Using Solar Power For Weather Emergencies
Is it just us, or has the weather gone haywire?
In 2022, we saw crazy wildfires across the West. A record-breaking heat wave and drought across the Central US. Floods in Missouri and Kentucky and two tornado outbreaks across the South. And let's not forget to mention that 2,000-mile-wide winter storm that drove snow and freezing temperatures across the country, knocking out the power from Maine to Texas. Are the doomsday preppers onto something?
Not everyone might believe we’re on the cusp of the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI), but at the very least we should all be on the same page when it comes to prepping for weather emergencies.
Being without power and cut off from the rest of the world in freezing or boiling temperatures is far from ideal. It can be downright dangerous. Emergency solar power can make a huge difference.
When you’re prepared for weather emergencies with solar power you can keep your home heated or cooled, keep your cell phone and laptop charged so you can check in on friends and family or call for help when you need to, and even keep your fridge and lights on.
We know what you're thinking. That sounds…expensive. The good news is that you can access solar in a cheap, easy, and convenient way with a solar kit. If you don't know what that means or how that works, keep reading, then take a deep dive with our Emergency Solar Power 101 guide; it gives you all of the info you need to make up your own mind about solar.
What Causes Power Outages?
According to the Economist, the majority of power outages are the result of weather events, followed closely by mechanical failures due to the aging grid. Wind, heat, ice, and storms can easily damage power lines, as can wildlife, earthquakes, and vehicle collisions. In recent years, we've seen more instances of power outages as a direct result of high power demand. The increased number of heat waves and cold snaps can overburden electric cables, transformers, and other electrical equipment, causing them to fail.
Weather is the worst for power outages
Between 2000 and 2021, 83% of all major outages in the US were related to bad weather, and they can happen in any season. The number of weather-related outages increased by 78% between 2011 and 2021, with the Southeast, Midwest, and Northeast experiencing the most outages. Texas, Michigan, California, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania were the most affected.
The 1,542 major power outages experienced during this time period can be attributed to the following:
- High winds, rain, and thunderstorms (58%)
- Snow, ice, and freezing rain (22%)
- Tropical storms and hurricanes (15%)
- Extreme heat and wildlife (5%)
Because the grid is interconnected, some types of extreme weather can affect large areas across multiple states. While 28 states and Washington, DC averaged outages of less than five hours, the average duration for a power outage in Texas was 20 hours. For Oregon, it was 25 hours, and for Louisiana, a whopping 80 hours.
How to protect yourself against power outages
When most people think about backup power, they think about gas generators. However, gas isn't the best solution. Generators fueled by burning some sort of fuel can't be used indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, and anything could happen outdoors in a storm.
When the gas runs out, you'll need to travel to a gas station to refuel. In many cases, gas stations aren't even operational during extreme weather events, and if the weather’s that bad should you really be out in it for any reason?
Americans are turning increasingly to solar generators to keep the lights on, especially in areas that are at high-risk of severe storms. Maybe you’re only at risk during certain seasons, but a solar generator can provide reliable, portable backup power in an emergency grid failure year round..
The solar generator: definitely not just a fair-weather friend
So, let's take a look at what a solar generator is. It typically looks like a box somewhere between the size of a small microwave to an average dehumidifier, with a display screen and a bunch of outlets, and likely has sturdy castor wheels on the bottom. Inside it contains three integrated components, namely an inverter, charge controller, and batteries.
It’s called a solar generator because it’s designed to connect directly to solar panels to charge its battery, although you can usually also plug it in to a normal outlet or even your car to charge it up. As long as the battery remains charged the generator will power your home's appliances, so you need the solar panels to keep it topped up throughout a lengthy outage.
The average solar generator can power computers, fridges, fans, space heaters, and other equipment very effectively, and intermittent use of a heater or AC to keep the temperature reasonable, but if you want to keep your AC or heating going for prolonged periods of time, you’ll need extra battery storage. Fortunately, a lot of solar generators make it dirt easy to expand your storage capacity by plugging in multiple generators or batteries.
Why use solar power for backup during a weather emergency?
As we said, solar generators are special because they can be recharged with solar panels, making them far more reliable than any other generator. It's safe to operate indoors, can be moved from place to place, doesn't emit noxious fumes, and can be recharged with just a day of bright sunlight. Unlike gas generators, they are noiseless and don't need refueling with harmful fossil fuels.
A mid-sized portable solar generator generating 2-3 kilowatt hours per standard charge will produce about 10% of the power used by the average household and hours of backup power.
If you want to live off the grid entirely or need your HVAC to remain fully operational during an extended power outage, you’ll want to consider a whole-home solar system with battery backup instead.
Solar kits: the best way to protect against all power outages
Solar kits are the best possible way to prepare for a weather emergency. They contain everything you need for either a completely off-grid system or to keep a solar generator going during an emergency.
A standard solar generator kit, for example, will contain the right rigid or flexible solar panels, cables, and generator, so there's no need to purchase separate components. These systems are extremely low maintenance, but if something does go wrong, you'll be familiar enough with the various parts to fix most issues when they crop up.
The best solar kits for weather emergency power protection
Don't know where to start? Here are a few of our top picks for emergency solar backup kits:
EcoFlow is one of the most popular kits on the market. It contains a Delta 1800 solar generator, two 100W solar panels that can fully recharge your generator in 4-5 hours, and all of the cables and accessories you'll need for your setup. It's perfect for charging small appliances and other low-power devices when the power fails. At just over $1,200, it's very affordable, too.
The Lion Safari kit contains a 2,970wH Solar Generator and 4 x 100W Solar Panel Suitcases, perfect when you need power on the go. It's pricier than the EcoFlow Delta, but it can run anything and everything in your home, indoors and outdoors. Able to handle a 4,000 surge on the inverter it can power high-wattage appliances like your A/C unit or power tools with ease.
This kit has been specifically designed for RV, Vans, and other mobile applications that need a portable solar setup, but it's perfect as a home emergency backup too. You can run fridges, freezers, grills, window A/C units, and more with this kit. It comes with a Bluetti AC200P solar generator, 2 x compatible 200-watt 12V monocrystalline solar panels, along with a 30-foot PV extension cable and other accessories so you can set it up in a jiffy. At just below the $ 2,500 mark, it's affordable and reliable.
If this has piqued your interest(and if you’re serious about prepping for emergencies it should have), we have an article all about why you should use an emergency solar kit, plus other articles recommending the best solar kits for emergencies, the best emergency solar panels, and the top solar generators.
If you live in an area with harsh storms and extreme weather events, it's time to go solar. Solar kits contain absolutely everything you need to prepare for the next emergency situation, no matter the weather. They are safe to use indoors and outdoors, fully rechargeable, low maintenance, and affordable.
Speak to shopsolarkits.com for more information and recommendations. Our team has been supplying over 30,000 homeowners with affordable emergency power solutions for years and are able to provide you with a comprehensive quote to help you find the best kit for your needs.
Want to know more? Complete our mini-course to learn everything you need to know about emergency solar power.