Many individuals and families are choosing to install a home solar system. Some choose this as a way to ‘go green’, others want to have the option of grid-free power. It’s tempting to jump on this bandwagon because what could be cleaner or cheaper than energy from the sun? All those rebates and other alluring offers from power companies and the government make it tempting to jump into solar head-first.
There’s a very good reason, however, to approach a solar system with caution. What most consumers don’t realize is that most solar systems are tied to the electrical grid. When the grid goes down, your solar power disappears. Typically, when a solar system is installed, one of the last steps is to connect the solar panels to the building’s electrical panel. Yes, you will get “free” solar power on days when there’s enough sun to generate that power, and when there’s not, electricity will flow into your home from the power company, but either way, your solar panels are hooked up to the same power grid as your electrical system.
Is there an option? Yes. Michael Cox of Survival Solar Systems says, “It’s possible to have a solar system wired separately from the grid through an inverter/battery bank, if you will. They do not need to be tied to the grid to function. The panels may be wired in separately from the grid power through an inverter or charge controller, storing the electricity in a battery bank and thus be autonomous. It’s also possible to have a stand-alone system to certain outlets only through an inverter, then the power can go off at will, and you will still retain your solar electricity.”
He goes on to say, “Some set-ups even have two sets of electrical outlets next to each other, one side for grid power and the other side for solar. In either case, no matter what the grid does will not affect you.”
So why don’t more people go for an off-the-grid system? All those enticing incentives that make solar more affordable apply only to the grid-tied systems! Solar energy can be a thing of beauty. Just be sure to thoroughly research any system you’re considering if being off the grid is important to you.
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