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Power outages and solar

When the weather takes out all the power in your home, it’s often more than just a temporary nuisance. It can actually be quite dangerous.

And, if the electricity grid is all you rely on for power, you may find yourself out of options. As big storms in New Zealand happen more frequently, it stands to reason that power outages will increase as well. And if the storm is severe enough you could be in a situation without power, along with no access to food and drinkable water.

There’s a great solution: take control of your power with a solar energy system that includes battery storage with an EPS (Emergency Power Supply).

Solar power in case of emergency: The details

New Zealand’s recent major storms of 2018, such as the ex-cyclone Gita that bore down on Christchurch and surrounding South Island areas in February and the severe April storms that cut power to more than 100,000 Auckland households, are proof that good energy backup systems are very important for Kiwi families to have.

With a solar installation, you can meet your basic power needs at home in harsh weather seasons, and even keep the lights on in a blackout. But you need the right setup...in particular, you’ll need a solar battery with an EPS*.

Here’s why: a typical solar system is grid-tied, meaning that excess solar power that you don’t use during the day is ‘stored’ in the utility grid for your usage at night, or for selling back to your utility company for credits.

However, should the power go out, your solar system’s inverters are automatically shut off to prevent surges that endanger power line repair workers. That means your home won't have access to the grid.

This is not the case with a system with a Emergency Power Supply (EPS) capability. With the right system set up, in the event of an outage, the grid is bypassed and power can be drawn from the battery.

With the right system components, such as an EPS with a double socket or a change-over switch to power a chosen circuit*, you could run essential appliances when the power is out in your area. Depending on the battery’s capacity and by being careful with consumption, you might be able to meet your most important power needs at home for several days.

While you might think of going hybrid before installing a solar system, you might be wondering if your existing solar installation can take a battery. No worries: just about any typical home solar system would qualify.

It’s important to budget for the largest capacity you can afford (as batteries can be quite expensive), and to look for a long lifecycle and a solid warranty. The power consumption of your ‘critical load’ devices — such as your refrigerator, water pump, and heating system — is also crucial in determining the capacity you’ll need.

Ever wondered how you could store and sell electricity from solar? Read more about how this works, here.

Reasons why it’s important to think about solar battery backup

Preparation is essential because a power out can affect your life in more ways than one — often in ways we don’t think about until it happens.

Emergency workers may be hard pressed to get to your home in the wake of devastating weather. Restoration of utilities can take more time than expected.

Even after the skies clear, trees can fall on power lines and the local grid can be overburdened, causing the kind of residual blackouts seen in the April 2018 windstorms.

For homeowners who want to stay in control of their energy, solar power with backup is essential. Hybrid solar reduces your chances of being affected by the big storms and power outages that will continue to be part of New Zealand life. Your home can keep humming along, no matter what Mother Nature hurls at your neighbourhood.

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* Additional cost will apply. Our solar consultants will price the system based on your requirements.