Many people never think about their electricity until it is gone. After extended power outages, we always see increased interest in solar installations as consumers seek ways to keep the power on.
But do solar panels protect against blackouts?
The depends on the type of solar system you have installed. In the sections below, we’ll highlight the two types of solar installations and discuss which type protects against blackouts and which does not.
Traditional Grid-Tied Solar Electric System
A traditional grid-tied solar electric system, by far the most common form of installation in the United States today, is the simplest and most cost-effective option for home and business owners. These systems tie into the grid and use the grid to supplement energy when necessary and provide all power at night when the panels no longer produce energy.
The appliances in your home require a steady supply of electricity to protect the sensitive electronic components inside. Solar is an intermittent power source, so grid-tied systems rely on the grid to regulate the amount energy supplied to your home to ensure there is a safe and consistent level of electricity feeding into your home.
Since these systems rely on the grid to regulate the power supply, your system shuts down when the grid goes down, protecting the electrical components and appliances in your home. Further, a grid-tied system sends any excess electricity produced back onto the grid. This can make wires that were thought dead by electrical workers live and can result in very serious injury or even death, so your system must shut down to prevent this from occurring.
In short, these type of systems do not protect you from blackouts.
Solar Electric System With Battery Backup
Solar arrays with battery backup systems can be grid-tied as well and enjoy the same net-metering benefits that an exclusively grid-tied system offers, but they also have the added benefit of being able to operate independent of the grid itself. A solar array with battery backup systems will supply excess energy to the batteries in your battery bank and once they receive a full charge, excess electricity can be sent back onto the grid for credit from the local utility company.
When the grid goes down, the system draws power from the battery bank and any excess electricity is used to recharge the batteries.
For those that want to ensure they have a safe and reliable source of energy even when the grid goes down, a battery backup system will provide that, but they come at a cost and require more frequent maintenance than a solar array without a battery backup system. Battery banks need to be replaced every 8-10 years while systems without battery storage systems can be virtually maintenance free for 25 years or more.
In short, these kinds of systems do protect you from blackouts, but they require significantly more investment.
Want to Learn More About Solar in San Diego?
If you are considering installing solar and want to learn more about solar installation in San Diego and the surrounding area for your home or business, give us a call or fill out a contact form on the right. Our solar technicians can discuss the options that are available to you, assess your home’s solar potential, and even provide you with production and return on investment estimates!
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