Can Solar Panels Power a House During a Power Outage

Can solar panels power a house during a power outage? What does solar power mean to you? Is it about saving the environment, saving money, or perhaps gaining independence from an electric utility? Solar panels offer the ability to generate your own sustainable electricity for free. While most solar panels in the United States are still connected to the grid, they provide an opportunity to harness clean, renewable energy.

With a grid-tied setup, you can generate clean, free energy. Many states also offer policies like Net Metering, providing “free electricity” storage. However, grid-tied solar systems must follow utility rules, meaning you won’t have electricity during a grid failure unless your system has a battery backup.

In short, solar panels cannot provide electricity during a power cut unless your system has energy storage or you choose an off-grid solution over grid-tied solar.

What is the Difference Between Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar?

The electric grid is the system your utility uses to generate and distribute electricity. If you install a grid-tied solar system, you’ll be connected to this grid. When your solar system isn’t producing energy, you can draw power from the grid through your utility. This setup, common in many states, is known as net metering.

On the other hand, off-grid systems are not connected to the utility network. With these systems, your only source of electricity is what’s generated by your solar panels and stored in batteries, or by an on-site generator. This setup ensures you can still power your home or business even if the grid fails.

While solar energy systems are installed to save electricity, they’re not meant to be a complete source of power. Grid-tied solar is popular for its savings and reliability, but it also means most solar systems in the US won’t generate electricity if the grid fails.

Can Solar Panels Power a House During a Power Outage?

When the power goes off, you will lose power too if you don’t have a backup power system. The U.S. Electrical Code requires a rapid shutdown of solar systems to protect emergency workers and to prevent dangerous back feed from flowing onto distribution lines.

You can keep your power running during a blackout by using a Solar Inverter. It disconnects your home’s power from the grid. For longer blackouts, you can rely on a generator or batteries. You can create your own “island” – a small home with solar panels and storage batteries.

Can Solar Panels Power a House During a Power Outage


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Why Won’t My Solar Panels Work during a Power Outage?

Solar systems can indeed generate free electricity when installed correctly. However, during a grid failure, this free electricity cannot be used in your home or business due to the way a grid-tied system functions.

Here’s how it works: when sunlight hits the solar panels, they generate electricity. This electricity is then directed through an inverter to power your appliances or other electrical devices. If your panels produce more electricity than you need, the excess is sent back to the grid.

However, when the grid goes down and you’re still sending excess power to the grid, it creates a safety issue. Utility workers may be working on the power lines to restore electricity in the area, and the assumption is that the lines are not live. If excess power from solar systems continues to flow into these lines, it could pose a serious risk to the workers.

To prevent such accidents, all grid-tied inverters are designed to automatically shut off when the grid power is cut. This is done to protect both utility workers and the integrity of the grid.

How to Use Solar Panels During a Power Outage

Solar energy can indeed provide power during electricity outages through two main methods: installing an off-grid solar system or integrating energy storage solutions like batteries.

Off-Grid Solar Systems

Batteries are super important for off-grid solar setups. They need to be big enough to store plenty of energy to last through nights and cloudy days. But they can be pricey, more so than solar systems connected to the grid. For most homes and businesses, off-grid solar might not be the best money-wise. If your solar setup doesn’t produce enough electricity or if you run out of stored energy, you can’t rely on the grid.

But going off-grid does have its perks. You’re completely independent when it comes to energy. Even if the grid goes down, you can still use your system. Off-grid solar is perfect for places where there’s no access to the grid, like remote cabins. If you own a cabin out in the boonies, investing in an off-grid solar system might be a smart move.

Battery-Backed Solar Systems

Solar panels are usually more cost-effective when they’re connected to the grid. Adding an energy storage system lets you have backup power if the grid goes down. This backup is cheaper because you won’t need as many batteries.

By installing one or two solar batteries, you can store extra energy from your solar panels. Then, you can use that power during a grid failure.

But it’s crucial to know the limits of a battery backup. Even though solar batteries are getting more common and cheaper, they’re still pricey. They can really hike up the cost of a solar system. For example, a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion battery, including installation, could set you back $15,000 before any incentives.

Many solar experts recommend only powering essential items with batteries. These might include things like emergency lights, medical devices, fridges, or personal gadgets and chargers. Setting up enough battery power to keep your home or office running normally for a few days could be too expensive for many people. This guide can help you figure out how many batteries you need.

If you need backup power but don’t want to invest in batteries, backup generators can be a cheaper option. You can keep your place running for just a few hundred or thousand dollars by buying one at a local hardware store. These generators usually run on fossil fuels, which aren’t renewable and can be hard to find during disasters or emergencies.

To cut costs while still having backup power, you might think about combining solar batteries with a gas-powered generator.

Discover Your Solar Solution with ESD Solar

Ready to tap into solar power? At ESD Solar, we’re here to help you discover the perfect solar panels for your house or business during a power outage . Our team of experts is dedicated to designing and installing high-quality solar systems that fit your needs. Whether you want to cut down on energy costs, shrink your carbon footprint, or gain independence from the grid, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take the first step toward a brighter future together. 

Get in touch with us today to learn how solar energy can make a difference for you.



CONTACT US AT (800) 425 1175

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