Can I use solar during a power outage?

Solar panels

Installing a solar system has several advantages. But regardless of whether you have installed it for independent electricity production or saving energy costs, or want to contribute to protecting the environment, the intricacies of installing home solar remain the same.

People often wonder what will happen to their solar energy if ever they face a power outage. Power outages might occur anytime. It can be due to bad weather or overload on the primary grid.

Whether your solar system can sustain your home’s power depends on its type. Solar systems usually operate in two ways. One is the grid-tied system, in which the panels are directly connected to the primary grid, and another is the battery-back-up system.

What will happen to my system if it is grid-tied?

Unfortunately, if you have a grid-tied solar power system during a power outage, your system will not be able to supply energy. The module will automatically shut off when the light goes out. This is mainly for safety reasons.

Whatever the reason may be, a power outage means it is for the grid’s safety. Any kind of energy production or supply at that time might be dangerous for the entire network.

So companies shut off their production for the time being so that there is no problem in the long run. Hence, PV arrays also switch off so that it does not feed the electricity produced back to the grid.

Now you might ask then what the use of a grid-tied system is. The answer is its cost-effectiveness. Linking your solar panel to the primary grid is a significantly effective way to save money.

The grid serves as a potential storage for the energy produced by the panel. This energy can be supplied back to you when you need it. But it is not very helpful during emergencies like a power outage.

You can still generate green and clean energy. But since the grid has to abide by the government’s utility rules, you will not get electricity even if it is your solar power when the grid goes down.

Why can’t solar panels supply power during a power outage?

The only requirement for a PV module is to generate electricity in sunlight. Even if the grid goes down, sunlight is available. So why can’t the PV produce electricity during a power outage?

The reason is the way the module works in an on-grid system. The inverter converts the power generated by the panels and then transfers it to the house via the main line coming from the grid. If excess energy is produced, it is fed back to the primary grid, which stores it for later use.

During a power outage, the technicians work on the same line, feeding your house electricity. If the current generated by the array keeps passing through those lines, it can be dangerous for the workers.

Hence on-grid systems are designed in such a way that they will automatically shut down during a power cut.

From this knowledge, a quick answer to whether your solar array can provide electricity during a power outage is no.

However, you can overcome this problem. One way is to link a battery storage unit to your system or opt for an off-grid system.

How does battery storage work?

Installing a solar system is already an expensive undertaking. People often prefer to link their system with the primary grid to save money. This is the most cost-effective way to store the generated solar power.

However, this option is not very handy during power outages. If you live in an area where common power outages, you should opt for more efficient ways. One of them is installing a solar battery on the module.

A solar battery can be expensive, but it is a one-time investment. Also, Solar panels cost is a minor expense in comparison to the energy bill savings.

A solar battery will save your day when the lights go out without prior notice, which is always the case. It can store excess energy produced by your PV system. You can recover this energy during times of emergency. It works just like an electrical inverter.

If you are planning to install a solar battery for your rooftop solar PV system, then there are certain limitations that you must consider. The first and foremost factor is the cost. Purchasing a solar panel is quite expensive, but renewable energy cuts your carbon footprint.

A solar battery adds even more expense to it. Although most homesteads are installing solar batteries, their cost remains relatively high. Including a solar battery can increase the cost of your PV system substantially.

The primary determinant of the cost of a solar battery is its capacity or, in simple words, the amount of energy it can store. For a general idea, the price of a 9kWh solar battery in Australia can be around $12,000.

Due to their high cost, solar installers and companies often suggest their clients select a lower-capacity solar battery. It would be best to use the stored energy to power only emergency items when the lights are out.

This approach is more cost-effective. It is better than installing multiple batteries or high-capacity batteries. While a higher-capacity battery will help keep your house running like usual during an emergency, it costs you much more than what you intend to spend.

If you do not want to spend on solar batteries, you have the second option with solar generators. This is a less expensive option. You can get it for a few hundred dollars at your local hardware shop.

The main drawback of solar generators is that they run on fossil fuels. First of all, fossil fuels are becoming more and more expensive. Secondly, fossil fuels are non-renewable and using them can cause pollution.

So if you are an environment enthusiast, then it is better not to go for a solar generator.

Using an Off-grid solar system during a power outage

If you want to use your solar power during a power outage, another option is using an off-grid solar panel. This is by far the most expensive option. In this approach, you will need multiple solar batteries to sustain your house’s power during an emergency.

The main advantage is you can carry on your everyday life without worrying about depleting solar power.

But the drawbacks are serious. Using an off-grid PV module will give you complete energy independence, so you won’t have to pay a single penny for your electricity. But if your solar system does not produce enough energy, you will not be able to draw power from the grid.

It is like making your house wholly isolated from the electricity network. So, off-grid panels are not a wise investment always. It requires regular maintenance and the risk of a power outage for your house is even more.

According to experts, you must opt for an off-grid PV array only if you do not have proper access to the electricity grid and live in a remote area with an electricity supply problem.

Want the best solar solution for your house? Contact the experts!

Whether you want an on-grid solar panel or a solar battery will work for you better depends on certain factors. It is essential to assess these factors before concluding a decision.

For non-specialists, it can be challenging to determine what type of system will be best for them. Hence, it is better to call for the experts.

Solar Spirit is the most trusted solar technology company in Melbourne. We cover every aspect of the installation process. From selecting the correct size solar panel for your home to completion of installation, we handle everything.

Whether you need a solar battery or an on-grid system will be better for you, we have all the answers. You will make the wisest decision by purchasing solar panels from us.

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