Not to start off on a political note, but… A recent speech by US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia) demands a rebuttal. At a fundraiser a couple of months back, Greene gave an impromptu speech condemning the concept of solar power - based on a load of inaccuracies. It's captured here on YouTube:
Greene seems to be convinced that using solar power would not allow one to use appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. She's also convinced that she'd have to "go to bed when the sun sets," because she's convinced that solar power simply wouldn't work at night.
We're not here to throw political shade, but we are obligated to correct factual inaccuracies when we find them. So, join us on a fact-finding mission to answer the question: "Will solar power supply my home with no disruption in my usage?"
Solar Plus Storage Uses Batteries
"Solar Plus Storage" is the new renewable energy paradigm. The fact is that solar power generation during daytime hours can not only meet, but far surpass your household needs. This recent Wired article tells one home-owners' story of going from a scarcity mindset to splurging electricity like it, well, came from the sun:
"I no longer walk around finger-wagging at my family members. Want to blast the AC? Crank away. It’s coming from the sun, and I can’t use all that electricity even if I try. And I’ve tried! I’ve charged an electric bike, run multiple loads of laundry, had many computers and a game system and a TV going, and still those panels were kicking out a net surplus. I’ve idly thought of running a power strip out to the sidewalk with a sign saying "FREE ELECTRICITY," just to be the Johnny Appleseed of solar."
If you are generating more power than you can use, typically the power gets sold back to the power company and deducted from your normal power billing. However, there is another option: Solar batteries. These new appliances are becoming available for home-owners. Here is a list of several of them, including one made by Elon Musk's company Tesla.
You can also opt for a solar-plus-storage system when getting your home converted to solar power. This is simply a system integrated with the solar panels to store unused electricity, keeping it on tap for night, rainy days, and even blackouts.
The US federal website energy.gov has a nice breakdown of solar-plus-storage for those seeking deeper information. Ask your solar panel installer what options are available.
Even Without Batteries, You Can Still be Powered By The Grid
To correct another misconception, just because your solar panel install isn't sufficient to provide all your electricity (say if your roof is badly placed or doesn't get enough sun) doesn't mean that you'll be in the dark. Your local electric utility doesn't show up with a backhoe to cut the power lines to your home the day you install solar. Instead, your home is provided by a dual system, using both the grid and your solar array.
When your system is generating net surplus power, that gets sold back to the energy company. When you're running at a deficit, the power keeps coming to your home from your utility the same way it always has. This is how every home using solar panels is set up.
Your Biggest Appliances Can Run On Solar
One more misconception is that solar power is somehow limited to minor electric usage, while being incapable of running larger appliances.
It is true that washing machines and clothes dryers create a power spike when they first turn on, and this can be problematic - but not unworkable - for an off-grid system. But a larger capacity system can handle a washer-dryer combo just fine. The fault lies more with the manufacturers of appliances, which in the past were never assumed to run on solar.
All you have to do is search around the Internet and you will find people running washers and dryers off the grid using solar power. Indeed, here is a car wash and a laundromat in NYC side by side, both running from solar:
The fact is that it doesn't matter what source the electricity came from. It's just a matter of having enough solar capacity. Given enough energy generation and storage, you could do anything electricity can do. You can even fly around the world!