What Happens to Your Solar Panels in a Power Outage

Solar for Homeowners | 1 min read
solar installation on roof in New Windsor, NY

Before we answer this common question that we receive on a daily basis, we want to point out that most solar systems installed today are meant to remove a cost (your electric bill) rather than provide an independent power source from the electric grid.


What Happens When the Grid Goes Down

There is a common misconception that your solar system will keep producing electricity even when the electric grid 'goes down.' Unfortunately, this is not true for most solar systems at this time, unless you have a battery back-up system or have a special solar inverter that is designed to provide limited power for limited amounts of time. When the power goes out, your solar array shuts down for technical and safety reasons mentioned below.

solar installation on roof in New Windsor, NYInstalling a roof-mounted solar system for Leprechaun Bus Lines (New Windsor, NY)


Technical Reason

Solar panels produce varying amounts of electricity per day (depending on the sun's location or amount of clouds, etc.) and a typical household/business uses varying amounts of electricity per day.


If the grid would 'go down,' a solar system may produce 30 kWh (kilowatt-hours) in a day, however, your business/house is trying to consume 35 kWh. This would lead to appliances and lights not working properly or not at all.


The one solution would be to install a battery back-up system to keep consistent loads throughout the day and through the night. However, battery systems are currently cost-prohibitive for most people.


To understand why solar systems can work without a battery back-up system by being grid-tied, read our blog on net-metering.


Grid-tied solar systems shut down when the grid goes down for your safety.


Safety Reason

Secondly, national electrical code requires that your solar system shut down when the grid 'goes down.' If the grid goes down in a neighborhood and the local utility is fixing the power lines locally, it would be unsafe for a solar system to be pushing excess electricity production from a solar system back to the grid.


Want to Learn More About Solar?

If you would like to learn more about solar energy and see if it’s a good investment option for you, we’d love to help.  We’ll complete a free site assessment to evaluate your energy usage, identify the best placement for panels, review financial options, and answer all your questions.  Contact us today to request your free site assessment.


Related Blogs