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New tech can make your house a solar microgrid

Image of a house with solar panels

Enlarge / Modern single storey house with solar panels and wall battery for energy storage. (credit: imaginima)

In 2020, the average United States resident experienced a little more than eight hours of electricity blackouts, according to stats from the Energy Information Administration. The report noted that this was the highest number seen since 2013 when the organization began collecting this data.

During huge storms or massive oppressive heatwaves, the power can go out, and many of the amenities—TV, the Internet, fridges, etc.—Americans enjoy simply go kaput. Currently, the primary options for avoiding this fate are batteries and backup generators. However, a company called Enphase says it has created a product that can let your house run directly off its solar panels if they’re producing, though it comes with some caveats.

Shouldn’t solar panels work during an outage?

You’d think so, but no—mostly. Solar panels affixed to homes (and other structures) that are connected to the power grid will also go kaput during power outages. The outage doesn’t stop them from producing power; the power just can’t be used in the absence of a functioning grid. That’s because the microinverters are part of an integrated system that includes the grid, power meter, and other associated hardware.

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