Solar During a Power Outage: How It Works

Solar During a Power Outage

When you install a solar energy system, you might expect that the lights will stay on when the power goes out because you’re generating your own power. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.  

With grid tied solar systems, any excess power you create will be stored in the utility grid. The grid is sort of like a big battery, you send power to it when you have excess and take energy from it when you need more. Because of this connection, when grid power goes out – so does yours. This keeps electricity from leaking onto the grid lines and putting folks working to correct the issue in harm’s way.  

To get power during a grid blackout, you will need a grid tied solar system with battery backup. When the grid is up and working, the system functions like a normal grid tied solar system. Some of the electricity your solar system produces will top off your batteries. In the case of grid failure, the batteries kick in to keep the lights on.  

A solar system with battery backup costs more than your traditional grid tied solar system but having power during a blackout can be invaluable to some. Any home that already has solar panels, is battery backup ready.  

You are a good candidate for a backup battery system if you: 

  • Want to know that you will have seamless energy when the grid is down  
  • Experience frequent power outages 
  • Experience extreme weather conditions 
  • Have critical appliances at your home 

Power Outages Becoming Increasingly Common

Unfortunately, we’re seeing power outages becoming more common place as more and more people are in the path of severe weather patterns. In some places power companies are preemptively shutting down the grid when they anticipate a blackout.  

The good news is that there are solutions to grid failures through battery and solar battery storage.  

Tesla Powerwall: Home Battery Storage  

Powerwall is a home battery system that turns your home’s solar panels into an all-day resource. Daily it increases your self-consumption of solar. In the event of an outage, it offers reliable home backup power. With Powerwall, more of your home’s electricity use will come from solar, which enhances solar functionality, reduces energy costs and provides peace of mind to homeowners.  

Powerwall allows you to store 14 kWh of energy and use that energy to run your home with solar during the night and back up your home in the event of a power outage. 

The technology withing Powerwall is able to detect a grid outage, disconnect from the grid and bring power back to your home in a fraction of a second. That is over 100x faster than typical standby generators, and fast enough to keep your appliances running without interruption. You will not have to reset your clocks or your alarm. Powerwall can provide backup to your entire home. However, depending on the type of appliances at your home, we may recommend an essential load backup instead of whole home backup. Read more about Tesla here. 

Right Sizing Your Backup System:

Whole Home Backup 

If you’re interested in whole home backup, our Solar Designers can analyze your homes electric use patterns and the recommended number of Powerwall’s needed to keep all loads running. In some cases, an upgrade to your electrical panel may be needed and we will advise you if this is the case. You can add more Powerwall’s to keep your house operational longer during an outage. 

Essential Load Backup  

If your electrical situation doesn’t require whole home backup, we can backup select essential loads. Since lights and outlets require less energy, a single Powerwall will typically be enough.  

 

In summary, during a grid blackout, power from your solar system won’t be available for you to use unless you have a backup battery system. If you’re interested to learn more about solar or battery back-up, give us a call today! 1-877-OWN-SOLAR.