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Your rooftop solar system likely won’t power your home during a utility outage

Workers install solar panels on the roof of a home in Camarillo, Calif., in 2013. San Francisco has recently decided to start requiring rooftop solar systems — electrical or heating — on new construction up to 10 stories tall.
Anne Cusack
/
LA Times via Getty Images
Workers install solar panels on the roof of a home in Camarillo, Calif., in 2013. San Francisco has recently decided to start requiring rooftop solar systems — electrical or heating — on new construction up to 10 stories tall.

It’s a bummer that most homeowners don’t realize until after they’ve committed to buying rooftop solar panels: When the power goes out — after a hurricane, a violent thunderstorm, or when a tree falls on distribution lines — so does your grid-connected rooftop solar system.

“Ninety-nine percent of prospective solar customers I speak to are surprised when I tell them,” says Justin Hoysradt, owner of the West Palm Beach-based solar installation company Vinyasun. “Intellectually, it doesn’t make sense. The sun is out. They can make electricity. Why can’t it work when the power is out?”

It turns out that while solar systems can generate as much power as most homes consume on bright, sunny days, they cannot be relied upon to consistently produce the amounts that we need. Clouds, rainstorms, and changing angles of the sun can all reduce your system’s generating capacity.

Read more from our news partner at the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

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Ron Hurtibise | South Florida Sun Sentinel