Solar Dips: How Eclipses Affect Your Solar Panel Output

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    The celestial skies have a spectacle in store for us in the coming years, and while it’s undoubtedly exciting, many of you might be wondering what it means for your solar panels. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of solar eclipses and how they affect solar power generation!

    Ring of Fire vs. Total Eclipse: What’s the Difference?

    The “Ring of Fire” and the Total Eclipse represent two mesmerizing yet distinct solar phenomena. In a “Ring of Fire”, or annular eclipse, the moon covers the sun’s center, leaving a radiant outer ring visible, hence its evocative name. On the other hand, a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon entirely obscures the sun, casting a brief and dramatic daytime darkness on Earth.

    Annular Eclipse 2023

    Annular “Ring of Fire” Solar Eclipse (2023): On October 14, 2023, the moon will move between the Earth and the sun but will not cover the sun entirely. Instead, it will leave a dazzling “ring of fire” surrounding the moon’s silhouette. It’s a breathtaking sight where the moon appears slightly smaller than the sun, creating a radiant halo.

    Ring of Fire Eclipse

    The path of the annular eclipse will cross the following U.S. states:

    • Oregon
    • Nevada
    • Utah
    • Arizona
    • Colorado
    • New Mexico
    • Texas

    Where Should I Go to View the 100% Annular Eclipse in Oregon?

    The path of the annular “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse on October 14, 2023, as it travels through Oregon, will be specific to a relatively narrow band where viewers will be able to witness the full annular eclipse. Outside of this band, viewers will only see a partial eclipse. 

    The major Oregon cities that the annular eclipse path will cross are:

    • Corvalis (Most North of Shadow)
    • Eugene
    • Springfield
    • Coos Bay
    • Roseburg
    • Medford (Most South of Shadow)
    2023 Oregon Annular Ring of Fire Eclipse Path Map

    Total Eclipse 2024

    Total Solar Eclipse (2024): Just as it passed over southern Oregon in 2017, fast forwarding to April 8, 2024, we’ll witness the moon completely obscuring the sun, causing day to turn into night for a short while. This phenomenon is a total solar eclipse, where the moon’s apparent size is large enough to fully cover the sun. Unfortunately, the 2024 total solar eclipse will not pass over Oregon. You’ll have to travel to one of the states below to witness it.

    The path of totality for the total solar eclipse will cross these U.S. states:

    • Texas
    • Oklahoma
    • Arkansas
    • Missouri
    • Illinois
    • Kentucky
    • Indiana
    • Ohio
    • Pennsylvania
    • New York
    • Vermont
    • New Hampshire
    • Maine
    Total Solar Eclipse

    Have Utilities and Electrical Grid Operators Planned for the Eclipse?

    Absolutely! Solar eclipses, while astounding, are predictable events. Utilities and electrical grid operators have ample time to prepare for the temporary drop in solar power production. Adjustments are made in power sources, tapping into alternative reserves or stored energy to ensure continuous power supply. As homeowners, you won’t have to worry about any major disruptions.

    How Solar Eclipse Will Affect Solar Homeowners?

    For homeowners with solar panels, the solar eclipse will result in a temporary dip in power generation. But, fret not! The duration is relatively short, and the overall energy loss is minimal in the grand scope of yearly energy production.

    Remember the 2017 total eclipse in Oregon? Despite the state being a major solar energy producer, grid operators managed the event seamlessly. The eclipse caused a loss of about 13% of the region’s solar generating capacity, but energy storage systems and other power sources stepped in, ensuring no disruptions.

    nrel study showing how solar eclipses affect solar power generation

    Source: NREL (2018)

    Eyes to the Skies: Safety First!

    While your solar panels take a short break, you should absolutely take a moment to witness these rare celestial events. But safety comes first! Just as in 2017 during the Great American Solar Eclipse, you’ll need special solar eclipse glasses to view the event. Regular sunglasses won’t suffice; these glasses are specially designed to protect your eyes from harmful solar radiation.

    Where to Buy Eclipse Glasses:

    Now, where to buy eclipse glasses? That depends on how much time you have before the eclipse. If you have a week or more time, ordering online is feasible. With a week or less, we recommend stopping by a physical store to grab yours. 

    Please note: the closer to the eclipse the prices may increase. In 2017, it became hard to find any eclipse glasses and the price was $15-$20 each.

    Online

    You may find a lot of options alone, but here are a few that stand out from the rest.

    • SungazeGlasses.com – stands out as a comprehensive resource for learning about eclipses, and they proudly sell certified glasses, such as the Bill Nye plastic eclipse glasses, crafted by the renowned American Paper Optics.
    • EclipseGlasses.com – is a go-to source for certified eclipse glasses, merging safety with clear visibility for all major solar events
    • RainbowSymphony.com – excels in providing a diverse range of eclipse glasses and viewers, emphasizing both safety and an enhanced viewing experience for astronomical enthusiasts.

    In-Store

    Here are two local stores that we know of that sell eclipse glasses. Your big box stores may have them, but we like to support local-area businesses. We hope you can, too!

    China Foods Inc.

    A local Asian restaurant supply store located in Portland.

    • Price: $10 Each. 
    • Address: 1414 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97216 (Google Maps)

    Northwest Arsenal

    An indoor shooting range located in Eugene.

    In Summary

    The upcoming solar eclipses in 2023 and 2024 are nature’s magnificent displays, and while there will be a brief dip in solar power generation, the overall impact on your solar panel investment is negligible. Energy storage systems are equipped to compensate for any power loss during this time.

    We encourage every homeowner to marvel at these rare celestial events. Prepare, take safety precautions, and revel in the beauty of our universe!

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