Can I Go Off the Grid with a Solar Energy System?
by Kelly Anderson, on Feb 21, 2020 11:23:00 AM
Answering Your Solar Power FAQs
As a solar energy company based in Chicago, IL, we receive lots of questions about solar panels. One of our most frequent questions is whether or not a solar energy system lets you go ‘off the grid.’ Whether you want freedom from utility bills or to live a more sustainable lifestyle, there are many reasons people want to live off the grid.
So can you go off the grid with solar panels? The answer: it depends. Continue reading to see how solar energy and the grid relate so you can find the right solution for your home.
Will I Be Off the Grid?
To benefit from federal tax credits and net metering, you will still be connected to the grid. The energy your panels produce is sent to the network and allows you to draw from it when your system is not producing all of the power that you need. For example, at nighttime, your solar panels will not be producing any energy. But during the day when you create more than necessary, the excess energy is fed back into the grid and helps power your neighborhood.
Your utility company will give you a net metering credit on your electricity bill for this, and you can spend the credits to supplement your solar power with electricity from your utility company. If you don’t have any credits, you’ll simply be charged for electricity at the current rate. To go off the grid, you would need to completely sever your connection with the utility company, which will leave you without power most of the time.
However, it is possible to go off the grid with a solar panel system that includes battery storage. Sonnen and LG batteries, for example, allow you to use stored energy during peak electricity hours at night. Home batteries cost significantly more than your utility bills, though, and are not a solution for everyone.
What About in Blackouts?
If your solar panels are connected to the grid, it will shut off in the event of a power outage. This happens to prevent emergency responders and utility repairmen from being injured by your panels, sending power back into the grid. There are inverters you can purchase that provide backup power in the event of a blackout. But no, a standard system will not allow you to use energy during an outage.
Are you ready to bring solar energy to your Chicago, IL home? Contact us here to see if your home is a fit for solar panels.