Hurricane Ian’s catastrophic winds and flooding are likely to bring long-lasting power outages to large parts of Florida. The storm is the latest in a line of hurricanes and extreme heat and cold events that have knocked out power to millions of Americans in recent years for days at a time.
In many disaster- and outage-prone areas, people are starting to ask whether investing in rooftop solar and battery storage systems can keep the lights on and the air conditioner running when the power grid can’t.
When the grid goes down, most solar systems that lack a battery will also shut down. But with batteries, a home can disconnect from the grid. Each day, the sun powers the home and charges up the batteries, which provide power through the night.
Our team atBerkeleyLab explored what it would take for homes and commercial buildings to ride out long power outages, of three days or more, with solar and batteries.
How much can solar + storage do?
For a new report, we modeled a generic power outage for every county in the U.S., testing whether a rooftop solar system combined with a 10- or 30-kilowatt-hour battery could power critical loads, like refrigeration, lighting, internet service and well pumps; if it could go further and also power heating and air conditioning; or if it could even power a whole home.
To put that into perspective, the most popular battery on the market, the Tesla Powerwall, has just over 13 kWh of storage.