There are three different types of solar power systems—off-grid, hybrid, and grid-tied. As the name implies, grid-tied systems are connected to the city grid. They use that as a backup power source when active solar energy is unavailable. They may also be able to send excess energy to the grid for utility credits that will reduce the owner’s electric bill. But is it possible to disconnect from the city grid and run on solar power alone? Keep reading to find out more.
Why You Might Want to Disconnect
First, it’s important to consider why a solar user might want to disconnect from the city grid. If they’re considering permanently disconnecting, it’s likely because they want more independence in their energy consumption. This would mean transitioning to an off-grid system, which will be discussed more below.
However, it’s also possible that you just want to temporarily disconnect from the grid. Some solar users want to do this during a power outage; even if the outage happens while the sun is shining, grid-tied systems will shut down during an outage for safety purposes. This can be frustrating, and you feel like you’re wasting your solar energy, and you may want to disconnect just until the grid gets back online, so you can continue using the energy your panels are producing. Let’s discuss if this is a possibility.
Disconnecting from the Grid
Temporarily disconnecting from the grid sounds simple. So long as the sun is shining, you should just be able to flip a switch and rely on that solar power alone instead of being connected to the grid, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. If you want to disconnect from the grid even temporarily, you’ll need a complete hybrid system if the grid goes down. That means a different type of inverter and an expensive battery backup system. If you only want to use those batteries during a grid outage, it’s generally not worth the cost of adding this and creating a hybrid system.
Alternate Backup Power
If you’re concerned about having power when the grid goes down during the day, a better alternative might be to find a generator that can connect to your solar inverter. While you still would not be able to use your solar power, in the event of a power outage, you can hook up your generator to power your home, usually with just a few gallons of fuel a day.
If you want to be able to consistently rely on solar power instead of needing the grid every night, a hybrid SMA solar inverter and battery bank would likely be the better choice.