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Every solar energy system is customized based on many different factors, including your electricity needs, home structure, utility company rules, state and federal incentive programs, geography and topography. System production may be decreased by several factors that would affect the production guarantee. Refer to your specific installation agreement for exclusions and/or other factors.
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For more information about the Illinois Shines Adjustable Block Program by the Illinois Power Agency, please read the Illinois Shines Brochure.
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How Often Do Blackouts Happen
California residents and those in hurricane prone areas should expect to see more blackouts in the future. But exactly how common are outages now?
The US Energy Information Administration tracks this data and reports on it annually. In the United States in 2016, the average customer experienced 1.3 blackouts and went without electricity for about 4 hours every year.
These statistics vary quite a bit by state. South Carolina experienced more than 20 hours of outages in 2016 while Nebraska residents went only 27 minutes without power.
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Heat Is Bad For Solar Panels
If you ever take a look at the specification sheet for a solar panel that you plan to buy, you will find acronyms. Lots of acronyms.
An important one to understand is STC, which stands for Standard Test Conditions. The nameplate wattage rating of a solar panel is based on this test, which measures the panelâs output at a solar cell temperature of 25Â°C and a light intensity of 1,000 W/mÂ² .
25Â°C is a little higher than room temperature, and the critical thing to know is that this is a measurement of the solar cell temperature, not the air temperature.
Why is this important? When a dark solar cell is sitting in the sun for a few hours, it will get hot – a lot hotter than the surrounding air temperature. If a solar cell is operating at 25Â°C, the air temperature is likely going to be quite a lot cooler.
A bright sunny day with cold air is the ideal operating condition for a solar panel, because solar cell efficiency drops as it gets hotter. In the real world, perfect conditions like this are rare – think of those gloriously crisp, sunny days in late winter or early spring. But solar panels cooking in the hot sun are the norm, and itâs a key reason why your 6 kW system will rarely produce 6 kW.
Instead, you should look at the PTC, NOTC, or CEC test ratings listed on the specification sheet. These tests try to reproduce more realistic conditions by measuring the air temperature instead of the cell temperature. The NOTC test also lowers the light intensity to 800 W/mÂ².
How Can Prospect Solar Help
The experts at Prospect Solar are adept at solar panel installation in Northern VA, DC and Maryland. We provide solar energy installation for homes, businesses and farms. Additionally, we provide services like Green Roof Integrated Photovoltaic and information on Community Solar.
As leading solar providers in Northern VA, DC and Maryland, we take pride in our residential solar energy installation services. We aim to install a solar energy system that provides both clean energy and a decreased cost. Prospect Solars solar panel installation for Northern VA and beyond is engineered to be less expensive over the course of 25 years than conventional energy would be in that 25-year span.
Additionally, our solar energy services give homeowners access to net metering. Net metering makes it possible to credit power and reduce monthly electrical costs.
Although your solar panel system will not function during the rare power outage, solar panel installation is overall a lucrative investment that not only helps cut down your energy costs but helps promote a greener planet.
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What Are The Sizes And Dimensions
Home battery storage system size is largely dependent on your specific energy needs. Almost every battery storage provider offers a scalable technology and designs products according to your energy use and home needs. For the typical home, a garage or backroom will provide sufficient space to install the battery. Your storage provider can help you select appropriate placement for your battery storage unit.
How To Use Solar Panels During Power Outage
When a storm or wildfire occurs in an area, power outages can affect millions of local customers. If you have solar panels installed at your home, you might wonder if your solar solution can shield you from the inconvenience of a blackout. Do solar panels work during a power outage? The answer is yes if you have a battery backup or an inverter. In this article, well take a closer look at these solutions and understand how they can help you retain power during a blackout.
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Why Dont My Solar Panels Generate Power During A Blackout
One of the key parts of a solar energy system is the inverter – or inverters, if you have microinverters or a large system with multiple strings. In a grid-tied system , the inverter must synchronize the timing of its alternating current frequency to the frequency of the electric grid AC power.
It does this by âlisteningâ to the signal from the electric grid and adjusting its frequency to match. If an inverter canât detect a signal from the grid, it will shut down automatically. If it didnât, it would send power into the grid and potentially electrocute utility workers who are repairing the grid and expect the electricity to be off.
Because of this feature, when grid power goes down, your power shuts down, even if thereâs plenty of sunlight for your solar panels.
An Example Of Low Power Output
Lets play pretend and say you have just had a brand new solar power system with 6.5 kilowatts of north facing solar panels and a 5 kilowatt inverter installed. Its 3:30 in the afternoon on a sunny clear day when the installer switches on the inverter to show you its working. But despite being surrounded by brilliant sunshine you are disappointed to see your brand new, perfectly clean, 6.5 kilowatts of solar panels are only producing 2.4 kilowatts of power. You might think youve wasted your money on a bum system but fortunately this is almost certainly not the case.
- If its 3:30 in the afternoon then depending on the time of year the afternoon could be more than half over. This will cut the output of north facing panels by more than half. If its winter then the sun will be lower in the sky, further reducing output.
- Even if the air temperature isnt high panels can still get hot in the sun and this will reduce their output. The effect will be worse if there is no wind and on a mild day may cause losses of 8%.
- Unavoidable wiring and inverter losses may reduce power output by 5% or more.
- While the skies may look clear they could be hazier than usual, cutting output by a few more percent.
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Battery Storage Can Rescue The Grid
Grid power is failing,9 and not just in California. In some places our power grid is over 100 years old.10 If we dont start using renewable energies like solar energy or wind now, blackouts and outages could cause catastrophic damage.11
But there is a solution. If utilities build new infrastructure to support sustainable energies and solar-powered battery storage,12 we can get closer to making blackouts a thing of the past. Sunruns Brightbox home solar battery storage service is here to help make it happen.
Why Don’t Solar Panels Work During An Outage
There are two main reasons why solar panel systems cease functioning during a blackout. One has to do with your equipment and the other has to do with the safety of power workers.
From a technical standpoint, the electricity generated by your solar panels isn’t constant and varies depending on things like time of day, shade and so forth. Similarly, your power needs aren’t constant, and will change as you switch appliances on and off.
With the grid active and working, this isn’t a problem. The energy from your solar panels combines with energy from the reservoir of the power grid to supply a steady level of power to suit your needs. With the grid off, this isn’t possible, so your solar panels shut off automatically to avoid delivering too much or too little power and damaging the electronics in your house.
Less complicated, but no less important, is the fact that often when the grid goes down it will require some form of inspection or maintenance. All the power flowing into the grid must be cut off to lower the risk of electrocution for any workers involved with its repair.
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What Are The Benefits Of Pairing My Home Battery With Solar
Pairing your battery with solar provides benefits during outages and everyday life.
During an outage:
Pairing your battery with solar can enable you to recharge during the day as long there is sufficient sunshine to extend your homes backup power for potentially multiple days. How long your system will provide backup power depends on your battery size, critical energy needs and, if paired with rooftop solar, weather conditions.
Talk to a battery storage provider to learn more about your specific needs and options.
On an everyday basis:
If you are on a Time-of Use-rate or Home Charging rate, your battery can charge when electricity is cheaper and discharge electricity for home use when electricity from PG& Es grid is more expensive. When paired with solar, a battery can help you get the most bill savings under Net Energy Metering and optimize the carbon-reduction impacts from your solar system.
PG& E recommends that you review the expected financial return on solar batteries prior to investing in a system.
Power Your Home With Solar In A Blackout Without Batteries
You can partially power your home with a grid-connected solar panel system during a blackout without a battery. Heres how it can be done.
One of the important safety features of a grid-connected PV system is when the grid is down, the systems solar inverter will shut down too. If systems continued to export electricity to the mains grid during a blackout, this poses a major risk to workers attempting to fix the grid and could damage grid hardware. This safety feature is called anti-islanding.
To have access to electricity generated by your solar panels during a blackout, usually whats required is an energy storage system. However, this isnt always the case for example, if you have a Delta E5 inverter.
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Solar Battery Keeps Your Electricity Going
All the solar systems that Solar Energy World installs are battery ready but the majority of solar powered homes do not have a battery back-up system and are still connected to the power grid, which is how net metering works. When solar panels produce electricity, it flows into the grid, and the production is monitored and credited to a homeowners account .
This is how excess electricity is stored, and it is how a home that may not be 100% powered by solar panels maintains power. Being connected to the grid means that the power supplied by the solar panels on your home flows back into the electrical grid.
Power outages are usually due to a disruption somewhere between the electricity supplier and homeowners. The power plant may still be fully capable of producing electricity, but there is a breach in the system that prevents the supply from reaching the consumer in that service area. Solar powered homes that are connected to the grid contribute to the production of electricity, but are not immune to blackouts that affect the entire community.
The only way to reduce your risk of suffering through a blackout is to store the solar power your system generates on-site. Doing so requires the installation of a solar battery backup system. This can add to the cost of going solar, but it does mean that your home will continue to run on electricity even when the rest of the neighborhood cannot.
Why Do Power Outages Happen
Lightning is the main cause of outages, but other weather related occurrences like heavy winds, rain, snow or ice also could wipe out your power.
Car accidents can also lead to power outages if poles or power lines are damaged.
And if natural causes werent enough, your utility company regularly plans routine outages for maintenance. Even one tiny squirrel could wipe out energy for an entire neighborhood!
All these reasons are just regular things. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes or other natural disasters, you know the damage that is caused by being out of power for days, weeks or months. And in the recent years, events that lead to blackouts have been on the rise.
Power outages when youre grid-tied are a way of life, but there is a way out.
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Advantages Of Using A Battery
Also referred to as a hybrid solar system, the battery-backed solar panel system features some unique benefits such as
Economical than the off-grid solar panel system
Compared to the off-grid system, the hybrid solar panel system is highly affordable when installing and maintenance. When using this system, you will not require a backup generator, and you can also reduce the size of your battery.
It is much promising.
Even though not most homes are equipped with a hybrid system, it features a lot of potentials. It is by far one of the best transition systems to smart grids of the future.
Financial Incentives Include Battery Systems
If youâre seriously considering a battery system, youâll be happy to know that the 30% federal tax credit also applies to your battery system. This means that the substantial upfront cost of a solar battery is reduced by at least the federal tax credit, and possibly other state and local incentives as well.
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The Role Of Energy Storage And Solar
In addition to an inverter, homeowners who truly want to thrive off the grid typically install some sort of energy storage system. These are battery storage units that back up your PV system and store power that you can use as needed.
How much power an ES system provides depends on the capacity of the batteries. You can create a setup that powers your entire home for a predetermined amount of time or one that just provides interim power for essential appliances, Glaser says. “The primary limitation here is budget, he explains. “Bigger backup systems are more expensive.”
When you need the power, though, an ES system is invaluable. Most ES systems automatically kick-on when the grid goes down, and the transition is often so seamless that homeowners may not even notice theyve shifted power sources.
Things That Reduce Your Solar Power Output
Looking at the power output of your solar system under good conditions can let you know if it is working well. But it is difficult to be certain if your system is performing poorly just from looking at power alone. This is because there are so many things that can reduce its power output without there actually being anything wrong with it. These include:
- The angle of the sun: When the sun is low in the sky, whether due to the time of day or the season, less power will be produced.
- Solar panel orientation: Panels facing east or west will generate less power than those that face north.
- Clouds and haze: Less sunlight reaching the panels means lower power output.
- Heat: High temperatures reduce panel efficiency. In a heatwave, solar panels can reach 65 degrees and this can reduce power by 20% compared to panels that are at 25 degrees.
- Wind: While sunshine heats panels a nice breeze helps cool them down.
- Dirt: Bird poo, leaves, and grime in general can greatly reduce output.
- System losses: Wiring resistance results in about 2% of power being lost while modern inverters often have losses of 3-4% as they change the DC power from the solar panels into the AC power homes use.
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