What Happens to Solar Panels During a Power Cut?
With solar panels, you can take control of your energy production, reduce your dependence on the regional power grid, save money, and do your bit for the environment.
However, solar panels also come with challenges. One of the biggest questions for new solar customers is, “what happens to my solar panels during a power cut?”
In this article, we’ll take a look at how solar panels function during a power cut, whether they are a good alternative to traditional energy during this time, and the steps you need to take to make your home resistant to power outages.
Will My Solar Panels Work During a Power Cut?
Solar panels can generate electricity with nothing more than sunlight, so it’s natural to assume they would be able to function as normal, providing your home with light, warmth, and electricity even when the power grid is unavailable.
However, there’s a problem with this.
Your solar system does not always use all the electricity it produces. When your supply of energy exceeds your need, your solar system passes the excess energy to the grid, and you can receive compensation for this. It’s a way of ensuring no power goes to waste and maximizing the cost-efficiency of your panels.
Usually, this process works without issue… unless there’s a power cut. When the grid goes down, maintenance workers show up to repair the problem and get things running again as quickly as possible. If your panels are continuing to pump electricity into the grid while people are working on it, it can be extremely dangerous.
As a result, solar energy inverters are forced to shut down whenever the grid as a whole goes down. In other words, when the overall grid is unavailable, your solar panels stop working and you’re left in the same position as everyone else.
Pretty frustrating. But is there a way to maintain your solar power even when the grid has a power outage?
How To Make Sure Solar Panels Continue To Work During a Power Cut
Here’s some good news — there are steps you can take to maintain your solar energy production and keep your home supplied with energy even during a power outage. Let’s take a look.
Use Solar Batteries
Solar batteries are one of the most effective ways to weather the storm of a power cut with your solar system. Solar batteries allow you to store excess energy from your panels and access it at a later time when your panels aren’t producing sufficient energy. This can be during the night, during periods of low sunlight, or during a power outage.
The cost of solar batteries depends on a few different factors, like your location, the type of batteries you use, and how much storage capacity you need. When you have to rely on your batteries, such as during a power cut, it makes sense to ration your energy usage and only use electricity for things you need.
Move To An Off-Grid Solar System
Off-grid solar systems are essentially a more sophisticated extension of the solar batteries method. They require enough batteries to ensure your home can be powered for long periods of time by relying purely on the surplus energy your panels generate. In theory, this allows you to completely eliminate your dependence on the grid, so power cuts are no longer a concern.
In practice, off-grid solar systems are extremely expensive. Costs vary based on the size of your home, your location, and your energy usage, but can easily exceed $20,000 for a standard Australian home. If you live in an area that’s prone to power outages, or a very remote part of the country, an off-grid system may make sense, but for most people won’t be worth it.
Install A Backup Generator
A backup generator based on fossil fuel energy, typically gas, is a good emergency option for when your panels no longer work. Generators are fairly affordable, with simple ones costing just a few thousand dollars, and they offer reliable energy when your panels and the grid are no longer doing the job.
Many generators are capable of powering your entire home for a prolonged period of time, so they make an excellent backup plan. Of course, they rely on non-renewable energy so they aren’t the most sustainable or environmentally-friendly option, but they make a great plan B when you have no other option.
It’s All About Preparation
As you can see, a power cut doesn’t have to mean you’ll be plunged into total darkness for hours on end if your home relies on solar power. There are several methods that allow you to keep the lights on even when the grid is down.
At SnapSolar, we help households and businesses in Queensland work out the best solar plan for them. We can help you decide the best backup plan for power outages and how to put it into action. Contact us to learn more.
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