solar panels

Will my solar panels work in a power cut?

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Solar energy and power cuts

As evidence of the impact of climate change builds, many homeowners across the UK are looking to reduce their emissions by installing solar panels. Around 1.28 million households now have them, and thanks to improvements in efficiency, they’re a better investment than ever. While many people opt for a hybrid system – where they still have access to the National Grid – those opting to rely solely on solar power may be wondering whether they will be able to avoid the impact of local power cuts. Here, we explore some key questions about solar panels and power outages.

Will I avoid power cuts if I have solar panels installed?

Most solar PV systems will not be set up to work during a power cut. This is a standard safety measure, designed to protect engineers working on the lines. While functioning, solar panels pass excess energy back to the Grid. If there’s a power outage, your solar inverter switches off so that anyone working to fix the outage can do so without being electrocuted.

However, the good news is that you can ask your solar PV installers to modify your system so that you continue to have electricity even when there’s a power cut. By having a solar battery and a relay fitted, your system automatically disconnects from the Grid during an outage. It can then direct energy stored in the battery to your home. If you choose this option, consider which appliances you will need during a power cut and base the size of your battery inverter on how much electricity you think you’ll need to use at once.

How long can your solar PV system power your home during an outage?

If you live in an area where there are frequent and/or prolonged power cuts, having a solar battery and relay installed will be of benefit. The average battery can store up to 8kWh of energy, which is enough to power a typical household for a day. Of course, it depends how full the battery is when the outage occurs, but by being mindful of your usage you can maximise the time that you have power. You’ll also need to ensure you don’t use multiple appliances at once and overload the battery inverter.

Will my solar panels charge my battery during an outage?

Your solar panels may not automatically be set up to continue charging your battery during a power cut, but it is possible. A reputable solar PV specialist in Kent, for example, can install a battery inverter with a higher capacity than the solar inverter. This ensures the battery won’t become overloaded and discharge all its stored energy when an outage occurs. If you live in an area where power cuts are often prolonged, configuring your panels to continue charging your solar battery could mean precious extra hours of electricity.

If you want to invest in a solar PV system, contact MCS certified solar panel installers. This will ensure the job is completed to a high standard and that you’ll be offered maintenance services throughout the lifespan of your system.

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