Alternative energy has become very popular in recent years, and it will probably continue as people become more aware of the dangers of climate change. If you want to get into the trend, you can start using a solar system for your house.
Solar energy is abundant, making it one of the cheapest sources of energy. But if you are still new to solar panel systems and do not know how to use solar panels during a power outage, let us help you with this article. By the end of it, solar panels and power outages will no longer be complicated.
- What You Will Need
- Step By Step Guide on How to Use Solar Panels During a Power Outage
What You Will Need
For your house to be powered by your solar panels during power outage, you will need to make an off grid system by using a battery generator. Your solar panels energy production will fluctuate during the day, so a battery generator will ensure that your appliances will have a steady flow of electricity.
That being said, these are the materials we are going to need:
When it comes to residential use, typical solar panels will range from 200 watts to 400 watts. The higher the watts, the more energy you will produce, but the more expensive it will be.
If you have a large area for your solar panels, having low-powered solar panels may be okay. But if not, it would be best that you opt for the expensive ones.
For example, let us say that you are planning to have a 6kW solar system. If you are using a 200-watt solar panel, you will need 30 of them. But if you have a 400-watt solar panel, you would only be using 15.
Solar charge controllers
When it comes to solar panel systems, you cannot connect your solar panels directly to your batteries. Solar panels will have fluctuating voltage throughout the day, and they may pass beyond your batteries’ safety limit.
So to prevent that, we are going to use a solar charge controller. It will not only regulate the voltage of your solar panels but will also prevent your batteries from overcharging and discharging when sunlight is low.
Since we are building a solar system for your house, choose an MPPT charge controller. Why? Because whatever the maximum voltage your solar panels produce, all power will still be converted to match the safety limits of your batteries.
Cannot have a solar battery generator without batteries, and before you buy batteries, you have to properly size them first. The size of the battery will determine how many appliances you can run during a power outage, so it would be best that you calculate the total energy of the appliances you want to be powered by your battery generator.
There are mainly two types of batteries you will come by, the lead-acid battery and the lithium-ion battery. Since you will be using your solar system for your house, you should choose a lithium battery. Lithium-ion batteries surpass lead-acid batteries in the life cycle and discharge capabilities.
You cannot directly connect your battery to the circuit board of your house because your house runs on AC power and your batteries have DC power. So we will have to convert the energy of your batteries into usable electricity and for that, we will need an inverter.
When buying an inverter, you will have to size it properly too. To do so, calculate your power consumption and then divide it by the efficiency of your inverter.
So let’s say that you need 600 watts of power, and the efficiency of your inverter is 80%. Then your inverter should at least be 750 VA. There are 850 VA inverters available in the market, so this should not be a problem.
Oh, and one last thing, make sure that your inverter has the same voltage as your battery.
AWG cables and a circuit breaker
All devices need to be connected to work, and the wires we suggest you use are AWG cables since they are very durable. The different devices will need different wires depending on their amps, so here is a simple guide to help you.
- 3/0 gauge – 200 amps
- 1/0 gauge – 150 amps
- 3 gauge – 100 amps
- 6 gauge – 55 amps
- 8 gauge – 40 amps
- 10 gauge – 30 amps
- 12 gauge – 20 amps
- 14 gauge – 15 amps
For your circuit breaker to be sized properly, you will look at your inverter’s maximum continuous current output. Then multiply it by 125%. If you get a. 5 in your result, round it up. If not, round it down. That will be the size of the circuit breaker.
Step By Step Guide on How to Use Solar Panels During a Power Outage
If you have now readied all your materials, you are ready to start making a solar battery generator. Just follow the steps below.
Step 1: Charge your battery.
Before we do anything, first we have to charge your batteries. We do not know if your batteries can be fully charged by solar panels in their first use since there can be many factors that can affect energy production, like cloudy days and shade.
You could accidentally fully discharge your battery. Lithium batteries are durable, but they should only be discharged up to 70% of their capacity.
Step 2: Connect all your batteries.
After your batteries have been fully charged, you can now begin to connect them. Your inverter will draw a lot of power, meaning a great amount of current will flow on each battery, so it would be best to connect them with a 3/0 or 1/0 gauge.
Just connect the batteries in parallel so we can preserve their voltage.
Step 3: Connect your batteries to your solar charge controller then your solar charge controller to your solar panel.
After connecting all your batteries, get your solar charger and connect it to your batteries. Make sure that it is the DC output of your solar charge controller that you have connected. Since you have more than one battery in your battery bank, make a positive connection on one end and a negative at the opposite for balance charging.
After that, connect your solar panels to the DC input of your solar charger.
Step 4: Connecting your battery, inverter and circuit breaker
By this point, you already have a solar-powered battery charger. So, connect your battery to the DC input of your inverter. Connect the positive to one end and the negative to the opposite end of your battery bank.
Then connect the AC output to your circuit breaker, so if ever there is a short or low voltage, your breaker will stop the system for safety purposes.
Step 5: Connect your circuit breaker to your panel board.
You are now ready to use your solar-powered generator if there is a power outage. Before you connect your circuit breaker to the panel, make sure that the mainline is turned off. Then make a connection to the circuit in your panel board that you want to be powered by your generator.
Then, if you have solar panels and the power goes out, they will be able to provide energy.
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Solar energy is a trend that will become more popular in the years to come, especially now that people have become more aware of climate change. Not only is it eco-friendly, it can also be used to power your house when there is no electricity.
That is why we wanted to teach you how to use solar panels during a power outage, so if you are a newbie, you will know what to do.