How to Use Solar Panels During a Power Outage (5 Tips to Know)

January 4, 2023

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Homeowners often wonder how to use solar panels during power outage, always to ensure uninterrupted electricity. Additionally, you might ask if solar panels and batteries work during the nighttime or winter months. Finally, many property owners even wonder if solar panels allow you to disconnect from the power grid entirely with an off grid solar system.

A solar installation contractor is your best information source when it comes to solar for your home or business. In the meantime, note some added information about solar power during outages and blackouts. You can then decide on the right components for your property and know what to expect from your solar array.

solar panels before power outage

How Solar Panels Work During Power Outages

First, check out some information on solar panels working during a power outage. Then, you can better understand how to use those panels when your local electricity fails.

Off-grid versus grid-tied systems

Note the difference between off-grid and grid-tied solar array systems. Also, check local building codes and other regulations before deciding on a system for your property.

Grid-tied systems connect solar panels to your local electric company. As the solar panels collect and convert energy, this power travels back over your property's wiring. At the same time, your property remains connected to that utility provider, using their electricity for your power needs. Consequently, you are credited for the solar energy your property produces.

As the name implies, off-grid systems work independently of local utility providers. Your property's electrical systems wire directly to the panels or a solar battery array. A blackout won't affect those panels as they're not connected to the local power grid.

Using solar battery storage

A solar power battery works like standard rechargeable household batteries. First, they connect to your solar panel wiring. Then, those solar panels recharge the battery as they collect and convert solar power.

Like household batteries, a solar power battery holds excess power when needed. This includes blackouts! A solar battery doesn't connect to the grid, so a blackout or other failure won't affect its functioning.

black out without solar battery

5 Tips on How to Use Solar Panels During Power Outage

If you have a grid-tied system, you might need to disconnect it from your utility provider during an outage manually. Doing so keeps your property from bypassing the panels and using their power. Here are five tips and steps on how to do this for your system:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the switch that disconnects your system from the grid before an outage! This switch should be in or near your main circuit box. Disconnecting your panels during an outage is vital. Otherwise, they could send power back to your utility company unexpectedly, risking injury and damage to the lines.
  2. After disconnecting your panels from the grid, look for the switch that operates your solar power circuit breakers. Switch this to the ON position.
  3. Ensure your inverter starts charging after the panels begin powering your home. This inverter takes solar energy and converts it into usable power. If the inverter fails, your property cannot use the energy collected by your panels!
  4. Keep an eye on your solar power system's battery and its usage. Keep your energy usage limited while drawing on the batteries. This will ensure they don't run out during the blackout.
  5. Never hesitate to call your solar panel installer if you have questions about how it works! A solar installer is typically happy to help customers after completing a project. In addition, they can offer added suggestions for using your panels during a power outage.

Lastly, check with your local utility provider, city, or county about solar panel regulations. During a blackout, power companies typically shut down areas needing repairs. This ensures there are no live wires where workers are present.

A solar panel system still operating during such a shutdown can mean injury, damage to lines, and other serious risks, as said. Your local city or county regulates solar panel usage on private property.


how to use solar panels during power outage

Why Does Solar Power Not Work During a Power Outage?

A grid tied solar system is unlike a generator you use during a power outage and doesn't power your home directly. Instead, these send power produced back to your local utility provider, which credits your bill accordingly. Also, as said, these should be disconnected from the grid during an outage to avoid injury risks.

Additionally, note that off-grid solar panels still need sunlight to generate power. So if a storm or winter weather has caused power outages, it will probably keep your solar panels from working effectively! Also, a storm might leave tree branches and other debris on top of those panels. This, too, blocks sunlight from reaching their solar cells, so they don't work very effectively.

Lastly, note that solar batteries will "kick in" during power outages or stormy weather. However, solar panels don't produce energy without sunlight. So if that blackout comes with little to no sunlight, your panels will also have little energy.

Investing in a Solar Battery

A solar installer can design your system to work without batteries. A grid-tied system means using power supplied by your local electric company. While this system might be cheaper, there are many reasons to consider investing in solar batteries!

One reason to choose batteries is that you can use them during a power outage or blackout, as said. Two, using solar battery-stored power means drawing less power from your local utility company. In turn, you'll lower your power bills even more when you choose solar batteries.

Also, note that current tax credits and other incentives mean even more savings when you invest in solar. Manufacturers have also made solar batteries more effective over the years! Consequently, they might be cheaper and last longer than you expect. Your energy cost savings can be an excellent investment for your property. A solar battery allows for complete energy independence without relying on grid power.

battery pack, cell, battery cell

How to Get the Most Power From Your Solar System

Several factors affect how well your solar panels work throughout the year. Knowing more about those details can ensure your work as effectively as possible!

Anything blocking sunlight from hitting those panels will affect how well they work. In turn, ensure they're free of debris, including dust, leaves, and the like. Also, quickly remove downed tree branches, snow, ice, and other items!

Check your solar panel inverter often and note if it's operating correctly. That inverter converts sunlight into usable electricity. Consequently, a damaged inverter means less power from those panels. Most inverters will have an LED light or another performance indicator, so check it often.

Also, note that solar panels have no moving parts, so they rarely need maintenance or repairs. However, most installers recommend a professional inspection every few years. A solar installation pro can look for wiring damage, cracked facing, and other issues. Their checks ensure your panels are continuously working as effectively as possible!

Contact Our Solar Energy Contractors

Alliance Solar is happy to explain how to use solar panels during a power outage. Hopefully, you found this article informative and valuable. Call our solar installation contractors if you're ready for clean, green energy on your property. We can explain solar and energy storage in greater detail and prepare a no-cost price quote. Are you interested in an off grid system? We'll walk you through the process. Additionally, we guarantee every installation for quality. To find out more, call us today!


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