Do Solar Panels Work During a Power Outage?


Blackouts and Power Outages

When the lights do go out, the problem often lies outside of your photovoltaic system. Power outages can happen for a number of reasons—from weather damaging power lines to problems at power plants leading to widespread blackouts lasting hours, days, or weeks. 


In situations where an outage lasts for more than a few hours, the best hope for any house connected to the utility grid is a battery-charged portable power station or a generator—which can be gas-powered or solar. These work well to restore electricity to the home in short bursts to keep temperatures within a safe range, allow plumbing to function, and keep the refrigerator and freezer cold enough to ensure food doesn’t spoil. However, these are short-term solutions. If an outage stretches longer than a day or so, problems can begin to mount, particularly if access to supplies becomes limited. 


But what if your home is solar-powered? One of the main benefits of switching to solar power is reducing or possibly eliminating your reliance on the power grid. However, this still leaves the question of what to expect from your system when the grid goes down. How does solar hold up during a blackout? Do solar panels work during a power outage and what are your options for keeping the lights on when everything else goes dark?

Do Solar Panels Work During a Power Outage?

The simplest answer to this question is no. A standard solar system connected to the utility grid will go down when the grid is down. This is because a live electrical connection during an outage would be hazardous for workmen when making repairs on electrical systems and powerlines. To protect their safety, any grid-tied system is designed to shut down when there is an outage. 


Blue Raven Solar installs all of its systems on the grid because it is almost always the most energy and cost-efficient way to power a home. However, this doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to completely losing power any time the grid goes down. 


As we noted above, a gas or solar generator is an affordable option, lasting for a few hours. But it’s important to know these generators can damage your solar system if both are running simultaneously. If you opt to keep a generator on hand in case of a power outage, consider having it professionally set up to avoid causing long-term problems to your rooftop solar panel system. 


If you’re looking for an option which works better with your solar panels, there is a way to keep consistent power to your home in the event of a blackout—and it’s as simple as installing a battery.

Batteries and Other Home Storage Systems

Normally, when a grid-tied system generates more electricity than the home needs, the excess energy is sent back into the utility grid and used by someone else. However, instead of sending excess energy to the grid, you can store it in batteries, providing backup power when your home’s energy usage exceeds solar energy production. 


With a solar battery, your system will detect the power outage and disconnect from the grid, automatically switching to battery power. Your battery will continue to recharge as normal as long as power usage doesn’t exceed solar intake. With a solar panel array designed to meet or exceed your home’s energy needs, this setup will ensure your home has power through a blackout. 


Though solar battery storage is the most common solution offered by Blue Raven Solar, there may be additional options available in your area. Ask your solar expert about the best home storage solution available to you.


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