The journey began with the acquisition of Pika Energy, basically the original developer of PWRcell and a home energy monitoring equipment manufacturer, Neurio by Generac. With the combination of technology from acquired companies and 60 years of experience in generator making, Generac started manufacturing PWRcell. So, if you are planning to get a Generac PWRcell this article is for you. Come find out about how does Generac PWRcell work. But not just this because I know some people may wonder Can Generac PWRcell be AC coupled? So, with the answer to this, you will also learn about the chemistry of Generac PWRcell and its components along with the features of PWRcell 9 kWh basics package.
What is a Generac PWRcell?
PWRcell is a solar battery backup by one of the most trusted American brands, Generac which is known for its backup generators. PWRcell batteries are capable of delivering 12,000 watts of surge power that can start heavy-duty appliances like air conditioners and water pumps. You can install a Generac PWRcell alongside a new or existing solar power system.
How Does Generac PWRcell Work?
Now that you know what actually is a Generac PWRcell let me explain how it works. PWRcell is designed to provide backup power in times when there is no power supply from the grid and also to avoid costly peak energy charges. Power generated by solar panels is stored in PWRcell and supplied to loads when needed but do mistake it to be the same as other home solar batteries.
1. Working of SnapRS
If PWRcell is installed alongside SnapRS rapid shutdown devices and PV Link optimizers, the battery gets charged by DC power sent from panels. This feature makes it more efficient than its competitors. This is known as the DC-coupled method and before the introduction of Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) by Generac this was the only supported method to install PWRcell.
2. Working of Automatic Transfer Switch
Installation with Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) allows PWRcell to be installed as an AC-coupled battery and gets charged from the existing solar inverter in the solar power system. Here it needs to be mentioned that AC coupled setup requires a full M6 battery module that supplies 18 kWh storage. PWRcell can also work with a connection to Generac fossil fuel generators.
Note: We do not recommend using any fossil fuel devices. It solely depends on your requirement and choice.
ATS control the flow of power supplied to the house and their function is to supply power to the grid, appliances, and PWRcell battery. It decides where and how much power should be supplied considering the power needed at that time. During a power outage, ATS isolates the battery and solar panels but allows them to work independently by turning on islanding mode. Up to 4 HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) units can alternatively be powered with an ATS without overloading or over-exhausting your solar inverter.
3. Working of PWRcell Battery with PWRcell Inverter
Next device in how does Generac PWRcell work are Generac PWRcell inverters. They are designed for residential applications in on-grid with power supply from the grid or islanding mode when the grid is down. Generac inverters are provided with one of the several modes along with backup power, time of use, self-supply, and zero export.
4. Working of Optional Components
1) Smart Management Modules
They are on/off circuit switches responsible for handling the amount of power required as a priority. Installed in-line thus, they do not need external power or communication and circuits are turned on/off once SMM receives a power line signal from the PWRcell inverter. SMM basically informs the inverter to check whether it can power that certain device. If a high-priority device (like a water pump or such) is already running, SMM will not power the new device as it is considered to be of low priority.
Thus, all devices will be powered at the right time enabling smooth functioning and power supply from the inverter to all devices.
This recent innovation by Generac is an advanced load management device. Essentially, it works by cutting off selective loads and preventing excess power withdrawal from batteries. This way PWRcell is able to provide power backup to different household devices. PWRmanager is connected with a mobile PWRview app that enables you to individually turn circuits on/off.
3) Sure-Start HVAC Soft Start Box
It is particularly designed to reduce the amount of start-up power required by air conditioner compressors. It allows the PWRcell system to run continuously and power essential devices as an air conditioner starts. This is done through its functionality of reducing peak power consumption. A 3-ton Air Conditioner is set to Priority 2 and allowed to run when the water pump (priority 1) is not in use. This way other devices or appliances have set priority mostly based on the power they draw from the inverter to start. Now after understanding how does Generac PWRcell work, let us move on to what is the chemistry of a Generac PWRcell battery and what type of battery is Generac PWRcell.
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What is the Chemistry of a Generac PWRcell Battery? What Type of Battery is Generac PWRcell?
From a design standpoint, its unique modular design allows a customizable battery configuration with a battery cabinet. It can store up to 6 batteries of the same wattage to increase storage capacity. It contains lithium-ion batteries with 9, 12, 15, and 18 kWh of power. Considering the chemistry or working of a PWRcell battery is the same as other batteries the only difference being its designs.
- PWRcell M3 – 9 kWh with 3 battery modules
- PWRcell M4 – 12 kWh with 4 battery modules
- PWRcell M5 – 15 kWh with 5 battery modules
- PWRcell M6 – 18 kWh with 6 battery modules
Also See: What is Battery Energy Capacity?
What is Generac PWRcell Components?
If installed alongside a new solar power system, the main Generac PWRcell components are as follows:
1. PV Link Substring Power Optimizers
Pika Energy initially developed PV Links to integrate it with these strings to join one panel to another and carry the combined current generated by all panels in an array. These optimizers are attached to a short string of panels up to 2500W and an inverter, ensuring DC power is delivered from panels to inverters as soon as panel output reaches about 60 volts.
2. SnapRS Inline Disconnect Switches
These are placed between each solar panel to allow rapid shutdown in case of emergency like fire or fixing of roof or panels. The shutdown is usually within 10 seconds and rapid shutdown is a fire core requirement of the solar system.
3. PWRcell Battery Module (Cabinets)
These are the cabinets used to store battery modules to keep them safe. They are specially designed cabinets.
4. PWRcell Solar Islanding Inverter
This device connects everything together, enabling a smooth flow of DC current from the panel to the inverter and battery. Then supply AC current from the inverter and battery to house the electric panel. It is interesting to understand components after learning about how does Generac PWRcell work. Two models available for inverter are as follows:
- X11402 – With an on-grid connection it provides 11,400 W 3-phase AC power.
- X7602 – When connected to the grid it provides up to 7,600 W single-phase alternating current (AC) power.
With a connection to an 18-kWh PWRcell battery, both inverters are capable of accepting up to 30A at 420 Volts DC from solar panels and provide a continuous output of 9,000 W in islanding mode. You can start a motor with these inverters as they can deliver up to 12,000 W.
However, PWRcell battery and inverter are easily established with the pre-installed solar system and are capable of receiving about 7.6 kW of solar power. In the case of existing solar power systems, you need to do AC coupling that includes the following components which are also known as optional components.
5. Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS)
This device is connected between the PWRcell inverter and the main panel to allow power from the inverter to be used by the existing solar inverter. This way existing solar inverters can power the house as well as charge the PWRcell battery. The time taken to charge the battery depends on the state of the battery charge and how much power is required by the house. ATS allows an inverter to manage up to 4 HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) units by turning them on/off alternatively to prevent the inverter from overloading.
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It is termed an advanced load management device and this single box can replace several SMM boxes. This device provides a centralized automatic load management solution, but its primary function is to shut down selective loads to prevent the withdrawal of current from the battery.
With optional components, power for the entire household can be supplied from a single battery backup in case of a grid outage. So, this is how does Generac PWRcell work in coordination with its components.
7. Smart Management Modules (SMMs)
These are small boxes equipped with hardware to turn on/off on the basis of how much is required to keep it powered.
8. Sure-Start HVAC Soft Start Box
This equipment is particularly designed to reduce the load required by the air conditioner compressor to start.
Can Generac PWRcell Be AC Coupled?
Yes, Generac PWRcell can be AC coupled. With Automatic Transfer Switches it is now possible for Generac PWRcell to be AC coupled. The term AC coupled means to accept Alternating Current from inverters whereas DC coupled means the device accepts only Direct Current coming from solar panels. So, with an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS), your PWRcell can be charged from the solar inverter.
Also See: What is a Circuit?
What is Generac PWRcell 9kwh Basics Package Features?
It is the standard Generic PWRcell system that has 3 battery modules, providing 9 kWh of storage capacity. A 9-kWh package has 1 PWRcell inverter, 1 battery storage cabinet, and 3 Lithium-ion Battery modules. Generac PWRcell 9kwh Basics Package has the following features.
- 1 Single Phase 60 Hz Inverter with specifications of 7.6 kW, 1 pH, 120/240V along with 300A CTS (Split-type AC current sensor)
- 1 indoor-rated battery cabinet
- 3 Generac PWRcell 3.0 kWh DCB EX Battery Modules
- 1 Generac PWRcell Spacer Kit
- 1 300-Amp Universal Current Transformer (CTS)
- Paired with a Web Portal or Mobile App to monitor energy usage with solar and battery usage displayed on a separate dashboard.
Also See: What is Battery Management System?
Other features of a 9 kWh PWRcell are as follows:
- CANbus®, Rebus®, and Ethernet communication interfaces are supported.
- The unit can operate in different modes like grid sell, grid support-zero expert, islanding mode, self-consumption, and prioritized charging from renewable mode.
- It can power your essential household items plus lower your utility bills. It feeds excess power into the grid to generate extra revenue for the owner.
- As per specific energy requirements, PWRcell Battery Cabinet can be configured
- Inverter operates at <40% Total harmonic distortion (THD), giving optimum performances even in climates with temperatures ranging between -4° and 122° Fahrenheit (-20° to 50° Celsius).
- Certification standards of UL 1741 SA, UL 1998, and CSA 22.2 are met, and it is also listed in Edison Testing Laboratories (ETL) and cETL.
So, how does Generac PWRcell work? I guess now you have perfectly understood its work. Yes, I know it works just like a usual battery storage system used in solar power systems, but it is backed with its own intelligent and innovative devices. These devices handle circuits based on their priority and then supply power. With a Generac PWRcell, you can rest assured that your inverter is not getting exhausted unnecessarily. Can Generac PWRcell be AC coupled? Yes, with ATS you can convert it to AC coupled, but the list does not end here as its main and optional components perform with great precision. Do you have a PWRcell? We would love to hear your reviews on the same and since we are on the topic consider sharing the info to spread the word.
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