Does solar work during a blackout?

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Suppose your home experiences a blackout, and you wonder why your solar panels cannot operate your home's electricity requirements. In that case, you may consider purchasing a solar battery to partner with your solar panels.

A hybrid solar system or battery-coupled system can be utilised to store extra energy produced by the solar system and draw electricity from the batteries during a blackout.

However, there are drawbacks to using solar batteries in a hybrid system, such as protecting battery life during extended blackouts or cloudy conditions.

Before installing a solar battery system, it is crucial to consider the size of the battery bank and the home's needs in terms of energy consumption.

Will my solar system give me electricity during a local blackout? 

When an unexpected disaster occurs, such as a blackout, renewable energy solutions, such as solar, can keep your electricity on even though the grid is down.

Counterintuitive, isn’t it? So first, you go to the trouble and expense of your own little solar power station, and then you have no power if the electricity grid goes down.

However, while a standard solar system is not enough to keep your lights on, if you incorporate a battery storage system with your home solar system, you will stay powered up during a blackout. 

Since your grid-connected solar system, as the name implies, is wired to the grid of your specific electricity company, when the power goes out due to a line fault or power overload, your panels will still produce energy, but your inverter will shut the system off the grid, meaning you lose the house electricity, like everyone else. 

This means that your solar system itself will not work during blackouts. You may wonder why your solar panels won’t work during a blackout if sunlight is all needed to generate electricity. Would this not be the best time to get solar support for your premises? 

man working on electricity cables for a home after blackout
Only completely off-grid solar systems will function during blackouts

Why is your system turning off?

This is because of how grid-tied systems are designed. Sunlight will beam down on the panels they use to generate DC energy converted to AC energy through the inverter and then used by household appliances.

When your solar panels produce more electricity than you are using, this extra energy is transferred back to the grid. Imagine that the grid goes down, and the sparky climbs up a local power pole to fix the offending transformer or wire. Now imagine several homes in the street, all merrily feeding 240V electricity back into the grid from their solar panels. Your sparky is going to get one hell of a shock!

Also, when the grid infrastructure detects a fault, the transformers and other equipment on the grid shut down for their protection. So you could destroy that equipment if you force electricity into it from your solar system.

So let’s look at how a combination of two energy products, the PV and a storage battery systems, can work together to use solar energy during a blackout. 

The most common solar system installation is a grid-tied solar system. However, a hybrid solar or battery-coupled system is another commonly available option.

What if you have one or more home batteries

Installing one or several batteries will allow a homeowner to store the excess energy generated by their solar system rather than send it back to the grid. In the case of a blackout, you can isolate your solar system via the hybrid inverters’ blackout protection function.

Your home will then draw power from your batteries without harming utility workers. Although this sounds good, solar batteries in a hybrid system carry some limitations, depending on the size of your battery bank.

For example, if the grid is down for a prolonged period, you will only have the solar system to charge the batteries. Additionally, overcast and rainy weather can compromise PV generation capacity, requiring battery preservation.

A blackout is a time to preserve electricity, even if you have a battery and solar combo. It’s not the time to bake cakes on the electric stove, have all the neighbours over, and organise a “We have no blackout” – show-off party.

Batteries can also support your electricity consumption at night. Therefore, if you believe that you consume a large amount of your energy at night and want to feel secure with your energy when there is a blackout, consider purchasing a solar battery to combine with your solar system.

It will protect you from ever-rising electricity bills.

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