Do solar panels provide electricity during a blackout? It’s a common question that has been on the minds of many homeowners who are considering making the switch to solar energy. The answer, unfortunately, is not a simple one. Here’s what you need to know.
Does solar work in a blackout?
No, solar power systems will not provide electricity during a blackout for both technical and safety reasons. Solar panels are designed to absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. When the sun is shining, solar panels will produce electricity after consuming a small amount of energy for their own operation. However, when there is no sunlight – such as during a power outage – solar systems will not be able to produce electricity. If you have a battery backup system, you may be able to store some of the electricity produced by the solar panels during the day so that you can use it at night or during power outages. However, battery backup systems can be expensive.
In some cases, solar panels may continue to produce a small amount of electricity even when there is no sunlight. This is because they can still absorb solar energy from artificial light sources, such as streetlights. However, the amount of electricity produced by solar panels in these conditions is generally not enough to power a home.
Because solar panels generate DC electricity and our household appliances require AC electricity, you cannot plug your solar panels into a wall outlet in order to supply electricity to your home.
A solar system is a great way to reduce your reliance on the grid and save money on your electric bill. However, they will not work during power outages unless you have a battery backup system. If you are considering switching to solar energy, be sure to do your research and talk to a qualified solar installer like Skyline Solar to find out if solar is right for you.
Batteries have recently begun to pique the interest of both the general public and the industry. With technological and industrial advancements, they’ve started to attract a lot of attention in recent years.
There will always be a need to isolate your system from the grid in the event of a power outage, for the same reasons as previously stated. A battery system, on the other hand, may deliver a constant and consistent power supply inside your premises.
Solar battery backup systems, such as the Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem, may be used to provide the required backup power supply for some or all of your home appliances when grid power is not available. Benefits of having a Tesla Powerwall include:
- You will still have power during a blackout. The Tesla Powerwall is backup power that can be used to run your home during power outages.
- The Tesla Powerwall can provide up to 5 kilowatts of continuous power, which is enough to run most appliances in your home.
- The Tesla Powerwall is designed to work with solar panels, so if you have a solar system, you may be able to use the power generated by the sun to run your home during power outages.
Technical & Safety Considerations
Whether you have a generator, an emergency backup system, or nothing more than electricity in your home, the power supply must be constant and stable. Your equipment and gadgets will at best not function correctly, and perhaps get damaged, if the power source is unsteady or intermittent.
The amount of sunlight striking your solar panels controls the flow of energy coming from them. Your solar system absorbs whatever power is produced by your panels and combines it with the grid’s electricity to provide a sufficient constant supply.
Of course, your demand for electricity varies with the seasons. Furthermore, if your solar panels work well and are producing more power than you require, the excess energy will be exported to the grid, resulting in you potentially earning money.
Because the grid may deliver much more energy than a solar system, it is effectively the backup source that maintains power flowing into a home. If the grid fails and can’t stabilise the energy supply, your solar system’s power input into your property would fluctuate significantly, perhaps causing damage to your equipment and appliances or community resources if you are in an apartment complex.
So your solar inverter isolates itself from the network to protect your home from damage.
Power outage repairs are carried out by your energy provider, such as Ausgrid or Endeavour Energy, after a power outage. It’s critical that they are aware of when and where the electricity is flowing in order to avoid harming them. If there is a local power supply, like a solar system generating an electric current that pushes electricity into the lines, their safety could be at risk.
Because of these two factors, solar installations must be automatically turned off in the event of a power outage under Australian Standards. Solar systems automatically turn off when the grid goes down to protect utility staff and customer possessions. In the event you have batteries on-site and a correctly designed system then the solar and battery inverters can switch to an “ islanding” mode which separates the grid from the house and stored energy can be used in the house.
What to do if you have a solar panel system and a power outage
If you have a solar panel system and a power outage, there are a few things you can do to stay safe and conserve energy.
- Do not try to connect your solar panel system to the grid during power outages. This can be dangerous and can damage your solar system.
- If you have a solar battery system with no back up it is recommended to disconnect it from the solar panel system. This could prevent your batteries from being damaged by a power surge when the power comes back on.
- Do not use candles or lanterns for light. Use flashlights instead. Candles and lanterns can be a fire hazard.
- Do not use your oven or stovetop to heat your home. Use a space heater instead.
- Do not open your fridge or freezer unless absolutely necessary. Every time you open the door, cold air escapes and the appliance has to work harder to keep food cold.
Why doesn’t my solar work when power is out?
When a power outage occurs, many solar energy systems cease to function. This is primarily because most solar installations are grid-tied, meaning they are connected to the utility grid. Grid-tied systems are designed to automatically shut down during power outages to protect utility workers who may be repairing the grid. This safety feature, known as “anti-islanding,” prevents excess solar energy from being fed back into the grid and causing potential hazards. To maintain solar power during an outage, homeowners can invest in a battery storage system or a hybrid solar system with a backup generator. These solutions allow for energy storage and continued solar power usage, even when the utility grid is down.
How to prepare for a power outage before it happens
Before a power outage happens, it’s important to take some precautions to make sure you and your family are safe and comfortable. Here are a few things you can do:
- Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared. This should include a flashlight, batteries, canned food, water, and a first-aid kit.
- Charge your phones and other devices so that you can stay connected in case of an outage.
- Learn how to manually open your garage door in case the power goes out.
- Do some research on solar battery backup systems for your home so that you know what to do if the power goes out.
- If you have a medical condition that requires electricity, make sure you have a backup plan in place.
- Talk to your family about what to do in case of a power outage. Make sure everyone knows where the emergency kit is and how to use the flashlight.
We hope this article has been useful for understanding what happens with solar panels during a blackout. We’ve touched on how solar panels work and when they automatically shut down, the benefits of battery storage and how it can power your home during blackouts as well as technical and safety considerations for the electric grid and utility workers. As always if you want to speak to licensed solar installers about specific solar systems and/or what solar battery might be best for your home give the team at Skyline Solar a call today!