Does a Home Solar Energy System Work When There’s a Blackout?

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We have all experienced the unexpected blackout. Without a doubt, being without power can be frustrating and disruptive – preventing you from cooking, working and yes, enjoying time in front of the TV. One of the most common questions that homeowners have when they are considering the investment of a solar energy system is, “Will I have power if there’s a blackout?”

First, it’s important to remember that there are many advantages to installing a grid-connected, home solar energy system. Not only will you be saving money on your monthly utility bill, you’ll also be reducing your environmental footprint. However, having the advantage of solar power in a blackout is only possible if you have some form of energy storage.

Technical and Safety Considerations

There are two reasons why most solar systems do not work during a power outage. These involve safety and regulatory issues.

First, the electronics that control a solar electric system continuously adjust voltage and current to keep panels operating efficiently. This means the system must be able to produce quantities of power that aren’t dependent on how much your house is using at any given time. With a grid-connected system, excess power is put onto the grid for others to use, and your utility company credits you for that power.

Because solar power output varies depending on the level of sunlight, the variable levels of power would result in lights blinking and damage to appliances and electronics. Utility rules require that solar arrays must shut down to protect workers who are finding and fixing points of failure. Home solar energy systems have detectors that determine whether power is coming across the grid and when grid power is down. When it is down, the system shuts down, too.

Batteries

Battery backup is an option if it’s essential for your home or business to be powered during a blackout. Yet, it’s important to note that battery storage increases the cost of solar. Batteries also negate the “clean” aspect of your system. Because they have a short life and are heavy and bulky, most homeowners and business owners choose not to rely on battery backup.

Have more questions about solar energy for your home or business? Call the expert team at Cool Blew Solar today.