Look around your home. Your land line phone, fireplace and pilot lights (on stoves and hot water heaters) are likely gone. Our reliance on electrical power has increased significantly over the past 20 years. So when there is a power failure, we have no communications, no heat and no hot water. Our electricity-intensive society needs backup power more than ever. This week, we review the spectrum of backup power solutions from generators to home battery backup power systems connected to solar.

I’ve been installing home battery backup power systems on and off for 20 years. Most systems used lead-acid batteries that were complicated to install, had limited lifespans, and required frequent maintenance. Although these systems were OK for off-grid living, they did not provide the reliability and ease of use needed for the vast majority of customers.

Battery and inverter technology has improved significantly over the past few years. For many homes and businesses, a lithium ion-based battery backup system is more reliable and cheaper than a generator. Moreover, when connected with rooftop solar, these systems often qualify for federal tax credits and significant rebates.

Whether you are a home or business owner interested in backup power, a solar contractor, or a manufacturer of battery storage systems, Listen Up to this primer on practical backup power options.