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Can Solar Panels Protect against Power Outages?

During a power outage (both planned and unplanned), your solar panels will not generate electricity unless properly equipped to do so. This is because a solar panel system is a “grid-tied” solar system, which is dependent on the electrical grid. To protect the repair workers trying to establish power, the utility grid and all “grid-tied” systems will be shut down.

In order to power your home when the power goes out, your solar energy system needs a special type of inverter that allows selected circuits in your home to be powered while the sun is shining. If you want to power your home while there is no sunlight, a solar battery is required. Adding a solar battery to your home is a great way to protect against the power outages that have impacted California.

Here is what you should know before getting quotes for your solar energy system.

Power Outages Make Solar Batteries a Necessity in California

A solar panel system alone isn’t enough to ensure that your home can stay powered on during a blackout. There are some inverters that have extra power outlets that aren’t tied to the utility grid, allowing a home to draw power from those outlets during a blackout. But this can only occur while the sun is shining and because the power is highly dependent on the amount of sunlight the solar panels system is currently receiving, leading to power output that may vary throughout the day. This is why a solar battery makes more sense for most homeowners in California.

Adding a solar battery to your solar panel system will provide consistent power to your home during the event of a blackout. As long as your solar battery is properly charged, you can power your home even when the sun isn’t shining, at a consistent throughput. The amount of power your Energy Storage System (ESS) will provide to your home during a blackout is less than the amount of power that your home receives when powered by the grid. Therefore, until the size of batteries dramatically increase at an affordable rate, you will have to decide which circuits in your home should be powered during a blackout. Your highest priority household circuits being powered is known as your Critical Load, (CL). You need to manage that power carefully since you need to ensure that you have enough electricity to power your home adequately until the next sunny day, where your solar panels can recharge your solar battery system.

Solar Pro Tip: An Energy Storage System (ESS), includes a battery backup and power processing unit like an inverter. Check out our solar acronym guide for other useful solar and battery related acronyms.

Solar Battery Provides Protection For California Homeowners

The devastating fires such as the one that impacted Mendocino Complex and Paradise have impacted the way our utility companies prepare for fire season by preemptively implementing a power outage. California utility companies have decided to reduce the risk of a wildfire by shutting off power to high risk transmission-line areas on high fire-risk days. We started to see the preventative blackouts implemented by California’s largest public utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). With the other major utility companies like San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) following in suit. This practice is likely to open up the window for more and more widespread extended blackouts all across California. In addition, to the unplanned power outages these planned outages can leave homeowners and businesses without power for days, even weeks.

With Time-of-Use Billing, a Solar Battery Maximizes Savings

Did you know that during the day when your solar energy system is working the most, California utilities are compensating you for that power at a rate that is lower than the rate they are charging you for power during the evening. Homeowners between the hours of 4PM – 9PM will see charges as high as 57 cents ($.57) per kilowatt-hour (Kwh) for some homes. During the daylight hours, California utility companies may pay as little as 24 cents ($.24) per Kwh. With the shift to Time-of-Use (ToU) by California’s major utility companies like Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) makes the effectiveness of a solar energy system less impactful. By adding a solar battery solution, you can store the electricity generated during the day and consume it when electricity costs are most expensive, at night.

California’s SGIP May Help Pay for Your Solar Battery Costs

California is incentivizing both business and home owners to install a solar battery through a state sponsored program known as the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). The SGIP provides an incentive of up to $400 per KwH of installed battery capacity, which helps to significantly reduce the cost of installing a solar battery.

To calculate the the full SGIP credit for a Tesla Powerwall. We would take the size of the Tesla Powerwall, which is a 13.5 KwH system and multiply it by the full SGIP credit per kilwatt-hour of $400, would equal a credit of $5,400 per Tesla Powerwall. The value of the SGIP credit steadily gets reduced as more and more battery capacity is installed. There is a commercial and residential SGIP credit and the residential SGIP credit is close to expiring. To maximize your SGIP credit, it is beneficial to install your solar battery as soon as possible.

Your Solar Battery May NOT Charge During a Power Outage

The biggest solar batteries on the market today from the Tesla Powerwall to LG Chem are unable to be charged by your solar panels during the event of a blackout. For homeowners in California who need to have protection against outages for multiple days should consider a battery backup system that has an “islanding” capability. This is a condition where a solar panel system can continue to power a solar battery even though the electrical grid is no longer available. Battery backup solutions like a microgrid can provide such capabilities for homeowners looking for long term outage independence from the grid.

Lower your Solar Battery Install Cost with Orme Solar

With the steadily increasing number of power outages that will impact California for years to come, the importance of solar batteries has never been greater. And with the steadily shrinking SGIP credit, it pays to install your home solar battery as soon as possible. Not only can a solar battery provide energy to your home during a power outage, it can also help you maximize your electricity savings by avoiding peak Time-of-Use charges.

A properly installed and well-maintained solar panel + battery system can generate electrical power for your home for many years. With the benefits of solar batteries, and how the prices of solar panels have stabilized installing solar + battery on your home has never made more sense both in terms of a financial investment and as insurance. Orme Solar can help you maximize your savings today and break free from the electrical grid!

At Orme Solar, we geek out on craftsmanship of solar energy which is at the heart of each solar battery installation. We take a solar battery first approach, and specialize in ensuring that your home continues to run seamlessly whether or not a power outage occurs. With excellence being the passing, grade we ensure that we produce a great experience for all of our customers who go solar. Request a quote, or give us a call at 877-288-1097.