Oftentimes adding solar PV to a home is just the tip of the spear into whole-home electrification. Once homeowners begin generating their own electricity, they’ll want to maximize their system production by using or storing as much energy onsite as possible, especially if they’re located in an area that doesn’t offer true net metering. 

With so many incentives and rebates for home electrification, solar companies will inevitably see an increase in inquiries about electrification services and may want to consider adding them to their offerings. 

In this short excerpt from HeatSpring’s free How Electrification Can Expand Business and Climate Impacts for Solar Businesses course, Ann Edminster shares what is considered “the big 4” areas where appliances utilizing gas can be replaced with all-electric alternatives. She also discusses checking the home’s electrical capacity to gain an understanding of what electrical upgrades may need to be made to bring in additional electric appliances. Ann is an expert residential net-zero energy consultant, green building teacher, speaker, and author. 

What are “the BIG four” in electrification?

Okay, so we’ll talk about the more concrete aspects of an electrification project. As I mentioned, these are called “the big four” – space heating, water heating, drying clothes, and cooking. And I’ve got a bit of information about each of these really focusing at a pretty high level, but just on some of the more prominent issues associated with these.

However, there’s also consideration of what’s the big picture in terms of electric demand on a home? There may be an EV present, or in the future, or in some cases, multiple EVs planned for. There may be plans for energy storage. I know increasingly many of you solar installers are including batteries in your offerings. And I understand those are getting more and more popular, no doubt, as a result of power outages associated with wildfires and other undesirable events. 

There are also opportunities to electrify fireplaces, pools, and other water features. I’ve encountered clients who turn out to have other electric demands that, again, maybe we didn’t initially anticipate, such as big aquariums or freezers, that actually are a pretty significant part of the overall equation. So it’s good to understand both everything that’s present and everything that may be in the future.

Checking Electrical Capacity 

As solar installers, I’m sure this is not news to you. You’re going to be looking at the existing electrical panel capacity and open circuits in the panel. And just this red note, this has come up on a couple of projects where due to peculiarities of the utility setup, the amperage delivered to the panel might actually be less than its rated capacity, so it’s conceivable that’s something that you may need to investigate further. 

Of course you’re going to check out what’s the situation for outlets in all of the big four locations, as well as any other locations where any electrical improvements may be part of that laundry list.

I just wanted to draw attention to this note in the center of the screen, that there are 120 volt options available for both heat pump, water heaters, and kitchen cooktops, so if there are capacity constraints in those areas, just keep in mind that you may be able to offer some suggestions about those. 

So once you’ve checked all that out, you want to make an estimate of the updated capacity that may be needed. This is just an example, you know, this is not any specific home, just an idea of how to kind of catalog your capacity upgrade that might be needed.

Want to learn more? Enroll in the free How Electrification Can Expand Business and Climate Impacts for Solar Businesses course today.