Solar + batteries at home can provide backup power during disasters

Solar + batteries at home can provide backup power during disasters

Lights went out as Hurricane Fiona devastated areas from the Caribbean to Canada, and Hurricane Ian has done the same. Hurricanes, along with other natural disasters like wildfires and winter storms, can leave people without access to electricity.

However, new research out of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that added solar capacity, paired with batteries, can help address this problem. The study makes use of historic long-term power outages (caused by disasters) and models the performance of behind-the-meter solar and energy storage systems functioning as a kind of backup source of power during long-term power interruptions.

Behind-the-meter refers to solar systems that are installed on a customer’s residence—on the customer side of the electricity meter. The more common term for this is “roof-top solar,” according to Galen Barbose, research scientist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and one of the paper’s authors. “It’s more customer-sided solar,” he told Ars.

In 2021, around 4 percent of United States homes received power from on-site solar. “The growth of behind-the-meter solar is growing. It’s still small numbers, but it’s accelerating pretty quickly,” he said.

Digital disasters

The research is part of a three-year project funded by the US’s Solar Technologies Office. According to Barbose, work on it began prior to Fiona and Ian crashing into the US. The team launched around a year ago, he said.

Barbose noted that the results of the paper are based on computer modeling rather than field data, relying on simulated loads, storage, and generation. It has two main components. In the first, the team simulated solar and battery performance in 10 historic cases involving long-term power outages caused by disasters, including Hurricane Irma and the 2019 California Wildfires. Here, long-term means 24 hours or more, but the disasters often resulted in losses of power lasting a week or more. For each location, it simulated how well the renewable energy systems fared using weather and existing house stock data.

For the second component, the team deployed their modeling system across the US, going county by county, and simulated how well the systems would perform in providing backup power in each month of the year—which would impact the heating and cooling needs—in the case of power outages lasting between one and 10 days, Barbose said. “The purpose of that was to understand, at a national level, where in the country would these systems perform better or worse? What are the key drivers that are related to climate conditions or building stock conditions that really drive the results?” he said.

In addition, the team performed deeper dives into six different counties, all denoted by the largest city in them (Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, etc.). In these deeper dives, they simulated how the solar and battery systems worked across a wide range of buildings, subject to the kinds of buildings often found in those regions, their conditions, and the kinds of appliances likely found in them. “That allowed us to better understand how energy efficiency levels, and how the choice of heating and cooling equipment types… can really impact the results within any given region,” he said.

Silver linings

The report suggests that even smaller solar and battery systems can provide useful power during periods of prolonged outages. However, larger systems could provide heating and cooling loads in most places. A small solar setup of just 10 kWh can provide basic power needs—not including heating or cooling—for three days (averaged across all US counties in any month of the year). Meanwhile, a setup that includes a 30 kWh battery would meet 96 percent of the load including heating and cooling. That said, there is variability between regions—and within them as well. These variabilities can be caused by factors like building condition and heating technology.

The paper also found that, in the case of hurricanes, the amount of time clouds continue to stick around impacts how long customers can keep restoring some energy to their batteries. After clouds dissipate, the solar systems were capable of providing critical power (power that is absolutely necessary) for weeks or more, the paper found. Solar and battery systems also fared better when homes were more energy-efficient, the paper found. Homes are made more energy efficient through various features such as insulation, heat pump systems, thick windows, smart thermostats, etc.

The research focuses more on parsing the capacity of solar power to fill in during long-term outages. However, Barbose said that it includes some steps that a homeowner or a builder could take to enhance solar systems’ ability to provide this energy.

How To Surprise🎁 Your Girlfriend👩‍👧On Her Birthday🎂

If you want to make your girlfriend feel special on her birthday, there are a lot of things that you can do. You don't have to spend a lot of money in order to make her feel loved and appreciated.

In fact, some of the best gifts are ones that come from the heart rather than being expensive or elaborate. Try one of these ideas for making your girlfriend feel special on her birthday:

Do something she has wanted to do for a long time.

Surprise your girlfriend on her birthday by doing something she has wanted to do for a long time.

Here are some ideas:

  • Go for a morning jog with her at the park.
  • Volunteer at the animal shelter together, cleaning cages and feeding dogs or cats. If you have kids, you could also bring them along when they're old enough to help out as well! This will be a great bonding experience for everyone involved!
  • Take her on an adventure in nature like hiking up a mountain or exploring caves nearby (if there are any). It's important that you plan ahead so she doesn't get hurt while trying these activities though! Also, make sure they aren't too strenuous since women tend to not have as much energy as men do even if they look good doing it too 😉

Go somewhere she has always wanted to go.

As a rule of thumb, we suggest that you take your girlfriend somewhere she has always wanted to go, but never had the time. This can be anything from a trip to the beach or concert to an amusement park or weekend getaway at a fancy hotel. The point is for you both to enjoy yourselves and have fun together!

If you want to do something really special for your lady love on her next birthday, book tickets for her favourite band taking over the town in two weeks—but don't tell her about it yet! This will keep her on her toes during their concert date and make her feel loved after all this effort from you!

Take her on an unconventional date.

A unique date can be the perfect way to surprise your girlfriend on her birthday. When you take a girl out for the first time, you have to impress her and show her that you are not just any guy.

If she's never been to the place where you're taking her for dinner or drinks, then it'll definitely leave an impression on your woman.

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You don't have to go overboard with this one; just try something new and exciting! Even if what you choose is not extravagant or expensive, she will appreciate that special effort was made in order for her enjoyment - even more so when she realizes that all other guys wouldn't bother doing such things for their girlfriends' birthdays (or at all).

Get her a thoughtful gift.

When you're looking for the perfect birthday gift for your girlfriend, it's important to keep in mind that she will actually use and appreciate what you get her. A thoughtful gift is one that is special to you, but also something she will appreciate. You can take this a step further by making the gift yourself—this shows that you put a lot of thought into it!

A few ideas:

  • Paint her favourite picture of herself on canvas (or another medium) using watercolours or acrylics
  • Make a scrapbook filled with photos of your favourite memories together and write captions as captions were written back when people still wrote on paper instead of computers (which means they're handwritten)

Spend more time with her than you usually do.

As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. This is especially true when it comes to your girlfriend of four years who has been feeling neglected lately and has been complaining that she wants more time with you.

You could take her out for a fancy dinner or buy her a gift, but those are all things that have been done in the past by other people and they might not be as special to her as they once were. Instead, why not spend more time together?

Spend more time with her than you usually do. Make sure that each day you spend some quality one-on-one time with her before bedtime so that she knows how much she means to you—and how much fun she can be!

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important for couples to make time for each other even when life gets busy; this can help keep the spark alive in any relationship!

Do something out of the ordinary for the two of you.

  • Do something out of the ordinary for the two of you.
  • Go for a walk in the park, go for a hike, or get a babysitter and go to a movie.
  • Take your girlfriend to an art gallery or museum and look at all the paintings together.
  • Go to an amusement park that she's never been to before (but don't forget her birthday present).
  • Go see a comedian perform live with your girlfriend so that he can make jokes about how old you both are!

Bring her flowers or a small gift when she least expects it.

Flowers are a classic gift that any woman would love to receive on her birthday. The most important thing to know is what kind of flowers she likes best, so do some research and make sure you know your girl's favourite flower before you go out and buy it.

If you're not sure, ask her friends or family members what they think she would like.

Another thing you can do with flowers is getting creative with the presentation. You could wrap them up in cellophane and place them in a small box filled with tissue paper or put them in a vase and bring that to her house.

This can be done by asking the florist for help if you aren't sure how to arrange them yourself!

Don't forget to include a card or note explaining why they're special: "Happy Birthday" or some form of gratitude might be enough depending on how well you know each other at this point (if not yet).

Give her a private dance party.

If you want to surprise your girlfriend on her birthday, then the best way is to invite her over for a private dance party.

You could play some of her favourite songs, or even make up a song that describes how much she means to you. You can even put on some fancy clothes and dance with her. The most important thing is to make it special because after all, this is the woman who has been by your side since the beginning.

If she doesn't like dancing and prefers to sit back and watch others do their thing, then just make sure that she feels comfortable watching from afar before joining the fun!

Bring back an inside joke or happy memory from your relationship.

One of the best ways to surprise her is by bringing back an inside joke or happy memory from your relationship.

The best way to bring back a happy memory is by showing her something that reminds you both of that memory, like photos or videos. You can also share stories about how funny it was, and how much fun you had together.

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For example, if she always laughs when you say “I love dinosaurs” in a really annoying voice, then saying “I love dinosaurs” in your most annoying voice would be a great way to surprise her on her birthday!

You can make your girlfriend feel special without spending too much money

You can make your girlfriend feel special without spending too much money.

Spending time with her and doing something she has always wanted to do is one of the best ways to surprise your girlfriend on her birthday. You can also surprise her by buying her a thoughtful gift.

To make this gift special, you can add a personal touch that not everyone else will have thought of. For example, if your girlfriend likes chocolate then you could buy her some chocolates but add a personal message inside each box so that only they know what it says.


You don’t have to spend a lot of money to show how much you care about your girlfriend. If you want to do something special for her birthday, just think about what she likes and try to make it happen.

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