We all remember the horror.
In February 2021, approximately 2.8 million Texas residents, 300,000 Oregonians, and 150,000 Virginians lost power in a winter storm that barreled across the country.
Six months later, Hurricane Ida crashed ashore in Louisiana as a Category 4, leaving a million people without power, thousands of whom still did not have electricity a month later.
These are just a few examples of the increasing risk of power outages people across the country face we experience more extreme weather, including windstorms, hurricanes, and winter storms.
Losing power isn’t just an inconvenience.
It can be dangerous and costly.
However, knowing you have electricity, you can at least ride out the outages with off-grid energy.
Let’s check out four benefits of having off-grid capabilities when the power goes out.
1. Off-Grid Energy Keeps the Power On
For many people, the idea of solar energy equals energy independence and freedom from paying the utility company.
However, most homeowners who go solar opt for a grid-tied system.
It makes sense.
These systems cost less because they don’t require battery storage.
How a Grid-Tied System Works
In a grid-tied system works, you have solar panels installed on your roof (or ground-mounted in some cases), but you also remain connected to your utility provider.
The panels are hooked up to an inverter and connected to a metering system.
This metering system measures how much solar energy you use and how much electricity you use from the grid.
When your panels produce more energy than you use, the extra gets sent over the power lines to the utility company (called net metering).
This is all great . . . until the power goes out.
When there’s a power outage, you can’t draw electricity from your solar panels?
Unfortunately, no, you can’t.
If there is a power outage in a grid-tied system, your system has an automatic shutoff function.
It’s there to ensure line workers can safely work on the power lines.
How Off-Grid Energy Works
With an off-grid system, you can store excess energy.
If you install rooftop solar along with a battery bank, you can keep the power on when a storm or some other event knocks out the electricity in your area.
If you also have a grid-tied system, in this scenario, when there is a power outage, the batteries automatically disconnect from the grid, allowing you to still use the energy stored in them.
Since you are tied to the grid, you don’t need as large a battery bank as a home that is entirely off the grid.
However, you may have to set up the system to run only your critical household appliances.
Though we are partial to solar systems, you have other off-grid energy options, such as a generator (we’d advocate for a solar-powered generator over a gas-powered one, of course).
In any case, an off-grid system lets you keep the electricity flowing during a power outage.
2. Off-Grid Solar Lets You Stay Warm
People who live in south Texas don’t generally expect frigid temperatures in winter.
Yet, the February 2021 arctic cold front caused temperatures to plummet to a frigid 13 degrees Fahrenheit in Houston and a brutal 5 degrees Fahrenheit in College Station, Texas.
Add to that a power outage that lasted for days, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Hopefully, Texas is better prepared, and the rest of the country took pointers from this event.
But it doesn’t take a catastrophic event like the 2021 winter storm to make a power outage in winter a problematic situation.
Off-grid energy allows you to keep warm in cold temperatures.
If you have electric heat, your solar panels can power your system.
If not, you can use solar to power space heaters or a heat pump.
3. Off-Grid Energy Saves Your Food from Spoiling
When the power kicks out, the refrigerator kicks off.
If the outage doesn’t last for too long, your food may be safe.
Anything longer than four hours is dicey for perishables.
Meanwhile, goods in the freezer can last up to 48 hours if it’s full but only 24 hours if it’s half full.
With an off-grid energy system, you can open those doors and grab a snack or gather the fixings for dinner without fear of spoiling the rest of the contents.
Even if you have a modest battery bank, you can power your refrigerator, saving yourself a lot of money in wasted food.
4. Off Grid Energy Lets You Stay Connected
If you know a storm is on the way, you can charge your cell phone and laptop.
But there’s no guarantee that your device batteries will last as long as the power outage.
You also don’t necessarily know when the power will fail.
It isn’t always a storm that causes an outage.
Sometimes it’s a car hitting an electric pole.
An off-grid energy system lets you stay connected.
You can maintain a charge on your phone, keeping in touch with friends and family, or reach 911 in an emergency.
You can also keep your laptop running should you need or want to use it.
Best yet, you can also help your neighbors by charging their essential devices and keeping them connected to their loved ones.
Unbound Solar® Helps You with Your Off Grid Energy Needs
Here at Unbound Solar®, we help people achieve energy independence.
We have everything you need to install an off-grid or grid-tied solar system.
Whether you’re ready to shop for your off-grid energy system or you have more questions about solar, we’re happy to assist!
Feel free to reach out!