What Happens If You Have Solar And The Power Goes Out
So youve got some shiny solar panels on your roof and youre making a lot of your own electricity. Your power bills are nearly eliminated and youre feeling like an environmental champion. Then one windy night, a storm blows down a huge tree on your block and the power goes out. When the morning sun shines over the horizon, will your refrigerator be running? Probably not.
If you have solar panels on your roof, youre most likely connected to the electric grid in your area. That means you draw power from the utility company at night, and when your panels cant make as much energy as you need at any given time. You also send power to the grid when your panels produce more than you need.
When the power goes out, most home solar installations are designed to shut down in order to stop them from feeding power back into the very wires that might be the source of the outage. After all, you dont want your solar panels to be the reason utility workers are injured by live voltage in downed power lines.
But what good are solar panels on a roof if they cant make electricity? Theres got to be a way to keep the power on, right? What about batteries, or preventing solar energy from flowing to the grid when its down? Read on to discover the answers to these questions.
You May Be Eligible For Incentives
Through the Self-Generation Incentive Program , PG& E provides incentives when you install a battery storage system and offers increased incentives if you are more vulnerable during power outages . Incentives can cover up to the full cost of a battery if you live in a High Fire-Threat District or have been shut off in a PSPS event more than two times AND meet one of the following eligibility criteria:
- Have incentives reserved in the income-qualified solar programs
- Use medical life support equipment
- Meet income-qualified eligibility standards
Is Backup Power Worth It
The majority of our grid-tied customers dont add backup power to their systems for a very simple reason: its expensive.
Backup power packages cost several thousand dollars, and in many places, power outages are rare enough that it doesnt make any sense to add backup power. Most people simply buy candles or a flashlight and wait it out.
But thats not to dissuade people who really need it.
If you live in a place with an unreliable power grid, or a harsh climate where winter storms can knock out grid power for extended periods of time, backup power starts to look a lot more appealing.
It can also make sense if you need to keep an essential appliance online at all times, like a well pump or a piece of critical medical equipment.
And in our home state of California, many customers are retrofitting existing systems with battery backup after PG& E announced scheduled blackouts to stabilize a power grid that was impacted by one of the worst wildfire seasons in history. With blackouts looming, roughly 20% of new systems deployed in California are equipped with backup power.
If power outages are uncommon where you live, it doesnt make much sense to include a battery bank with your grid-tied system. But under the right circumstances, the peace of mind is well worth the investment.
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Battery Backup With A Grid
Installing a solar battery while still connected to the utility system gives you the best of both worlds. As long as your utility company is able to supply power to your home, youll continue to use them as a backup source for power. But if your connection to the grid is cut off during a black out, your home will switch over to your solar battery, and youll experience no loss in electricity in your home.
No matter which option you choose, adding solar batteries to your solar system has a number of benefits, including:
Will Solar Panels Work After An Emp
EMP is short for Electro Magnetic Pulse and can occur in 3 ways:
- as a result of a nuclear explosion
- as a result of a solar flare from the sun
- deliberate generation by a device called an NNEMP.
Wherever or however an EMP comes from, depending on the size of it, the effect on electrical and electronic equipment is devastating, basically destroying it.
The solar cells themselves are in fact semi-conductor device, that is, its basically a P-N junction and so will be affected. However, scientists estimate that the actual production capacity of solar panel would only reduce by up to 10%, which is encouraging.
Now for the bad news depending on the EMP proximity, the electronic control equipment and associated cabling would most probably be fried.
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Answered: Will My Solar Panels Work During A Power Outage
A common question that comes up when homeowners consider investing in solar power is whether the solar panels can double up as a power backup during a power cut or not.
After all, solar power depends on the sunlight, right? Shouldnt it work even if the grid has no power?
The answer, unfortunately, is no. There is a workaround, but it takes some additional effort to make it work.
But why do solar panels not work during power outages? Lets find out.
How To Protect Electronic Equipment From An Emp
Solar panels should be disconnected from each other and any junction boxes. Everything should be disconnected from the grid and put inside a Faraday cage, or bag for smaller devices. A Faraday cage shields devices from electromagnetic fields and is the quickest way to protect your solar inverter and other essential equipment.
Once the EMP danger is past, you should be able to re-connect your system and enjoy up to 90% of the previous capacity. Those around you with no solar, or unprotected solar, will have no electricity.
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How Do Solar Panels Work During A Power Outage
Unless you have an off-grid solar system, homes with solar installations are designed to turn off whenever the power goes out. This prevents solar energy from being fed back into the wires that caused the outage in the first place to protect workers working on the lines.
Think about it this way. Lets assume that downed power lines caused the power outage because of natural disasters. Then, if your solar energy is still flowing into those downed wires, utility company workers can be injured due to the live voltage whenever they try to fix the power lines for the rest of the community.
Although it certainly is annoying to have to deal with a power outage when you have paid for a solar system, the last thing you want is to injure a utility worker just trying to do their job helping the community. Thus, solar panels turn off when there is a blackout to protect the grid and workers.
How To Prepare For An Upcoming Power Outage
Preparing for the next power outage is not as daunting a task if youre prepared with an up-to-date solar panel system.
Before any outages happen, its best to take care of your panels and their connection points by inspecting them regularly. If there are no problems, go ahead and charge all batteries in advance while you have full sunlight. This will help avoid potential issues during blackouts when battery capacity may be reduced from sustained use overtime without replenishment charges or other energy sources available to maintain the load.
It is also important to check that each device has its own backup supply such as an emergency generator or inverter so they can function independently until power returns on its own accord . The inverter that turns your batteries into usable electricity should be set up on an elevated surface so it cant flood if water levels rise due to high winds and rain from thunderstorms. Make sure there is no standing water near any of these components after heavy rainfall!
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Power Through Blackouts With A Solar Battery
Power through blackouts with a clean, reliable solar battery like Brightbox and take control of your energy storage. By diverting the excess solar energy your panels create to your battery and backup panel, you can power essential appliances and the most important rooms in your home.
While a generator sometimes offers a temporary solution in the face of a blackout, it runs on dirty fossil fuels, can be disruptive and at worst dangerous.4 Brightbox makes energy independence safe, simple and hassle-free. You also have the freedom to choose what and how much you want to backup in case of an outage.
Brightbox is more than just solar battery storageits a holistic service that puts the power in your hands. Our Solar Guarantee comes with 24/7 monitoring and maintenance so you wont be left in the dark.
Off Grid Solar Power Systems For Homes
The first option is to forego a connection to the grid entirely with an off grid system. How long does a solar battery last? is a common question we get from homeowners considering this set up.
While the answer varies depending on the battery, your average battery capacity is around 10 kilowatt-hours. Depending on your houses daily energy consumption, you likely wont be able to do this with a single solar battery, and would need a multiple battery bank that will account for nights and days when your panels arent generating much new solar power.
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Does Solar Work When The Power Is Out
There are two reasons that ordinary grid-tied solar will not work during a grid failure. The first is a technical reason and the second is a safety and regulatory issue.
First and foremost is the technical reason.
The electronics that control a solar system constantly adjust voltage and current to keep the panels operating efficiently as the sunlight changes. To do this, the system produces quantities of power that arent dependent on how much your house is actually using in a given moment. In a grid-connected system, any excess power is put back onto the grid for others to use, and your utility credits you on your bill for that power.
Solar power output varies directly with sunlight levels. So, even if you disregard the need for efficiency, connecting this variable resource directly to your homes electrical system would cause your lights to blink, damage your refrigerator, and wreak havoc on your computers and television.
The second reason that solar shuts down during a blackout is safety.
Batteries Store Excess Power From Your Solar Panels
With Sunrun Brightbox you generate, store and manage renewable power from the sun, on your own terms. Brightbox allows you to store the electricity your solar panels produce during the day, and use it when you need it most.
Get connected with one of our expert Solar Advisors and receive a complimentary solar quote that is specific to your energy needs. Were here to help you every step of the way.
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Power Outages Are Increasing At An Alarming Rate
The United States leads all developed nations in power outages and blackouts,5 affecting millions of people6 in the path of severe storms, wildfires, and heat waves. On the East Coast, high winds at 60 mph winds cut power to more than 1 million customers and toppled 4,000 power lines. On the West Coast, a raging fire in California forced utility companies to shut off electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes.7
Power companies are now preemptively shutting down the utility grid because they anticipate a blackout. For example, news outlets up and down California are reporting that utilities are planning on voluntarily shutting down power. If wildfires, heat waves or customer demand is too much for the grid to handle, utilities want the authority to turn off the power that feeds our homes.8
How Is Maintenance And Repair Handled
Its important to discuss the maintenance of the battery with your storage provider before signing a contract. Maintenance and repair are typically included in the purchase or lease contract.
The management software included with each battery storage system may include round-the-clock remote monitoring and performance adjustment. In the case of hardware failure, some battery companies receive automatic notifications and can send technicians out to addresses problems. We recommend that you check your maintenance contract for these types of services.
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Determine Your Primary Energy Goal
We recommend talking with your storage provider about sizing and programming the battery to meet your energy goal:
- You can use your battery to provide backup power for your essential electrical needs and/or medical equipment during power outages.
- You can shift your use of grid energy to lower-price times of day to see bill savings.
- If you have your own home solar system you can also:
- Capture your solar energy and use it later to power your home.
- Send excess renewable energy back to the grid during more expensive peak times to see more bill savings.
Advantages Of Using A Battery
Also referred to as a hybrid solar system, the battery-backed solar panel system features some unique benefits such as
Economical than the off-grid solar panel system
Compared to the off-grid system, the hybrid solar panel system is highly affordable when installing and maintenance. When using this system, you will not require a backup generator, and you can also reduce the size of your battery.
It is much promising.
Even though not most homes are equipped with a hybrid system, it features a lot of potentials. It is by far one of the best transition systems to smart grids of the future.
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Solar Battery Backup System: Do I Need One
The simple answer is yes. In fact, in this most recent weather catastrophe, Austin Energy recommended homeowners switch to backup power. These days, being connected to the grid isnt enough. Having solar installed also isnt enough when disaster strikes. The only thing that can truly protect you and your homes energy is a home battery backup system like the Tesla Powerwall.
Why Solar Energy is More Important Than Ever
Solar panels are a great way to take control of your home energy. Its the reason why solar energy has grown 35-fold to an estimated 62.5 gigawatts today. This is enough capacity to power the equivalent of 12 million average American homes. And Wood Mackenzie forecasts that there will be 3 million installations in 2021 and 4 million in 2023, continuing the swift rise of solar .
One of the growing reasons homeowners are switching to solar over fossil fuels is due to the increasing instability in the electric grid. People are starting to lose faith in their electrical system and take these tiny actions toward making something like energy security for themselves .
The reason for this is simple: natural disasters are increasing at an alarming rate and the old utility grid is producing more power outages than ever before. With the U.S. leading in more power outages than any other developed nation.
The Role Of Energy Storage And Solar
In addition to an inverter, homeowners who truly want to thrive off the grid typically install some sort of energy storage system. These are battery storage units that back up your PV system and store power that you can use as needed.
How much power an ES system provides depends on the capacity of the batteries. You can create a setup that powers your entire home for a predetermined amount of time or one that just provides interim power for essential appliances, Glaser says. “The primary limitation here is budget, he explains. “Bigger backup systems are more expensive.”
When you need the power, though, an ES system is invaluable. Most ES systems automatically kick-on when the grid goes down, and the transition is often so seamless that homeowners may not even notice theyve shifted power sources.
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How Can Prospect Solar Help
The experts at Prospect Solar are adept at solar panel installation in Northern VA, DC and Maryland. We provide solar energy installation for homes, businesses and farms. Additionally, we provide services like Green Roof Integrated Photovoltaic and information on Community Solar.
As leading solar providers in Northern VA, DC and Maryland, we take pride in our residential solar energy installation services. We aim to install a solar energy system that provides both clean energy and a decreased cost. Prospect Solars solar panel installation for Northern VA and beyond is engineered to be less expensive over the course of 25 years than conventional energy would be in that 25-year span.
Additionally, our solar energy services give homeowners access to net metering. Net metering makes it possible to credit power and reduce monthly electrical costs.
Although your solar panel system will not function during the rare power outage, solar panel installation is overall a lucrative investment that not only helps cut down your energy costs but helps promote a greener planet.
Solar Panels And Power Outages: What You Need To Know
When disaster strikes, alternative power sources like solar can keep your power on even when the grid goes down. Solar panels alone arent enough: youll need a backup battery storage to stay powered. Lets find out why and everything you need to know about solar when the power goes out in your neighborhood.
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