Does Solar Storage Provide Enough Backup Power for Hotels?
Every Minute Counts for Hotels When the Power Goes Out – What’s Your Plan?
Hotels need backup power. Hopefully there’s no question about that. The question is, what’s the best solution for securing your hotel’s backup power? Generators? Solar batteries? Something else?
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to that question, what you’re about to read might surprise you. Most hotels currently use generators for backup power. And there are many types of generators, some better suited for hotels of various sizes. But solar energy storage technology has advanced a lot, even in just in the last year, and may be your best option.
Will solar storage work for your hotel? Read on to find out.
Why Is Backup Power Essential for Hotels?
The NFPA codes cover life safety systems like elevators, exit lights, key card readers, and sprinkler systems. These cannot ever be out, and most of them have their own battery backups systems. Even elevators will have enough to make it to the ground floor and open the doors.
Is your hotel up to code in these areas?
But beyond that, the consequences of a prolonged power outage can be disastrous for hotels. If you’re not prepared, you stand to lose tens of thousands in revenue. It’s not just unhappy guests who have lost their HVAC comforts. Your restaurant and bar will have to close. You may have to dump perishable and frozen foods. You won’t be able to process credit cards.
In places that have experienced widespread power outages, businesses with backup power were able to continue serving food and other comforts and necessities to guests, while other businesses – including hotels – had to close their doors. What happened next? All the people quickly figured out who still had power. What happened to the revenue at those hotels and restaurants? Cha-ching!
So, you don’t just prevent the loss of revenue by having backup power. You gain new revenue from people who will come to your hotel because your lights are still on.
When the power goes out, your backup power will sustain your business.
A Famous Power Blackout
A widespread blackout in New York in 2003 led to $4+ billion in losses. It also revealed how unprepared hotels really are for extended outages. Hotels went without AC, guest room lights, computers, cooking systems and refrigeration, elevators, phones, hot water, bathrooms, automatic doors, emergency lights, potable water, two-way radios, and guest room locks.
If you notice, all the emergency systems that are required by code are on that list. Hotels lost them in a severe blackout, even though they are required. Why? Because the backup systems didn’t last long enough.
Old School Backup Power Options
Historically, you’ve had only a few options for where to generate enough backup power to sustain your hotel’s many essential power needs.
You can get diesel generators and natural gas generators. Both have their pros and cons. But both have four major points against them:
- Noise – not exactly conducive to sleep, which kind of matters in the hotel business
- Cost – generators are costly to maintain and operate and use lots of fuel
- Pollution – you are using a very dirty method for generating power
- Insecure – if you run out of fuel, you run out of power
Battery Backup Power
The other major option is battery backups, which like generators can be set to power the systems you need most.
In the 2003 blackout, when power was finally restored, it was found that generators outlasted batteries by a 5:1 ratio. Only 16% of batteries were still operating, and 85% of generators were.
So generators clearly beat traditional backup batteries. But that was 2003. The storage solutions in 2020 and beyond are far more advanced.
And generators have their own problems, as you just saw. Diesel is noisy and dirty, but fairly safe. Natural gas is a bit cleaner, but is also explosive.
It’s the cost that really gets you though. And as this article reveals, solar battery storage costs tens of thousands less over a ten-year period compared to generators.
So Is Solar Battery Backup Better for Hotels?
Not so fast. The size of your hotel is a big factor here.
For larger hotels with lots of systems and services, it will take a lot of power generation to backup everything, even if you prioritize your most critical systems. If you lose power at 8pm, your solar batteries would need to power everything all the way through the bustling evening and throughout the night.
If your solar batteries use up their reserves, there’s nothing you can do until the sun comes up.
In other words, if using traditional solar battery storage, large hotels and resorts would be wise to also have a generator – a backup for the solar storage backup.
In the end, you’ll still save money because solar is more cost effective in the long run and that’s the backup you will use first. And you’ll please your guests because majorities of consumers like doing business with companies that use solar power. But you’ll also have the security of knowing you won’t ever run out of power (assuming you have enough generator fuel on hand).
So that’s the final answer? Use solar storage with a backup generator?
Well, maybe. There’s one more option, and it’s the newest and most advanced method of generating and storing backup power.
Industrial Grade Solar and Storage
With industrial grade solar storage, the possibility of securing all your backup power needs through solar is becoming more attractive as the technology continues to advance.
Industrial solar storage utilizes what we call micro-grids. These provide for enhanced on-site energy generation and storage at far larger quantities than the traditional solar batteries described earlier. It’s big-time ‘solar plus storage’ for big-time situations, like hotel backup power.
And, industrial solar from Coastal Solar uses specialized software that dramatically increases your financial benefits and the efficiency and long-term reliability of your solar battery backups. For example, the software delivers huge savings through something called ‘peak-load shaving’.
What Solar Can Do that Generators Can’t
Investing in a backup power system is typically a security measure. It’s something you need to meet regulations. It might help you some day, or it might never be needed. But with most solutions, it’s a sunk cost.
Solar and storage, on the other hand, pays for itself. It’s a true investment with a positive return. And it’s environmental benefits sure make people happy.
Let’s say that again: Generators will only ever cost you money. Solar and Storage can make you money.
Worth Looking Into?
If you have a larger hotel or resort, industrial solar may be the backup power technology you’ve been looking for. Especially if ditching or sidelining your generator has been a long-held desire, or if you know your current backup system isn’t up to the task, it’s worth it to have a conversation with a solar engineering specialist about industrial grade solar plus storage.
Here are some additional resources for hotels looking for energy solutions that benefit your bottom line.