Power outages related to severe weather and infrastructure problems are becoming more frequent throughout the United States. As a result, people are looking for ways to prevent losing electricity during outages, with most of them switching to alternative, off-the-grid power systems such as solar energy. But is that a viable solution, and what does a power outage look like if I have solar panels?
Will Solar Panels Work During an Outage?
Generally speaking, the only thing a solar energy system needs to generate electricity is sunlight. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that people assume that their solar panels will work during a power surge. However, that’s not always the case.
To put it simply, after the sunlight gets converted into electricity, it passes through an inverter and can then be used to power your home and appliances. If your panels generate more electricity than you can use, the system will send the extra to the electric grid. When the grid is down due to an outage, your extra electricity can cause some problems.
Utility workers who are trying to fix the power assume that all the lines are dead. Yet, your solar energy system is more than likely still pumping power into the grid. As a result, in order to protect the workers and the grid, solar energy inverters are designed to shut down automatically when there is a grid-related power outage.
How Can I Use Solar Power During a Power Outage?
There are two ways you can still have electricity even during a power outage: using a method of energy-storing, such as batteries, or installing off-grid solar panels. Here’s how each of them works.
Off-Grid Solar Energy Systems
Off-grid solar energy systems require numerous batteries to guarantee that enough electricity is stored for the night, cloudy days, and power outages. Therefore, they are often more expensive than grid-tied solar panels and are usually not worth getting for most homes. Not only that, but off-grid solar panels prevent you from drawing electricity from the grid whenever your system doesn’t produce enough, or the stored one has run out.
Yet, off-grid solar systems will give you complete energy independence, allowing you to use them when the grid goes down. They are ideal for properties in remote areas, such as mountain cabins.
Battery-Backed Solar Energy Systems
If you are looking to save money, a grid-tied solar energy system is usually the better option. When using on-grid solar panels, you can install a storage system to protect your home in the event of a power outage. And since you won’t need as many batteries as an off-grid system does, it won’t be as expensive. In fact, one or two solar batteries can be more than enough for an average household.
However, there are a few limitations that you need to consider. Although solar batteries are becoming more and more accessible, they can still be quite expensive and drive up the cost of your solar system. For example, installing a 13.5 kWh battery can cost around $11,000 before incentives. That’s why many solar companies will recommend that you select a few items to which you want to provide power and choose a suitable battery for them. These items can include medical equipment, personal electronics, refrigerators, or emergency lights.
The Bottom Line
Overall, while solar panels won’t work during a power outage, there are ways you can store and use their energy. Keep in mind that this does not make solar energy any less valuable investment for your home. In fact, solar panels can save you thousands of dollars in energy bills and help you become energy independent. Make sure to contact Atlantic Key Energy if you want to find out more about the benefits of solar power.