Does solar keep the power on during a power outage

November 12, 2019 | 5min read

During a power outage, solar panels will not keep the electricity on unless equipped and configured to do so. To power a home when the power goes out, a solar system needs a special type of inverter that allows selected circuits in the home to be powered while the sun is shining. If you want to power the home when the sun isn’t shining, you will need to add home batteries. Adding home batteries to your solar is a promising long term solution to public safety power outages in California because these outages are expected to continue for the next ten years.

Why most grid-tied solar systems don’t power your home in a power outage

A grid-tied solar system connects to your home through its connection to the grid. That connection is at your electric meter. In the event of a loss of grid power, your solar system is designed to isolate itself from the grid. It does this so that it does not provide power to electrical transmission lines. Should those lines be under repair by power line crews, those crews could be electrocuted by the power from a solar system. Thus, the solar system isolating itself from the grid during blackouts is a necessary safety measure.

Solar power during power outages requires a special inverter

Some models of Inverter have extra power outlets that aren’t connected to the grid. You can draw some power from those power outlets during a blackout if the sun is shining. Keep in mind that because you are drawing all your power directly from the sun that the amount of power you get will vary throughout the day. In general, you’ll have the most power towards the middle of the day, and less power in the morning and afternoon. The direction your solar system faces will determine when it’s peak power output occurs.

Be ready for the next blackout with this blackout preparation guide

For more consistent power during a power outage, add batteries

Adding batteries to your system will provide more consistent power during a blackout. As long as they are charged, the batteries provide power to your home even when the sun doesn’t shine. The amount of power the batteries will provide to your home during a blackout is less than the amount of power that your home receives when powered by the grid. Thus, you will have to decide which circuits in your home should receive power during a blackout. You need to manage that power carefully. You’ll want to ensure that you have enough power to get through the night until the next day when the sun is shining strong enough to recharge your batteries. 

Batteries may help cut your utility bills in California

Did you know? During the day when your solar is sending power into the grid, California’s utilities are compensating you for that power at a lower rate than the rate they are charging you for power during the evening. That happens because currently, California’s three main utilities bill you for power using Time-of-Use (TOU) rates. With TOU rates, the time of day affects how much the utility company charges for power. The highest rates are charged from 4 PM to 9 PM in the evenings.

A grid-tied solar system with batteries is designed to power your home during those peak rates. The batteries are then recharged during the day from your solar system. This enables you to power your home normally during the day, and then power your home with your batteries during expensive peak rate hours. That can help you avoid paying those expensive peak rates.

Financial incentives may be available to help you afford batteries

Did you know? If you received the Federal Tax Credit for renewable energy that you could be eligible to collect it again if you add batteries to your solar system! Currently, the credit stands at 26% of the installed price of the batteries for your system. But keep in mind that the credit is phasing out. You would need to have your batteries installed by December 31st to receive the full 26% credit. If you wait till next year, the credit will be reduced to 22%. After that, it phases out entirely.

You should contact a qualified tax expert and consult with them. Neither Freedom Forever’s family of independent authorized dealers nor Freedom Forever itself can give you tax advice. A qualified tax professional will understand your situation and be able to give you the most relevant advice.

California Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP)

California offers a state-level incentive for installing batteries. The Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) offers an incentive of up to $400 per kilowatt-hour of installed battery capacity. The SGIP can significantly reduce the cost of installing batteries. Here’s an example of how it works:

Freedom Forever carries the LG Chem Cell 9.8 Kilowatt-hour home battery. If the full $400 SGIP credit per kilowatt-hour is received, it would currently equate to a credit of $3,920 per battery. The value of the credit will be reduced as more and more battery capacity is installed. To get the most value out of the SGIP credit, it pays to install as soon as possible.

Freedom Forever is ready to help you power your home, now and in the future

Given the fact that public safety power outages are going to be with us in California for years, the future of electric power reliability is looking quite uncertain. It pays to install home batteries as soon as possible. They can provide power to your home in a blackout. They can also help you avoid paying peak evening ToU rates. Add to that potential savings from the federal tax credit and from the SGIP, and you can see that batteries make a lot of sense. Freedom Forever stands ready to help you ensure a secure future for your electrical power needs in California

Ready to go solar? Need to know more about batteries? Call us at 800-685-1850 or click below to get started.