Advantages of Solar Power: Blackouts and solar panels
108 million people watched the Ravens dominate the first half of Super Bowl XLVII. Then they were shocked as the lights literally went out on the Ravens-49ers tilt early in the 2nd half. As we do these days, people turned to Twitter and it lit up (pun intended) with a flurry of activity about this debacle at the Super Dome in New Orleans.
A few of my favorites from Twitter:
"I bet Jim Harbaugh used to unplug the Nintendo when his brother was winning." @shinyidol
"Power out? No problem. (You can still dunk in the dark)" @Oreo
"BREAKING: During the Twitter, Superbowl goes down" @rsarver
"We do carry candles #SuperBowl" @Walgreens
"And that completes the test that humans will sit and stare at a tv for 34 minutes with absolutely nothing happening. #superbowl47 #blackout" @bensbigjeep
As I watched this surreal melee unfold I thought to myself this can't be really happening, but it is. The general public rarely thinks about its power, where it comes from and if it's going to work. Of course it's going to work, the lights and big screen TV always turns on, as the iPhone charges in the corner. But we're a little different than "normal people," as a solar power company we think about energy a lot. And in fact we like it when the public's awareness is heightened about energy, it's deployment and use.
So the question is, if the Super Dome had solar panels would the lights have stayed on as the Baltimore Ravens were romping the San Francisco 49ers on Super Bowl Sunday? The short answer is NO... not unless they had an enormous bank of batteries that were charged by solar panels on the roof. And to power that place, it would need to be an enormous bank of batteries.
We get a lot of questions from homeowners asking if solar will help them in the event of a power outage, and this, the Super Bowl, is the mother of all power outages! A typical solar power system won't help in the event of a power outage, because when the "grid" goes down so does your solar power system. This is because a typical, a "grid-tied," solar power system is hooked into the grid that supplies power to everyone. It pushes power out from your solar power system and spins your electricity meter backwards when it's producing electricity. Then when the sun is down your meter spins forwards as you pull from the electricity grid that you've been feeding throughout the day. Through time the goal is to get your meter to a net-zero, unless of course your power company will pay you for the extra electricity produced. Call us if that's the case, because you have a very nice situation on your hands.
But how can solar help you in the case of a power outage? There is a way, it will cost a few extra bucks, but good options are available. Basically you will need to add a bank of batteries in your home, garage or basement. You can charge these batteries directly from your solar system, from the grid or through a combination of the two. Then, when the power goes out you can power specific parts (or "loads") of your home. As the batteries drain your solar system will then refill them when the sun comes up.
Our JuiceBox solar systems are traditional "grid tie" systems. If you're looking for a backup option for your JuiceBox drop us a line or give us a call, we have a backup add-on that is available. We'll talk you through the pros and cons of adding a battery backup to your JuiceBox solar power system. As always don't hesitate to call or email us with your home solar power questions.
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