Will Your Grid-Tied Solar Panel System Work in a Power Outage?

What will happen to your grid-tied solar photovoltaic system if a power outage strikes your area? Will yours be the only house on the block with electricity?

The answer is maybe.

Many solar panel systems do not work if the utility grid is down, but most can be set up to do so. Let’s take a look at what you can do to ensure that your home always has access to electrical power.

PV Systems and Grid-Tied Solar Connections

Grid-tied solar power systems are less expensive than their off-the-grid counterparts, as they require fewer components. Connecting your PV array to the grid gives you a reliable source of electricity at night and on cloudy days, when the photovoltaic panels are not as efficient.

The downside is that, when the utility grid goes down, so does the electricity in your home — even if the sun is shining brightly.

So why does your solar panel system shut down in a power outage? After all, your photovoltaic panels could function without the grid, right?

Actually, that’s the problem — if your system weren’t powered off, your panels would continue to produce energy. But because that’s not safe, your system automatically goes down whenever the utility grid does.

Why PV Solar Power Doesn’t Work in a Blackout

Why isn’t it safe for your photovoltaic system to continue working in a power outage?

Think about what happens to the excess energy produced by your system. When you’re connected to the grid, excess energy flows back for use by other utility customers.

Now think about what happens in a power outage.

Utility workers are sent out to repair the damaged electrical lines, transformers and other components. If your solar panels sent excess energy through the lines while the utility crew was attempting to fix the problem, someone could be seriously hurt.

For that reason, your system cannot continue to produce electricity when there is a blackout.

Back-up Options

Fortunately, it is possible to have electricity when the grid is out.

You could add a battery bank to your array to store power produced by your solar panels, or you could choose to invest in a gas-powered generator. But these options may not be cost-effective if your area is seldom affected by blackouts.

Recent technological innovations also have led to another possible solution.

New inverters have been developed that feature a secure power supply. This type of hybrid solar power system allows grid-tied solar panels to provide a limited amount of daytime power, giving the customer some electricity without sending any back to the grid.

Intermountain Wind & Solar is committed to providing our customers with the significant cost savings and energy independence that photovoltaic panels provide. But we also understand the importance of security and peace of mind. Because the U.S. power grid is deteriorating and vulnerable to attack, backup systems are an excellent way to ensure that you always have power in case of emergency.

Contact us today to learn more about adding backup systems to your grid-tied solar energy system.

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