It was baby bathtime on Monday night (9 August 2021) at Nick’s home in Huntington, Hamilton when, without warning, the lights went out. Plunged into darkness, Nick bundled his baby daughter in a towel and went to check on his wife, Siren, and young son who were in another room where the lights were still on, unaware there had even been a power cut. Nick initially thought a fuse had gone, but there was nothing at the fuse board to confirm this, and when he looked outside, he noticed the whole street was in darkness.
Nick soon learned that there was a major blackout in the region, affecting about 34,350 homes in central and eastern parts of the North Island on one of the coldest nights of the year after nationwide demand for electricity reached an all-time high. The national grid, unable to cope with the demand, declared a “grid emergency” at 7pm, asking local distribution companies to reduce load on their networks. Some were able to reduce load by turning off hot water heating, while others cut power to homes altogether.
This was the first power outage in the area that Nick had experienced since becoming a solarZero customer in April 2019. The backup power in the smart battery supplied electricity to the backup circuits immediately after the power went out, which kept the lights and appliances on.
The solarZero smart battery that provided Nick and his family with power while the grid was down
Resilience for the home
When solarZero was installed, Nick opted to connect the battery backup circuits to run some of the lights, WIFI, TV and Playstation during a power outage.
Nick said one of the great things about having the backup power from his solarZero battery was that he was able to check his mysolarZero dashboard and see what charge was available in the battery, and what electricity the house was currently using.
"I was able to make decisions about what to turn off so we could make the best use of the stored energy in the battery, and extend the time it was able to keep things running, as we didn't know how long the outage would last," says Nick.
Once he realised the whole neighbourhood was out of power, Nick checked on his next-door neighbours - an elderly lady on one side and a young family on the other whose child was scared of the dark. He offered both households to come to his home as he had power and was able to keep his porchlight on to signal to other neighbours that he had power if they needed assistance.
solarZero panels installed on Nick's roof, generating energy for his home
Why Nick chose solarZero
Nick first learned about solarZero through a Facebook post that caught his attention.
He had looked into solar power before but discovered the cost of purchasing panels and a battery was way too expensive and the gear itself difficult to manage and too complex.
“What I like about solarZero is the price, and being able to avoid the constant power price hike, as well as the environmental benefits and getting as much solar out there as possible,” says Nick.
Nick is so happy with his solarZero service that he’s also referred another local household and hopes to help more people be part of the GridforGoodTM, solarZero’s community of homeowners across New Zealand.
Nick says the best thing about powering his home with solarZero is having backup power during power cuts - something he’s grateful for after being affected by the recent North Island blackout.
As well as powering their home with solarZero, Siren’s electric bike is charged up with sunshine, which she uses to travel to and from work.