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Utilizing Solar Power in Times of Crisis

While Pennsylvania residents were spared from the devastating floods that Hurricane Sandy brought to New Jersey and New York in 2012, vicious winds still managed to inflict one of the largest power outages in the state’s history. As utility companies scrambled to restore electricity to more than 1.3 million Pennsylvania residents, many found themselves suddenly living in a world of dark chaos. It’s sad that we don’t have solar power in times of crisis!

Losing electricity can be an expensive and stressful ordeal. Without energy to keep your refrigerator cold, hundreds of dollars worth of food could be lost. The three million residents who rely on well water are suddenly left without a drop. If you’re left without power for more than a few uncomfortable hours, the next expensive step may be to head to a hotel until problems are resolved at home.

Dishing out a few hundred dollars for a generator is also an option. But with weather patterns becoming increasingly unpredictable, it’s important to be prepared to lose power before it happens. While traditional, grid-tied, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems shut down when the power goes out, there are other options that can keep your critical loads – refrigerator, well, sump pump – functioning while your neighbors are living off the grid.

One option is to install a battery backup system for your solar PV system. During a power outage, these system uses the solar panels to keep the batteries charged, which then are used to run your critical loads. As long as the sun comes out after the storm, the system allows you to run your critical loads indefinitely (and should run your critical loads for two – three days without any sun). Utilizing solar power in times of crisis becomes a breeze if you set it up right.

A second option provides a secure power supply outlet that is powered during the day by your solar panels without the need for batteries. While the sun is out, you can plug your critical loads into that outlet or charge a battery pack, allowing you to remain in the comfort of your home and keep your food from spoiling.

As we are confronted with the possibility of the power grid going down more often in the future, now is the time to consider how solar and other nontraditional options can help overcome these challenges.

by Sarah Bergen, Blogger/Publicist, Exact Solar

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