Do Solar Panels Work in Power Outage?

Do Solar Panels Work in Power Outage?
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Wondering whether your solar panels work when there is a power outage? In this article we will discuss whether solar panels work in power failure or not.

Your solar panels will work during power outage but your solar system might not work. If you have a solar on grid system installed at your home then your solar system will shut down the moment there is power outage, but if you have a solar off grid system or a solar hybrid system installed then, it will work even during a power outage. Let’s find out why this happens.

Do solar panels work in power outage?

The direct answer to do solar panels work in power failure? is Yes, solar panels do work during a power outage but your entire solar system might work or not depending on the type of system you have installed.

If you have a solar grid tied system installed at your place then it won’t work in power failure, but if you have an off grid or a hybrid solar system then it will work even in power outage and you can run your house appliances.

Let’s see why one system works and another doesn’t work and if you are going solar then which type of system you should install.

Why Solar On Grid System Doesn’t Work in Power Failure:

how-solar-ongrid-system-works-rooftop-infographics
Solar On Grid System Working Courtesy – Vikram Solar

A solar on grid system or a grid tied solar system as the name suggest is connected to the utility grid. How it works is, after installing grid tied solar system you will be having two source of power for you house. One will be the solar panels and other is the utility grid.

During the day when sun is shining your solar panels will produce electricity and you will consume whatever you need during that time and the surplus energy will be exported to the utility grid.

Then at night, when you solar is not producing electricity you will import electricity from the utility grid.

  • If power failure happens at night then anyways your solar panels won’t generate any electricity hence you won’t have any electricity to power your house and your house will be in dark too.
  • But if the power failure happens during the day when your solar panels is producing electricity, still you won’t get any electricity to power your house because, whenever there is power failure the maintenance crew is working on the grid to make it up and running.

Hence if your solar system pumps electricity in the utility grid the wireman working on the grid might get electrocuted. Hence for safety reason solar inverters are desinged with anti-islanding property which allows them to shut down automatically the moment there is power failure.

Once the power is back and grid is up and running your solar system will start automatically.

However if you want to power your basic house appliances even in power outage then there are ways for that too.

How to use solar system in power outage:

As we saw above that solar on grid system doesn’t work in a power failure, hence if you want to power your basic house appliances in a power outage then you should either install solar off grid or hybrid solar system.

A Solar off grid system, is an independent system which is not connected to the utility grid, hence whether there is power in the grid or there is power failure, it doesn’t matter to you at all.

However an off grid solar system should be designed in such a way that you have enough power stored in your batteries to power your basic house appliances for couple of days, in case of a bad weather.

hybrid-solar-system-working
Hybrid Solar System Working Courtesy – Go Solar Solutions

A solar hybrid system is perfect system for someone who faces 1 – 2 hour of power cut regularly and wants power backup for that. A solar hybrid system work like a normal grid tied solar system when there is power but in addition to that it stores electricity in the batteries for use in power outage.

Hence during a power outage your solar system will shut down automatically because of anti-islanding property, but you will have power stored in your batteries which you can use to run your appliances.

Which solar system is best for places having frequent power outage?

What I think is the type of solar system which you need to install depends on the frequency of power outage in your area.

  1. If you live in a place where there is power outage once or twice in a year, then I would say install a solar on grid system as it is the most economical system in the market and for the time when there is power outage just live with it.If it’s important for you to power security devices like CCTV, security alarm 24 by 7, then get a UPS with battery setup installed that will easily give you 4 – 5 hours of power backup.
  2. However if there is frequent power outage in your area like once every week for 2 – 3 hours then I would say it’s worth investing in a hybrid solar system. It will be expensive but you will get enough power backup to run essential house appliances.
  3. If you live in deserted place where there is no grid connectivity then solar off grid system is the only option for you.

Now that you know whether your solar system will work during a power outage, let’s discuss common question that people have about solar system.

Do solar panels work at night?

To generate electricity using solar panels sunlight needs to strike the solar cells, at night as there is no sun, no sunlight will strike the solar cells, hence your solar panels won’t generate any electricity at night.

All solar inverter automatically shuts down the moment sun sets and are turned back ON once the sunlight starts hitting the solar panels.

Do solar panels work in rain?

Solar panels use direct or indirect sunlight to generate power. Though they are most effective in direct sunlight, solar panels still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds.

Hence, your solar panels will work even in rainy season.

Average figures on solar panels generation during monsoon,

  • In cloudy days solar panels normally generate 30 % – 50 % of their optimum generation and
  • In heavy rain solar panels generate 10 % – 20 % of their optimum generation.

Hence be rest assured there will be at least some power production even in stormy rain.

So if in summer your 1 kW solar system was generating 4 kWh of electricity in a day then in cloudy weather the same 1 kW solar system will generate approximately 1- 2 kWh of electricity in a day, whereas in heavy rain it may generate 0.5 – 1 kWh of electricity.

In the table below you will find daily solar panels generation in normal days Vs cloudy days Vs heavy rainy days. The below figure are for Mumbai, India here we recieve around 300 sunny days in a year, if you live in a region where there are less sunny days then the generation figures will change.

Solar SystemDaily Solar Generation in Sunny WeatherDaily Solar Generation in Cloudy Weather (50%) Daily Solar Generation in Rainy Weather (10%)
1 kW4 kWh2 kWh 0.5 kWh – 1.5 kWh
3 kW 12 kWh 6 kWh 1 kWh – 3 kWh
5 kW 20 kWh 10 kWh 2 kWh – 4 kWh
8 kW 32 kWh 15 kWh 3 kWh – 6 kWh
10 kW 38 kWh 18 kWh 4 kWh – 8 kWh

This is just to give you a rough idea on what kind of generation you can expect from your solar panels during rainy season. To know more about this read this article.

Conclusion on do solar work in power outage:

In a nut shell. solar panels work in power outage but a solar on grid system will not work in power outage due to anti-islanding.

If you want to use solar power in power outage then you should install solar off grid or solar hybrid system.

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