Argh... The electric company has dangled a carrot in front of me that is *almost* tempting, but I just don't know that it's worthwhile... I'd like to see what others think!
I have a small "off-grid" solar system in place - 1KW in panels, 48V 220AH battery bank, Outback inverter and other hardware. I currently have a few outlets placed around the house wired back to a subpanel for the Outback inverter. I've never really finished the dedicated circuits, because the remainder need to be in really difficult-to-reach places like outside walls. I've toyed with the idea of simply disconnecting a few of the existing house circuits from the "grid" breaker panel, wiring them to the "off-grid" subpanel, and just doing it that way. Grabs a few more items than I had planned on running off-grid, but that just means in a real long-term outage I'll have to be sure to unplug unnecessary items.
Now the electric company has installed smart meters in my neighborhood (very cool - I can see my usage down to every 15 minutes online - so far they don't charge for that!) and now they are pushing their "variable peak pricing" plan. Basically time-of-use, where the on-peak price varies depending on demand. The off-peak price drops to less than half the normal price (4.5 c/kwh vs 8.4 c/kwh) and even on-peak could be 4.5c (if low usage) or 8.4c ("normal" usage) only going above that for "high" or "critical". No idea yet how often they hit those other peaks.
My thought was, I could go ahead and wire up the house as planned, then use the solar/battery system to run the house from 2P-7P then (if needed) bulk-charge the bank that evening and let the solar finish the charge the next morning. The system can't run the AC, of course, but that shouldn't be necessary. The house can coast 5 hours without a problem, I'd just set it to not run at all during that time.
Of course, this does add a little inefficiency - 1kWh out of the battery would require a bit more in - but during June-Oct it's generally plenty sunny here so the bulk (if not all) of my usage would be directly from the solar panels.
Sounds great as far as that goes, but on looking back at last summer (I was home a lot more, and it was MISERABLY HOT so high usage for me) if I shifted EVERY kWh I used from standard price to off-peak I save all of $151! Nothing to sniff at, but then I start wondering if I really want to set up this deal where I'm effectively dependent on the RE system (I have to change rate plans) - if I have to replace any major components, that savings is going to take forever to pay back!
So does that sound like something you would bother doing? Anything I might not have considered?