Case study: Backup power with solar canopy and Tesla Powerwalls

Published June 15, 2020

LightWave Solar installed this solar canopy, providing power and beauty for the Shupe residence.

Three days before the May 3 derecho caused widespread damage and power outages in Middle Tennessee, LightWave Solar turned on a solar + Tesla Powerwall system for homeowner, David Shupe, in Brentwood. Fortunately, the storm didn’t cause any damage to David’s home or new system, and he was unaware he had lost grid power until he heard the neighbor’s generator running. Tesla batteries took over automatically and provided seamless power until the grid was restored 22 hours later.

“During the outage, we took in frozen perishables from my daughter’s household and two neighbors until we had no more freezer space,” David says. “We were so pleased with the timing and that we could run everything we needed,” he adds.

Tesla mobile app for solar and Tesla Powerwall
The Shupes were self-powered during the May 3-4 grid outage.

David can see each time the power goes out on the Tesla app, but otherwise he does not even notice. Lengthy power outages happen infrequently, so David’s primary reasons for adding a solar + Tesla Powerwall system go beyond a desire to have automatic backup power.

“We liked the idea of powering most of our home with solar, and we wanted to claim the federal tax credit before it dropped,” David explains.

LightWave Solar installed 18 rooftop solar panels (4.5kW) for the Shupes back in 2012, and David had wanted solar for environmental reasons, mainly to reduce coal consumption. He had seen firsthand the damage from coal mining and coal burning in east TN through his work with TN State Parks years ago.

Solar canopy for Brentwood TN home

This year LightWave installed a 5.4kW solar canopy and two Tesla Powerwall batteries, allowing the Shupes to rely much less on the grid and to use more of their own clean electricity.

“So far with the new system, our home is 92% powered by solar and batteries, and that includes charging up our electric Chevy Bolt,” David explains.

The Shupe’s latest NES electric bill dropped 95% compared to their April bill. In May they used only 30kWh from the grid which cost them $2.78!

Tesla’s mobile app shows battery status and reserve amount as well as home energy usage (blue) and energy source (yellow for solar, green for Powerwall and white for grid):

Tesla Powerwall energy app for solar

In addition to energy savings, the Shupes wanted to improve their backyard. The Shupes purchased a pergola kit made of western cedar, hired a local builder to put it together, and LightWave Solar installed 18 Lumos solar panels on top. Lumos solar panels allow some light to come through, and LightWave sealed them to provide a watertight shelter.

Solar patio Brentwood TN

“It’s a lovely spot to sit and enjoy our backyard when it’s sunny or rainy,” David says.

David also enjoyed having LightWave team members work at his home.

“LightWave was very accommodating and was able to figure out and execute the long and complicated conduit runs that our home required,” David explains. “I’m especially pleased they were able to integrate my first solar system so that it charges the batteries as well,” he adds.

When LightWave asked David what would he tell other homeowners who are interested in solar and batteries, he said, “It’s the future, and it’s time to jump in!”

Contact LightWave Solar about supplying your home with cleaner electricity every day and during power outages! Please submit your project info through our web form here.