What Does a Power Outage Look Like if I Have Solar Panels?
In the United States, power outages caused by severe weather or infrastructure problems are increasing in frequency. People are now looking for ways to avoid losing electricity due to outages. Most people will switch to off-the grid power systems like solar energy. But is this a viable option? What does a power cut look like if you have solar panels installed?
Are Solar Panels Able to Work During an Outage?
The only thing that a solar energy system requires to produce electricity is sunlight. It is not surprising that many people assume their solar panels will function during power surges. But that is not always true.
Simply put, the sun’s energy is converted to electricity by an inverter. This allows you to use it to power your appliances and home. The system will send excess electricity to the grid if your panels produce more electricity than you need. Your extra electricity can cause problems if the grid goes down.
Utility workers trying to repair the power assume all lines are dead. Your solar energy system is likely to continue supplying power to the grid. Inverters that convert solar energy into electricity are designed to automatically shut down when there is an outage in the grid. This protects both the workers and the grid.
What Can I Do with Solar Power During a Power Outage?
You can have electricity even if there is no power available. One way is to use energy-storing methods such as batteries or install off-grid solar panels. Let’s see how each one works.
Off-Grid Solar Energy Systems
To ensure enough electricity for power outages, off-grid solar energy systems need many batteries. They are generally more expensive than the grid-tied solar panel and therefore are not recommended for most homes. Off-grid panels also prevent you from drawing electricity directly from the grid if your system isn’t producing enough or the one you have has run out.
Off-grid solar systems can provide you with complete energy independence and allow you to use them even when the grid is down. These systems are great for remote properties, such as mountain homes.
Solar Energy Systems that are Battery-Backed
A grid-tied solar energy system will save you money. You can also install a storage unit to protect your home from power outages when using on-grid panels. It won’t cost as much as an off-grid system, and you won’t require as many batteries. One or two solar batteries may be enough for the average household.
There are some limitations to be aware of. Despite solar batteries becoming more affordable, they can still be very expensive and increase the cost of your solar system. A 13.5 kWh battery costs around $11,000, before any incentives. Many solar companies recommend that you choose a few items for which you need power, and then select the right battery. These items could include personal electronics, medical equipment, and emergency lights.
The Bottom Line
While solar panels will not work in an outage, there are still ways to store and utilize their energy. This does not mean that solar energy is less valuable for your home. Solar panels can help you become more energy-efficient and save you thousands of dollars on your energy bills. Solar Tech Elec can help you learn more about solar power.
This article was written by a solar expert at Solar Tech Elec. Solar Tech Elec is a premier solar installer in Florida with expanded services in North Charleston, South Carolina. They work with homeowners to install photovoltaic systems and provide them with a way to save money on their energy bills, protect themselves against rising electricity prices and be part of the solution for clean renewable energy.