Why the Power Goes Out, Even When You Have Solar

by Jon Child //

It’s a common misconception that if you have solar, your power will stay on when the grid goes down. However, if you only have a grid-tied solar PV system, your power will go out along with most everyone else’s.

This is by design, in order to maintain the safety of the workers repairing the downed electric utility system. When there are people working on the lines, all power must be cut. Therefore, all live power being generated by your grid-tied system must be shut off during that period. This is required by code, and is built into every design we do.

If you have a battery back-up or generator that has been professionally integrated into your electrical system, you can still have electricity during a power outage. This is because the back-up power system is wired to avoid feeding back into the grid, and it supplies power only to the critical loads (that you define) in your home or business. This can take the form of battery-based systems or a generator. Each solution can meet a different set of needs and expectations.

If you wish to integrate a back-up power project into your electrical system during the installation of your new solar PV project, these two systems need to be designed and permitted simultaneously. This ensures the back-up power system is fully integrated into the electrical design, and approved for operation along with the solar PV project. It is also possible to retrofit existing electrical services with or without interconnected solar PV systems to include back-up power. We do this regularly in the course of our work.

Reach out to us if you are interested in adding a back-up power plan at your site. If you don’t have solar and are still interested, give us a call and we’ll see what we can do.