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Protect yourself from power outages with solar plus batteries

Avatar for Dan Hahn
Published on 10/15/2019 in
Updated 10/24/2019
Many california residents without electricity due to wildfire risk, here's how solar plus batteries can help

In short: Weather related power outages are becoming more common, we show you how smart home solutions tied to solar and battery storage can help you be more resilient and self sufficient

If you’ve been tuned into the news, you may have noticed over a million Californians went without power for several days last week. This was the most widespread outage caused by risk management due to weather conditions ripe for wildfire. To put this in context, there has been a tenfold increase in major power outages between the mid-1980s and 2019, and weather is causing a much larger percentage of all outages:

Extreme weather is causing more power outages than ever

The impacts on communities due to outages are severe, even more harshly felt by older people and the poor. We’ve heard from many readers who have asked similar types of questions, “If I have solar installed, why can’t I still have electricity if the grid goes down?”

When the grid goes down most solar panel configurations do not allow people to use electricity

Until as recently as the past year, our answer has been pretty standard and depressing:

“You cannot have access to electricity when the grid goes down, because interconnection rules require an automatic disconnect from your panels through to your electrical panel, so that line people who may be attempting a fix to the outage don’t get zapped by you and your neighbor’s solar electricity. If you like, you could look into a special inverter which allows you to have dribble power to a standard outlet after you flip a switch, but it’s mostly a gimmick and pretty expensive.”

Because of advancements in integrated home battery storage solutions, you can now throw that answer out the window.

Smart home battery plus solar solutions, like the Enphase Ensemble, allow you to be more self sufficient and resilient during power outages. Basically, there’s a special sensor which can tell when power from the grid is lost. At that moment, power from your solar panels gets routed to your battery, and the essential outlets in your home start drawing from it.

While battery solutions may not allow normal consumption levels unless you invest a whole bunch of money in many battery banks, you can easily keep your phone charged, lights on, and refrigerator working.

In areas more prone to outages, such as the hurricane corridor, tornado alley, and more recently all of California, solutions like these may still be expensive, but they provide a lot of peace of mind, especially if you depend on electricity to meet your health needs, get work done, or access critical information.

While some of the language in the following video may seem overly jargony, it’s the most well put together display of what you can look forward to with a smart home storage solution we’ve found so far. So, we figured we’d share it.

Our brief installer survey in 2019 indicated about 20% of new solar installs were completed with battery storage. If you are curious to learn more about battery storage plus solar, fill out our form and we’ll connect you with installers who can answer your questions.

Last modified: October 24, 2019

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