- Air Conditioning
- Home Performance
- Energy Audits
- Commercial Services
How Can You Prepare for a Power Shutoff or Outage?
September 26, 2019
You probably already know about the Planned Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) in response to last year’s PG&E wildfire devastation. As a power shutoff could last for days, these planned power outages are a great reason to be thinking about power outage resiliency! While there is an alert for PSPS warnings, there is no way to predict when the next extreme weather event may also pull down power lines and or compromise electrical equipment throughout the Sierra foothills. So what can you do to better prepare for power shutoffs or blackouts using solar energy, energy storage systems or a generator backup power in California?
Preparing (& Saving) with Solar
For many homeowners that are considering installing solar panels on their home, they are surprised to hear that installing solar panels alone will not keep the lights on during an outage. A traditional on-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) system is actually connected to a safety shutoff, which is triggered as soon as an outage is detected. This is to protect powerline workers from accidental electrocution while they are working to get the power back up and running.
In order to eliminate your risk of a PG&E blackout (forced power outage or unplanned), you will need to also install a power backup system, like a generator or solar battery storage.
A backup generator runs on natural gas or propane and supplies the electricity you need to keep the refrigerator running and the lights on. They are usually connected to an existing natural gas line for a streamlined fuel supply. Generators will detect when there is an outage present, and turn on right away to minimize the amount of time you are without power (usually within 10 seconds). With a backup generator, you can experience all the benefits of a steady power supply, like:
- Keeping your food from spoiling
- Taking hot showers
- Charging your devices
- Running your heating & cooling equipment
- Maintaining power to any security systems
- Continuing to run your water pump
Brower Mechanical professionally installs Generac generators for your home.
Solar Battery Storage
Like we mentioned before, a typical solar PV system is connected directly to the grid before it sends any electricity to your home. Not only is this a safety concern, but when your solar panels are producing more energy than your home is using, that excess electricity is actually sent back into the grid for use in other homes. You receive a credit for this cleanly harvested and sustainable energy on your energy bill in a process referred to as net metering. But for those that would rather use that excess electricity, they can store their abundant solar energy with a battery storage system.
Solar batteries, like the LG Chem, capture all of the energy your solar panels convert during the daytime and use it to provide steady electricity 24 hours a day. For one thing, this means that even overnight your home is still using clean, renewable energy. But it also means your home can be truly energy independent, and off the grid with battery backup power! No more forced outages, no more blackouts. Your home will be powered by the sun 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
But in order to ensure your solar plus storage system will provide a dependable and efficient supply of electricity, it is a great plan to make sure any lapses in your home performance aren’t allowing that solar energy to slip through the cracks!
How To “Go Small Solar”
Our fearless leaders Duane and Bill Small often talk about the idea of “going small solar” on their weekly podcast, the Brower Power Hour. What do they mean by going small? As building science experts, Bill and Duane understand that the more efficient a home can be, the less electricity it will require. And the less electricity a home requires the fewer solar panels they will require!
When you partner with Brower Mechanical for your solar battery backup or backup generator installation needs, we will make sure you have all the information you need to reduce before you produce. We can even perform an energy audit or free clipboard audit, and give you targeted recommendations as to which home performance upgrades will make your home as efficient as possible.