Why doesn’t my solar system work during the blackout?

Why doesn’t my solar system work during the blackout?

While there are many benefits to a grid-tied solar system, having power for your home or business during a blackout is not one of them. 

There are two reasons that grid-tied solar does not work during a PG&E blackout:

#1 The primary reason for solar systems to shut off during a blackout is safety. A Grid Tied Solar Inverter is required by regulation to not produce power in the event of a power outage.  This is because when PG&E sends Linemen to repair any downed power lines, they could be electrocuted if a solar array is back feeding power into the grid. Solar inverters are programmed to recognize when the power coming from the grid is unstable, or down, and will automatically turn off for safety.

#2 A secondary reason is that the power produced by your Grid Tied Solar Inverter varies throughout the day and rarely matches the instantaneous power needs of your home or business.  For example, if your solar array was producing less power than you needed at any given moment, your house would effectively “brown-out,” your lights could dim and your appliances may not function.  This would not only be inconvenient but could damage sensitive equipment, like computers. With a grid-tied solar system, any difference between the power you need and the power your solar can produce is provided by the grid. On the other extreme, if your Grid Tied Solar Inverter is producing more power than you need at any given moment, that power has no where else to go and could cause catastrophic damage.  With a grid-tied system any excess power is sent back into the grid and PG&E credits you for that power.


To have power in a Power Outage you need a battery backup system.

A battery backup system will power your home or business during a blackout, and be recharged by your solar array. However, a reliable whole house battery storage system is around an $25,000 + investment, depending on your needs.

If you are seriously interested in a solar rechargeable battery backup system please let us know, and we would be happy to go over the details with you.

You can fill out the online form here, or call (530) 274-3671 and ask to speak with one of our qualified solar designers today.

In most cases a battery system can be eligible for the 30% Federal Tax Credit. Please consult with your CPA to make sure you qualify.