tools used during construction phases. The use of energy varies from season to season with the highest period of energy use is usually during summer.

The Beauty and Convenience of Real-time Energy Monitoring

Blue Planet Energy HomepowerSchwartz is like any homeowner that works or travels away from home a lot. “Because we spend some of our time at our studio in town, online access to our system data is especially important.” He further added, “The Blue Ion monitoring includes a web-based interface that’s linked to the system owner’s account, and an Apple iOS app.The app’s initial view displays battery SOC information that includes: the time until the battery is full, at the current charge rate; a battery SOC graph; the kWh needed to fill the battery to 100%; the total charging power of the site’s inputs; and the cumulative number of battery cycles. Additional app displays include daily, weekly, and monthly data for minimum, maximum, and average battery SOC.”

What’s great about our app he explains, “If additional CTs are installed on individual charging sources or load circuits, this information is also available online. The app includes a unique circular 24-hour energy usage graph that also indicates sunrise and sunset markers for the current day. It’s an interesting way to view the system’s daily energy consumption cycle.”

Using All Your Energy Storage Empowers Daily Life

“Since we’ve installed the Blue Ion 2.0 LI system, I’m gradually becoming more comfortable with DODs that I never would have considered in the past. We’re getting into the habit of using electric cooking appliances and electric point-of-use water heating after dark or in the morning when the sun’s not yet on the arrays.“ This is a big change for someone used to needing to treat lead-acid batteries very delicately, being sure not to discharge them very much and definitely never to 100%.

Welcome to the Blue Planet Energy ‘ohana and simple, elegant off-grid living power by Blue Ion, Joe!

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