Hurricane Ian was a category 4 storm that hit Florida in 2022. It was the deadliest hurricane to hit the state since 1935.
Damages from Ian were estimated to be over $50 billion. Much of the damage was from flooding caused by storm surges of 10-15 feet.
One of the hardest hit areas was Fort Myers, Florida.
Yet, twelve miles away, a community called Babcock Ranch survived the storm relatively unscathed.
Babcock Ranch is a self-sustainable community.
During Hurricane Ian, none of the 5,000 residents of Babcock Ranch lost power, water, or internet service.
The developer of the community said, “We were in the bullseye.”
But Babcock Ranch was designed for Florida’s climate, built 25 to 30 feet above sea level to withstand storm surges, and with natural waterways for drainage.
The community has sustainable sewer and water systems, and all the electric and phone lines are buried underground.
The developer of the community said, “We are the first solar-powered town in America. We have a solar field that’s 150 megawatts.”
The community’s solar field has over 700,000 solar panels.
And they all withstood Hurricane Ian. Wind gusts reached over 150 mph but didn’t take a single panel out.
At one point, over 2.7 million Florida residents were without power, but none in Babcock Ranch.
These days solar power is a popular way to produce electricity.
But is solar itself enough to power your home?
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to use solar power as your primary source of energy.
Don’t overreact to weather:
If you live in an area of the country that experiences regular clouds and rain don’t let that stop you from considering solar.
You don’t need every single day to be bright and sunny for solar power to be effective. Solar power can still be generated on foggy or overcast days.
Plus, solar panels work just as well in cold or hot weather.
So, don’t overlook solar power just because you don’t live in the desert where it’s sunny and hot all the time.
Don’t connect to the grid:
When you have a solar power system you can have it connected to the existing power grid or use storage batteries.
If the system is connected to the power grid you can draw power from the grid at night when not generating solar power.
Or if you have storage batteries you can use them at night when there isn’t solar power.
The problem with connecting to the power grid is that if the grid fails you will be without power when you can’t generate solar.
Yet, if you have battery storage then you can draw from these even if the power grid fails.
If you are going to go completely solar, I would opt for battery storage backup. This will be more useful than connecting to a power grid that will likely fail at some point.
Batteries are a big deal:
If you decide to go with solar power, you should be prepared to conserve energy when operating off a backup battery.
This will be a nightly occurrence when there is no sunlight.
At a minimum, I would have two or three batteries for backup. You want to ensure that you have plenty of storage for nighttime.
One drawback to batteries is that they can be pricey. This is why many folks prefer to connect to the local electrical grid.
But this would defeat the purpose of being self-sufficient with solar.
If you are thinking about providing power to your house using solar alone, you should start preparing now.
To do this, start tracking how much power you consume each day and at night. Make conserving power a priority.
If you aren’t using something, keep it unplugged.
With the latest advancements in solar technology, it’s possible to go 100% solar when powering your home.
It won’t be cheap to get a system up and running but it could save money in the long run.
Plus, the next time a disaster knocks out the power grid you can keep the lights on with solar power and a battery backup.
And if you don’t want to power your primary residence on solar power…
You can always opt for a bug-out location that you power by solar, to keep you truly off-the-grid.