How To Use Solar Panels During a Power Outage
You may think one of the best benefits of solar power is that you will never have to worry about blackouts and power outages. However, this is actually dependent on the type of solar panel system in which you invest. Read on to learn more about the different types of solar panel systems and how to use solar panels during a power outage.
Grid-Tied Solar Panel Systems
Most solar panel systems are grid-tied, which means they’re connected to your local power grid. These systems will shut down in the event of a power outage. Regardless of whether the power goes out in the middle of the night or in the afternoon on a sunny day, energy won’t flow into your home.
On their own, these solar panels won’t work without a connection to the grid—however, that’s not the only way to set up your solar panel system.
Why Don’t Panels Work?
Your panels won’t provide power during a blackout as a safety measure—if your system doesn’t work, it can’t send harvested energy to the site of the power outage. This allows utility workers to fix power lines without worrying about electrical currents flowing through them.
Benefits of Grid-Tied Systems
Before we discuss the alternatives to grid-tied systems, it’s important to understand why these are the most common type of solar panel setup—it’s not without good reason.
One of the most common reasons people choose to keep their systems tied to the grid is the significant price difference. The other setup options, hybrid systems and off-grid systems, are significantly more expensive because they require additional components. Grid-tied systems give you everything you need to enjoy the benefits of solar power without adding accessories that aren’t strictly necessary.
Of course, that’s not to say that grid-tied systems are cheap. Any quality solar panel setup is going to come with a significant investment, but grid-tied systems tend to provide the quickest financial turnaround. Most American households actually pay off their solar investment within a decade of installation.
A Stable Fallback
Not every solar panel system will have the capacity to match your energy needs 100 percent of the time, especially during the hot summer months when you need to run your air conditioning 24/7. When your solar panels can’t quite pull their weight, staying on the grid is a great way to ensure your home has power at (almost) all times.
Blackouts will affect your home, but you won’t notice it when your system switches from panel power to grid power.
There is another end to the solar energy spectrum—producing excess power. Without a solar battery to store the excess power, where does it go? If your power grid has a net metering program, you can actually sell your extra power to the grid. This is a great way to earn back extra money to help pay off your solar panel investment sooner. Familiarize yourself with New Mexico’s net metering laws and start making money!
Considerations for Grid-Tied Systems
Benefits are one thing, but what else do you need to know about grid-tied systems? There are only two other factors to consider: you don’t have total energy independence, and power outages will affect your home. If these drawbacks don’t bother you much—and, let’s be honest, power outages are an infrequent concern—grid-tied solar panels are probably right for you.
Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems
When the power goes out and you’re off the grid, you won’t even realize there’s an outage. Because your home is completely disconnected from your local grid, the goings-on around the power grid won’t interfere at all with your home’s power.
Benefits of Off-Grid Systems
Off-grid solar panel systems have a few great benefits that grid-tied systems simply do not.
Energy independence is a big consideration for some people as they don’t want to rely on a grid for their power. After all, what happens if there’s a massive problem with the local grid? If your home is power independent, it won’t affect you in the slightest.
Some locations don’t have the option of grid connectivity. If your home is in a remote location, you may not even have an alternative to off-grid living. Fortunately, off-grid solar panel systems bring power where it couldn’t otherwise go.
Considerations for Off-Grid Solar
If it sounds like off-grid solar is full of nothing but benefits, here are a few things to take into account before you request a quote for an off-grid solar panel system.
First, the price is higher. In order to facilitate an off-grid system, you’ll need a solar battery. This device stores excess power and saves it for nighttime or a literal rainy day. Solar batteries aren’t cheap—attaching a battery to your system can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the system and battery you choose.
In addition, off-grid solar panel systems do not come with a fallback. While you have a battery to pick up slack when there are a few cloudy days in a row, weather anomalies do happen. If you run into bad luck and experience two weeks of clouds and rain, your battery won’t have enough energy stored to power your home for the entire duration.
In other words, just because your power doesn’t go out when the grid fails doesn’t mean your power will never go out.
For anyone who wishes they could enjoy the benefits of grid-tied and off-grid systems, we have good news! Hybrid solar panel systems take the best of both worlds and put them into a single system.
Your home will stay connected to the grid just in case your panels can’t produce enough power, but thanks to solar batteries, you can primarily maintain energy independence. No matter which system is right for you, the best solar installers in Las Cruces can help you put it all together.
Now that you know how to use solar panels during a power outage, decide whether you want a grid-tied, hybrid, or off-grid solar panel system. No matter which you choose, the team at NM Solar Group is happy to answer any questions to ensure you have the best solar panel system money can buy. Contact us today. We can’t wait to hear from you!