Solar Backup System Powers through Hurricane Sandy with Sunny Centrals

When Hurricane Sandy struck the town of Bayonne, New Jersey, on October 29, power from the entire grid was lost in an instant. The power even went out at Midtown Community School, a functioning public elementary school that also served as one of the town’s emergency evacuation centers. 

Losing power at an emergency evacuation center could have been devastating to the residents who depended on it for shelter, food and water.

Fortunately, this was not the case.

Due to a commercial-scale solar backup system installed at the school in 2004, power was restored and the lights stayed on for evacuees at Midtown Community School for the duration of the storm.

SMA Sunny Central 125U solar inverters.

The innovative backup system, installed by Advanced Solar Products, utilizes a diesel generator along with two Sunny Central 125U commercial solar inverters. The system acts as a micro grid and is one of the only of its kind that works with a diesel generator to provide backup power.

The Sunny Central inverters sync with the generator so that the system automatically detects grid outages. The use of solar power reduces dependence on diesel fuel, which is nearly impossible to obtain during a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy.

“In the case of Hurricane Sandy, a lot of companies were limited by how much diesel fuel they could get delivered, but Midtown Community School significantly cut the amount of diesel it needed to keep the lights on by using our inverter system, which ended up saving them a lot of money and hassle,” said Lyle Rawlings, president of Advanced Solar Products, in an article.

Thanks to the backup system, Midtown Community School was able to maintain power for more than a week after the storm hit while so many others were, sadly, still without power.

This system is an excellent example of how solar can be used for emergency power supply when the grid goes down. Systems like this can change the future of energy use if we begin to rely less on the grid and more on renewable energy.

Solar Spotlight aims to highlight SMA inverters in real-world situations. Email us with information about your SMA-powered PV projects at

  1. Chris
    Chris says:

    Would this mean a LPG generator might be a better application? Considering the constant (or hopefully constant) supply of fuel maybe negate the issue of running out of diesel.

Leave a Reply
Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>