Operating Solar Off the Grid: A Panel Discussion Feb. 25

Solar Roof Panels

By Johanna Schweiss, Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator,
USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter

2013 was a big year for the photovoltaic (solar) industry. The last Solar Energy Industries Association’s Solar Market Insight Report predicted that 2013 would be the first year in more than a decade that the US installs more solar capacity than Germany! And the residential market continues to see the most rapid growth of any segment of the U.S. market.

The benefits of installing a PV system in your home include saving money, increasing property values, and preserving natural resources. In addition, many homeowners install solar in a desire for energy independent and security. Extended power outages can be more than just inconvenient when families must relocate, due to the inability to use home medical devices and charge cell phones. This further makes the case for installing residential solar panels until homeowners realize they can’t use their photovoltaic system during a power outage.

The vast majority of PV systems connect to the electrical grid allowing homeowners to sell excess energy back to their utility. When the grid goes down in a power outage, these grid-tied solar systems shut down as well. If they were to continue to feed electricity into the grid, it could injure utility workers repairing lines and equipment.

So what’s a homeowner with a PV to do? How can a system be designed that could be usable when not connected to the grid? Get some answers to these questions on Tuesday, February 25! Panelists will discuss clear criteria and obstacles to operating PV off the grid, such as limitations of control interfaces, as well as the increase in costs of systems. Also to be discussed is how difficult and costly it is to have an existing PV system retrofitted.

Please join us from 3:00 to 5:00 pm on Tuesday, February 25th. To learn more and RSVP, visit www.usgbc-mogateway.org.