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Home Battery Backup Gets Neighbors Buzzed, Buzzing During Blackout

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Josh Taub

SolarEdge Editor

December 16, 2020 Comments ()
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Home Battery Backup Gets Neighbors Buzzed, Buzzing During Blackout

When solar expert, Kirk Hayes, and his wife, Judy, rolled their Craftsman Coffee cart onto their lawn for the first time during a PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff, they weren’t sure what to expect. As a line formed around the block, they realized this was a growth moment for themselves and the community. Now, with a successful caffeine business on the rise, and Kirk’s growing list of SolarEdge installs, they aren’t looking back.

In recent years, wildfires and planned power outages in California have taken thousands of properties off the grid for days at a time. However, through the right SolarEdge system – one with battery storage – some homeowners will never have to be worried about being left in the dark again. 
Some will even profit.

Meet Kirk and Judy Hayes, who recently turned a blackout into the official launch of their own coffee company, while using the same event to introduce SolarEdge battery solutions to neighbors and friends.
Kirk Hayes is not your typical homeowner with an eye towards solar—it is his life. The owner of Hayes Energy Consulting (HEC) with over a decade of experience in assisting on large-scale renewable energy systems, Kirk’s one true passion is harnessing the Sun to “help the world live smarter and save bigger.” 
But before he would ever offer a top residential battery solution to his HEC customers, Kirk would first install one in his own home: “With the recent rise in PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs, and the amount of usage we rely on at our home, there was no question it was time to install some backup,” he says.

“An estimated 2 million people — or 738,000 customer accounts — were blacked out at some point during the historic shut-offs” – San Francisco Chronicle
Kirk’s background gave him the inside track on what products to look at: “I began asking around, and there was a consensus that SolarEdge was the most efficient way to go. For me, the power optimizer design is extremely cost-effective, the LG battery is superior, and the ability to manage PV and backup in one app really sealed the deal.” After installation, Kirk became increasingly hooked on the value and savings that the system brought to his wallet. 

Then, it happened. 

A planned PG&E power outage left the Hayes’ entire neighborhood in the dark. But, because of SolarEdge, Kirk and Judy stayed fully operational. 
With so many at the mercy of the utility, they realized it would be the perfect time to bring a weary community together over some of their own Craftsman Coffee—Judy Hayes, a coffee expert in her own right had already spent years perfecting her brew, using beans sourced from Brazil, Africa and beyond.

Without skipping a beat, Kirk posted an ad on social media site, NextDoor, and the response was overwhelming. Over 100 people showed up to their yard the next morning, with some waiting up to 45 minutes for their solar-powered drinks. Meanwhile, local homeowners were experiencing, up close, the benefits of PV-plus-battery. The interest in staying on when the grid is off was instant – and Kirk found himself answering question after question.

This would be the spark to ignite HEC’s installation business: “Through HEC, I’d only been focused on consulting at that point,” he says. “Suddenly, I was seeing how I could bring the benefits of SolarEdge directly to my friends, family and local homeowners looking to be much more energy independent.” 

Soon after the shutoff, Kirk became known as a thought leader for solar in his region. Through online forums to educate locals on SolarEdge technology, he was contacted with multiple job offers – which, in turn, led to three successful battery installs and counting: “I hired an electrician, and just started setting up visits. My customers were so happy with SolarEdge that word of mouth spread quick.”

In five years, Kirk sees HEC becoming a regional expert in educating residents, businesses and industries, such as agriculture, on weaning of the grid and learning to take full control of their energy usage – ALL while leveraging SolarEdge as the technology of choice. 

Running a sustainable coffee outfit has since become important part of Kirk and Judy’s Craftsman Coffee business, which boasts of branded cups, bags and beans and the ability to roast and heat up morning beverages on sunshine. Not only did their initial event create opportunities for more revenue, it led to expansion, with a new coffee truck (soon to be solar-powered) at a busy location in the heart of Pacifica, California.

Want to know what the buzz is all about?
Find out what SolarEdge home backup can do for you.  

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