How To Avoid Losing Power During The Next Hurricane

trees limbs falling on power lines during a hurricane in North Carolina

In This Article

We’re entering the heart of hurricane season here in North Carolina, which means it’s time to start thinking about how to prepare your home for incoming storms. Hurricanes can be quite stressful, and losing power for hours, or even days, is just the icing on top of an anxiety cake (try that for your next challenge, Great British Baking Show).

Look, we’ve been trying to reason with hurricane season*, but alas, the storms still roll in most years. Each time a storm blows through, we get tons of questions about how to prevent power outages with solar power and whether battery storage is the right investment.

Here are the answers to the 5 questions we get asked the most:

*We published this blog a week before receiving the saddening news of Jimmy Buffett's passing. As you can tell by the countless references to him in this blog, Jimmy's energy and music have been a staple for many on our team. From all of your SEM Parrot Heads, Rest in Paradise JB!

1. What happens to my solar system during a hurricane?

The majority of solar systems we install are grid-tied, which means they will shut down during power outages – this is to ensure the safety of utility workers, per National Electrical Code (NEC). That means your solar panels won’t power your home during a hurricane if the power is out. But… there is a way to keep the lights on and the fridge going… and that’s with battery backup!

With a solar battery, like a Tesla Powerwall, you’ll be able to utilize the stored energy in those batteries to power your home, even if the power is out. When the sun is shining again, your solar panels will be able to recharge those batteries which will continue to supply power to your home. This added resilience and self-reliance makes solar batteries a valuable investment for hurricane season and beyond.

Here’s Brandon to give an overview of how to get your solar panels to work during an outage.

2. Can I use solar panels to power essential devices during a hurricane?

Like we talked about above, to power your home when the power is out, you’ll need solar + battery backup.

If you’re in an area that experiences frequent hurricanes, you likely already have a mental list of what is essential to keep on when the power goes out. Before we design any battery system, we need to have a clear outline of what you want to keep running.

Some common must-haves that can be backed up with one Powerwall during a hurricane are:

  • A refrigerator to preserve food and the 13 pints of that Ben & Jerry’s you bought while it was on sale at Harris Teeter (or was that just us?)
  • Lights
  • Phones to stay connected, informed, and up-to-date on evacuations
  • Wi-Fi
  • Medical equipment

If you are looking to power heavier loads on top of the list above, like an A/C unit, an electric stove, or a music studio (your Jimmy Buffett cover band will thank you later), you’ll be entering 2+ Powerwall territory. Whatever it is you need powered, this is a great conversation starter for one of our solar designers. Start a chat with Dave, our solar educator →

3. How does solar compare to a generator during a hurricane?

It will ultimately depend on your energy goals and preferences. There are pros and cons associated with both, but Randy, one of our solar designers, is here to give you the scoop in this video.

Check out our blog to learn more about generators vs. solar batteries during a hurricane.

4. How does a solar battery work during a hurricane?

During a hurricane, a solar battery will work the same as it does during any power outage – when the power goes out, your battery will automatically switch over to start powering your home. The Tesla Storm Watch feature will make sure your battery is at maximum capacity, or fully charged, as a hurricane gets closer to your area. When your power goes out and your battery kicks on, you may experience some light flickers, but after that brief moment, you’ll be powering your home from your own stored power. Talk about self-reliance! 

Speaking of self-reliance, here is Jimmy Buffett surfing at Folly Beach before Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas.

5. How do I prepare my solar panels and battery for a hurricane?

There is nothing you need to do with your solar panels – you don’t need protective shields for your panels or anything of that nature – but you will need to do a few things to make sure you and your Tesla Powerwall are prepared.

How to prepare a Tesla Powerwall for a hurricane

There are a couple of things you can do to prepare your Tesla Powerwall for an upcoming hurricane. Learn more from Graham in this quick video.

Learn more about the Powerwall’s storm features in our blog.

Will solar panels withstand hurricane-force winds?

Through our design and permitting process, your solar system is specifically engineered to withstand high-wind speeds. You can be rest assured that your panels are installed up to code and won’t budge from your roof. 

Can debris damage my solar panels during a hurricane?

Trees, falling limbs, and other debris could damage your solar system, or the surrounding roof may be damaged. If this happens, we’ll need to remove your panels so that your roof can be repaired.

What should I do if my solar panels get damaged during a hurricane?

Give your solar installer a call. If it’s Southern Energy Management, we’ll gladly assess if your claim can be resolved under our warranty process. Otherwise, we can guide you through contacting your insurance company. If we installed your panels initially, we’re here to help you get them back up and running smoothly. If we didn’t install them originally, we’re still here to help

What customers had to say after our most recent hurricane in North Carolina

After more than 20 years of installing solar, our team and customers have experienced a fair share of hurricanes in North Carolina. Since we started installing Tesla Powerwalls in 2017, we’ve helped keep more lights (and smiles) on during hurricane season. Here are a few testimonials from the most recent hurricane in NC. 

As for us, our system performed flawlessly! The Tesla app informed me that it had gone into Storm Watch mode to maintain maximum battery storage… It’s comforting to know we have it in place and our refrigerator and freezer will continue to operate without me having to drag out a generator and make sure I can keep it fueled.

– Russ

With the hurricane nearby, our Tesla batteries made the stress considerably less…totally worth our investment!

– Terry

The Powerwall worked great. With a Storm Watch [read more about Tesla Powerwall’s Storm Watch feature] in our area last night the Powerwall was at 100% when we lost power about 3:30 AM. Normally, when there isn’t a storm, the Powerwall would be at the minimum of 20% at that time in the morning. From 3:30 AM, it powered our house with no problem until the power came back on at 9:30 AM. Hurricane prep was one of the main reasons we got solar panels with the battery.

– Richard

Stay Prepared for Hurricane Season

Jimmy Buffett chillin with his guitar and an iguana
This is Jimmy Buffett, but it could also be you not stressing about the next power outage.

We’ll keep trying to reason with hurricane season but in the meantime, stay prepared and turn that anxiety cake into some cheeseburgers in paradise. By taking the necessary steps to prepare with solar and battery storage, you can make sure you have reliable energy during the next hurricane or tropical storm. This helps give you peace of mind during a hurricane while also safeguarding your well-being and that of your loved ones. 

Give us a call today to see if solar + batteries are the right fit for your home!

Top 17 Powerwall Questions Answered

Answers to all your Tesla Powerall questions in one place! Check out our Tesla Powerwall Guide to learn about Powerwall specs, how battery storage + solar works, & more!
PDF Guide

Meet the Author

Lindsay Brecheisen

Always enjoying the journey 🙂 Lindsay is the conductor of content at Southern Energy Management. When she isn’t synthesizing information into a newsletter or blog — Lindsay enjoys long walks on the beach with her cat, listening to soul on vinyl, and surfing the earth or sea (depending on the season).

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