Solar and Outages

Solar and Outages

Dear Matt,

A Salesperson implied to me that the solar panels he wants to sell me would work in the event of a power outage. Is this true? 

The short answer is probably not. Unless your system includes a battery option or a certain type of inverter with an off-grid plug. The long answer explains how grid-tied generation typically works. Solar panels create DC power and homes use AC power. An inverter on your solar array uses the grid to convert DC to AC power for home use and exchanges with the grid. This is also an important safety feature. An inverter makes sure that home generation does not push power onto the grid and endanger line workers. I have been to more than a few homes with new solar panels where the member was under the impression they would have power in an outage – and that just isn’t the case.