Backup & Solar for Nevada Earthquakes

Nevada Solar Facts Blog
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Solar and emergency preparedness: 7 must-have items infographic

As a solar company, we leverage nature to create energy. However, we also respect the force of nature when manifested in natural disasters like earthquakes, which is why we have solar products to help homeowners prepare for these events. Like most important things, emergency preparedness may not seem important among the many urgencies in day-to-day life for Nevadans.

However, those who did not prepare for emergencies before they occurred never tell themselves in the wake of earthquakes’ destruction how glad they were to have been underprepared for the worst. It’s an unfortunate fact of life for Nevadans that the Silver State is more earthquake-prone than any other state — save Alaska and California. Given the recent earthquakes in the Lake Tahoe area, Nevadans need to prepare for emergencies, as earthquakes are unpredictable. With that in mind, we want to offer some recommendations for keeping your home safe and your essentials powered during natural disasters.

Recent Earthquake Rocks Lake Tahoe, Nevada

On May 28th, 2021, an earthquake struck under Lake Tahoe, clocking it at a magnitude of 4.2. While no injuries or damage were reported, it still scared many Nevadans. Even more concerning, is the fact it is just the latest in a series of earthquakes that have occurred on or around Lake Tahoe. Just weeks earlier, on May 6th, a number of earthquakes shook the area just north of Lake Tahoe, capping it off with a magnitude 4.7 quake. 

Why does the Lake Tahoe area have so many earthquakes? Part of the reason is that dozens of active faults (a fault that has caused an earthquake) are scattered across Nevada. A fault, a crack or break in the crust, where tectonic plates are pushed against each other. These plates build up energy, then shift and release that energy in the form of an earthquake. While there are many active faults in the Western US, the seismic tectonic plates in the Lake Tahoe area have been far more active than others.

Nevadans have more to worry about than tectonic faults. Sometimes faults in California, such as in Death Valley, can cause earthquakes hundreds of miles away in Nevada. This is because most parts of Nevada are in a basin of some kind. “Sediment in basins amplifies the seismic waves,” says Collin Jensen, a geologist for the USGS (United States Geological Survey), “which causes more shaking than we’d see with solid rock.”

A Tsunami in Lake Tahoe? It’s More Likely Than You Think

A tsunami on a lake may sound like fantasy, but it can happen. “Tsunamis are normally formed by thrust faults,” Jensen stated. “But a large enough earthquake on the normal faults… can cause a tsunami too.” And, indeed, Nevada has thrust faults down in the southern and western part of the state, and at least three fault lines run through Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area. The power grid is fragile in the face of natural disasters. In Reno, coal-fired power plants may shut down at the slightest hint of a natural disaster — such as an earthquake. A potential tsunami could add flooding, which would wipe out power in its wake. But not all is doom and gloom. There are steps that you can take to prepare for potential disasters.

How Solar & Backup Can Help Nevadans in Earthquakes

One of the many perks of solar power is that it can keep working in situations where the power grid may be down. A Reno, Nevada home with a solar installation can keep power running to critical devices, such as medical devices, cooling systems, communication tools, and other equipment These benefits are magnified when the homeowner installs battery backup with their solar power system since it allows excess solar produced by the home’s solar panels to be stored for use at a later date, which would come in handy in the event of an earthquake-induced grid failure.

How Solar and Battery Backup Keep Homes Running in Natural Disasters

The most useful function of solar power in a potential natural disaster is that it will continue to power your home during the day and can be stored at night in a device like the Tesla Powerwall. Solar panels are sturdy. Every type of panel goes through rigorous testing to ensure that it can withstand inclement weather like hail and as many natural disasters as possible. This means that it’s going to take something seriously catastrophic to interrupt your solar power supply. An earthquake or flood probably won’t cut it, unless they knock down your entire house or reach a very high magnitude on the Richter Scale — in which case you’ll have much bigger problems than interrupted electricity flow.So during the day, you’ll have a constant supply of energy, courtesy of the sun. But what about at night, or during bad weather? With battery backup, you’ll have nothing to worry about, especially if you add more panels to your roof than usage history would otherwise merit.

Go Solar Group offers several levels of battery backup for a solar power system. Each one is built with specific needs in mind. If you only need a few items powered in a potential emergency, such as a phone or a laptop, our Level 1 battery backup system comes with a Goal Zero Yeti 1500x or Yeti 3000 portable battery. Equipped with a number of different ports and plugs for maximum flexibility, it offers the ability to store up to 3 kWh and to charge many different things at once. Level 2 battery backup takes it a step further with the addition of up to four tanks to your Yeti, which can give it the ability to store up to 7.8 kWh. This is for those who may need to power multiple large items at once, such as a fridge and freezer. Finally, for those who wish to power their home in perpetuity, even when disconnected from the grid and for longer periods of time, we offer our Level 3 system is the Tesla Powerwall 2, the premier whole-home battery backup option. While not as mobile as the portable Goal Zero Yeti battery, a single Tesla Powerwall 2 can store nearly twice as much electricity as the Level 2 backup option. Two Powerwalls are usually enough to power the average home, which means that, when coupled with solar for the home, brings you as close as possible to energy independence as possible. This is requisite in securing your Nevada home for the worst.

What Else Can Nevadans Do to Prepare for Emergencies?

Having a continual power supply isn’t the only thing Nevadans will need, should natural disaster strike. With that in mind, Go Solar Group has put together a list of emergency essentials. In the event of another earthquake, remember to stay at home. Sheltering in place (or heading to your home quickly if nearby) is one of the best things Nevadans can do in the event of an emergency. It keeps the streets and sidewalks clear for emergency crews. Secondly, ensure that you have at least three days’ worth of non-perishable food. Having a stocked fridge and freezer won’t help if they lose power. Having several days’ worth of food on hand will keep you away from potentially dangerous crowds at supermarkets. In a similar vein, keeping several days’ worth of water is essential — particularly in a hot, dry state like Nevada.

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