One of our most commonly asked questions is: When the power goes out, will my solar system still produce energy?
This is not an unreasonable assumption and it would ease many homeowner’s minds to be immune from power outages, not to mention protection from the grid going down during a natural disaster.
We have to consider the utility company involved with the much-more-affordable grid-tied system. They require a specific type of inverter that allows your electrical production to flow from the solar array to your house OR if you are over-producing, to the grid. This arrangement is called “net-metering” meaning that you get credit for the electricity you put back onto the grid. Net-metering is quite necessary when you consider the need to make up for night time and rainy day power usage. The grid-tied net-metering inverter must shut down during a power outage for safety reasons. When the grid is down and crews are sent out to repair it, electricity from solar arrays can’t be allowed to feed into the grid. Not only is this back-fed electricity dangerous, it could literally kill someone working on the lines.
The inverter used for a grid-tied system is more affordable than the more sophisticated off-grid inverter. An off-grid inverter stores excess power in batteries which supply power during a power outage.
Why not set up an off-grid system? Many people do, however, the cost of the batteries to store the excess electricity doesn’t make financial sense for homeowners who are primarily concerned with saving on monthly utility payments and freeing up cash-flow. Off-grid systems do have many useful and economical applications for those living in remote locations, have additional power generation needs on their property or who are dedicated to off-grid living.
Have questions? Please call us at 951.677.2006 to chat about your solar options!