Will my solar system work during a power outage?
When you install a grid-tied system, the panels will still produce power, however without a battery system or a generator. The power produced by your system at this time will apply to the grid and toward your net metering, but will not be operational without backup.
In the event of a power outage, basic habits like charging a cell phone become essential. Most homeowners have no source of backup power when the grid goes down. Even homes with solar may lose power in the event of a grid outage since the majority of homes are grid-tied.
There are a couple of reasons that grid-tied systems don’t work in an outage; those being technical and safety reasons. Solar power output varies directly with sunlight levels. So, even if you disregard the need for efficiency, connecting this variable resource directly to your home’s electrical system would cause fluctuations in your refrigerator, your lights to flicker, and electronic equipment to short.
As for safety, during a blackout, the power utility sends out repair crews to find and fix the points of failure. This can jeopardize their safety if there is something generating power (like a solar array) leaking power onto the grid. Therefore, utility rules mandate that in the event of a power outage, solar arrays must automatically shut down.
Your typical generator can come in handy to help power simple things, like your refrigerator, or put a charge on your phone in the event of a power outage. However, when you install solar on your home, you also get the option of going hybrid with a battery storage system.
Solar batteries are used in off-grid systems as the “grid” itself. Solar batteries can also be used in a grid-tied system since solar batteries are filled and refilled before your system feeds into the local power grid.
So when the grid’s down, with the flip of a switch, a hybrid system springs into action, essentially becoming your own suburban off-grid system.
The cost of a battery system can run pretty pricey, typically around 50% the cost of an average-sized system. They come in handy in places that experience frequent blackouts and can prove to be immeasurably indispensable for some. Talk to your Reno Solar expert to discuss what benefits a solar battery can add to your personal power system to find out if the backup is right for you!