Yesterday, hurricane season began in the Atlantic: During this time of year, many of you living on the east coast may experience power outages, often combined with high winds and flooding. Unfortunately, most of you don’t have your sump pumps hooked up to a backup power system, and so when the power goes out, you’ll have to be protecting your home in addition to ensuring the safety of your family.

The beauty of emergency battery backup systems is that you don’t have to worry about your sump pump shutting off and you can still operate your critical loads when the grid is down (depending, of course, on the size of your emergency power system). By “critical loads”, we mean the appliances/machines that are “critical” to staying in your home during a power outage. These “critical loads” often include refrigerators, sump pumps, landlines, and electric space heaters.

A typical battery backup system explained by Independent Power Systems CEO, Tony Boniface

With most solar electric systems, when the grid goes down (during a power outage), the electricity in your house goes out as well. That’s where emergency battery backup comes in. For example, let’s say you install an emergency battery backup system in Boston, at the same time you install a solar power system on your roof. Financially, (until 2016) you get to deduct 30% of the cost of your system (including the emergency battery backup) through a 30% Federal Tax Credit. You are then able to take advantage of Massachusetts solar incentives.

What happens when there’s a power failure?

While the rest of the neighborhood loses power, all you see is a flicker of your lights that lasts a fraction of a second, which signals that your inverter has started using backup battery power. Depending on what you chose as the size of the backup system, you may have enough stored energy to power your whole house for a few days, or you may only have enough stored energy to power critical loads. With the smallest backup systems, you may just have enough stored energy to power your sump pump. You can use your stored energy from the batteries during the night and use the energy from your solar panels during the day, while the solar panels also recharge the emergency batteries.

To learn more about emergency battery power click here. If you’d like tips on flood preparation, download our flood preparation guidebook, which also has a section explaining more about backup power systems.