By Samantha J. Majka
The severe weather this weekend left hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity, and efforts to restore power are still underway. Many homeowners with solar power may find their neighbors asking them whether or not they still have power, or prospective solar power customers may be wondering if switching to solar would prevent blackouts in their home.
Will my solar panels generate power during an outage?
The solar panels installed on your roof or on your property will certainly continue to generate electricity because they will absorb sunlight and solar energy as they do every day.
Will my home be immune to neighborhood power outages?
This depends on the set-up of your particular system. The majority of solar powered homes are still connected to the power grid, which is how net-metering works. When solar panels produce electricity, it flows into the grid, and the production is monitored and credited to a homeowner’s account (this is when your meter will roll backward). This is how excess electricity is stored, and it is how a home that may not be 100% powered by solar panels maintains power. Being connected to the grid means that the power supplied by the solar panels on your home flows back into the electrical grid.
You will notice that the majority of times, power outages are due to a disruption somewhere between the electricity supplier, and homeowners. For example, during the most recent storm on the east coast, power lines were snapped by high winds or downed trees. The power plant may still be fully capable of producing electricity, but there is a breach in the system (such as a broken power line) that prevents the supply from reaching the consumer, and it affects every consumer in that service area. Solar powered homes that are connected to the grid contribute to the production of electricity, but are not immune to blackouts that affect the entire community.
However, if you store the power generated on-site, you reduce the risk of a blackout. Doing so requires the installation of a battery backup system. This requires battery storage onsite, and is more costly than the typical net-metering approach, but it does mean that your home will continue to run on electricity even when the rest of the neighborhood does not.
If your home is connected only to the battery backup system, and is independent of the grid, your solar panels must be capable of meeting all energy needs of the home, 100% of the time; being disconnected from the grid means that there will be no backup option if the solar-generated electricity is depleted.
For a more detailed explanation of the available options, and to see which solution is right for you, contact a Solar Energy World representative, today!