Coming Soon to Southern California: Rolling Blackouts

Every summer has its own story. For residents of Southern California, this summer’s story is going to include a chapter about rolling blackouts. The L.A. Times wrote the prequel earlier this month. To summarize, the natural gas leak this winter at the Aliso Canyon Underground Storage Facility has left Southern California short on natural gas, which means that, come summer, the region’s utilities could be unable to generate enough electricity to meet demand. To prevent the entire grid from, power managers will institute rolling blackouts by cutting electricity to certain individual sectors of the grid at moments of peak demand.

To many, the possibility of a blackout seems quaint. Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional candlelit dinner? And what parent doesn’t wish their kids would watch less television? The reality of blackouts, however, is deadly serious. Electricity provides us with more than just entertainment. We depend on it to, among other things, refrigerate our food, power hospital equipment, and illuminate traffic signals. We hardly notice it when it’s there, but without electricity are lives are much less safe.

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Now Introducing… Solar-powered Whole House Fans!

Not really. The headline above is a little tongue-in-cheek. Readers of this blog will know our fans are designed to be run at night, when cool outdoor temperatures can be drawn indoors. Since photovoltaic cells can’t generate electricity at night, directly powering a whole house fan with solar generated electricity isn’t possible—unless, of course, one wants to run their fan during the day, which would heat the home rather than cool it!

We do, however, frequently receive calls from homeowners wanting to know if they can run a whole house fan directly off of their home solar array. We wish they could. Because they’re a more efficient substitute for mechanical air conditioning, whole house fans greatly compliment solar by reducing the size of array needed to provide the same cooling. But again, photovoltaics don’t work at night.

To operate a whole house fan with electricity generated by a solar array, homeowners need some sort of energy storage device that would allow them to store electricity they generate but do not use during the day. Then, this stored electricity could be drawn down through the night to power the whole house fan.

In short, they need a battery—which is why we’ve followed Tesla’s recent announcement of their new Powerwall home battery system with great interest. Home battery systems have been available for some time now. But they have never been as prominent in the popular discourse as they are now, makings this the ideal moment for a blog post “back of the envelope” analysis about using a home battery to operate an AirScape fan.

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Our solar install continues weather permitting (a Southern Oregon winter is a rainy mess) Between rain showers we were able to complete the second phase of construction.


A steel upright being moved into position


The cement truck getting ready to pour cement into the footings


The concrete cured, forms removed, and the steel uprights waiting for the next phase of construction


PART 1 / PART 2 /



We thought we would share some pictures of our new solar installation here at AirScape HQ. We chose a site on an unused corner of the property that is perfectly situated for our solar install . The site was cleared of a massive blackberry bush so that work could begin. Blackberries are an invasive species here in Oregon so we didn’t feel too bad about removing them even though they were so delicious. We’ll put up more pictures as the work continues.

The site cleared and holes dug for the footings


The footing forms in place and the trenches dug for the electrical conduit


BONUS PIC: The stalk of the giant blackberry bush (1″ across for reference)


PART 1 / PART 2 /