Will Solar Power a House During an Outage?

Many people believe that their solar panels will continue to produce electricity in the event of a power outage. After all, solar panel systems are implemented to help make a home more energy independent and the panels are designed to generate their own energy.

So, will solar power a house during an outage? Well, sometimes yes, and sometimes no. 

Grid-Tied vs. Off-Grid Solar Systems

Whether or not your solar panels will power your house during an outage comes down to what type of system you have installed. There are two possible types, off-grid solar and grid-tied solar.

If you have a grid-tied solar system, it won't work during an outage. Even though your solar panels are designed to generate their own electricity, they are still interconnected with the grid system. This is so that in the event your panels aren't generating enough energy to power your home, the utility grid can step in and pick up the slack.

Unfortunately, this built-in safety net is a double-edged sword. When you use a grid-tied system, any extra energy your solar panels produce is pumped back into the grid. If your solar panels attempt to do this during an outage, it can cause serious harm to the grid itself, as well as any utility workers operating on the power lines.

Off-grid solar systems, however, will function during a power outage. This style of system is specifically designed to work independently of a utility grid so any outage won't affect it. The downside to off-grid systems is that you don't have access to any electrical backup if your panels aren't producing enough energy.

How to Use a Grid-Tied Solar System During an Outage

Just because you use a grid-tied solar system doesn't mean you have to be completely out of luck when an outage occurs. There are complimentary systems you can put in place to ensure the electricity keeps flowing even when the grid goes down.

Many homes that use a grid-tied solar system also choose to install a solar energy storage system. These storage systems use solar batteries to store excess amounts of energy generated by their solar panels. The batteries can then be used to supply power during an outage without causing any harm to workers or the grid.