11/28/12

Getting Solar Systems off the Grid

You would have thought, when Hurricane Sandy knocked out power on Long Island and the Jersey Shore, that the hundreds of solar panels mounted on rooftops there would have provided backup power.  But that's not what they were wired to do.

Most of those systems were wired to send their excess power to the utility grid during the day and pull electricity off the grid to power the house at night. So when the storm took down power lines and substations across the Northeast, these solar homes lost power too.

There are other ways to wire a solar system, including adding batteries to the system to store the excess solar power and using freestanding solar generators and charging stations.

Across affected areas of the state, solar energy companies are donating equipment, like the mobile charging station at Beach 91st Street in Rockaway Beach, to meet emergency generation needs and act as storm backups in the future.

Decentralizing power generation and storage can help ease the burden on the grid, but for now, it's still centralized.

That's changing, though. There are solar systems available that will allow solar panels to take over during a lengthy power outage, generally in combination with battery storage, and run a house 24/7.  This kind of system takes a separate electrical panel and a more sophisticated inverter capable of switching the power flow to the house.

Adding battery storage to an existing solar system costs from $500 to $30,000, depending on the size of the array and how much stuff you want to run off it.

Demand for battery backup will grow as extreme weather events become more frequent.

Electric vehicles can be used instead of batteries as backup power sources.  A charged-up electric car could run a house for days.

The article from the New York Times.

1 comment:

Martin Clooney said...

Solar Power is getting much more attention than before, it is been as the major power source of future.

Off Grid Solar Systems

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