What Happens When the Grid Goes Down?

Grid Outage

We’re living in a connected era, and as such, we’re connected to power grids that can be disrupted. When they fail because of natural disasters or cyberattacks, the house of cards that is our society starts to come crashing down. Are you prepared for the collapse of the electrical grid? For most people, life as we know it would suddenly grind to a halt. No heat, no light, no refrigeration, and no ATMs.

It’s because of how a grid-tied solar system works. Sunlight hits the panels, generates electricity, passes through the inverter, and is used to turn on your lights or keep your food cold. When your panels are producing more electricity than you’re using, the extra electricity is pushed onto the electric grid.

If the electric grid is down and your solar system is pushing that extra electricity onto the grid, that’s a big problem. Utility workers are working on those same power lines fixing the issue to get the area back up and running. They are doing this with the assumption that the lines are dead. Electricity from your solar system would make that assumption incorrect and can cause serious problems. In order to protect the utility workers and the grid itself, all grid-tied solar energy inverters are required to automatically shut down when the grid goes down and the power goes off.

How to Use Solar Panels During a Power Outage

Whether you want to disconnect from the grid completely or just have a backup source of power when the lights go out, you can have both. You can design an off-grid solar system, where the solar panels operate without being hooked up to your utility company’s electrical grid. Or you can have an on-grid solar system, which connects your panels to the grid so that when there is no sun available your solar energy system will power your home or business.

Off-Grid Solar Systems

This is one of the primary reasons Off-Grid Solar is not a smart investment. The exact amount of batteries needed depends on the size of your solar array and how much electricity you use each day. If your system isn’t large enough to meet your energy needs, or if you use more power than what’s being generated from your panels, at some point you will have to draw from the grid again. However, for anyone wanting to live in a truly off-grid home, installing solar panels and battery back-up systems can help reduce their carbon footprint and save money in the long term.

Battery-Backed Solar Systems

With a grid-tie solar system, you can still keep your lights on in the home when the grid goes down. A grid-tie solar system is one that from which you can draw from during a blackout period. With an Enphase Grid Connect battery backup system, a grid-tie solar power production system sends energy to an inverter. The power is then converted to AC electricity and sent through electrical wires directly to your home’s electrical panels.

Solar batteries are energy batteries with integrated PV (photovoltaic) systems. These batteries help to reduce the solar energy system’s dependence on the power grid during periods of cloudy weather or nighttime. There are different types of rechargeable-battery storage devices, but the most common type is a lithium-based battery. With this type of battery storage, you can power your home at night or other times when there isn’t enough sunlight available to generate electricity.

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