A Ray Of Light Amidst Grid Outages: Standby Power For Homeowners

Michael Bates
Written by Michael Bates
on May 23, 2013 No Comments
Categories : E-Focus

Whether they've experienced a recent grid outage or not, many homeowners are searching for the security that a backup power source offers when the grid goes down, but battery-based systems can often be out of reach because of cost or maintenance requirements.

In the event of a power outage, basic habits such as charging a cell phone or powering a small fan or space heater become essential, yet also impossible. Most homeowners have no source of backup power when the grid goes down. What many new solar customers don't realize is that even homes with solar typically lose power due to utility regulations that require grid-tied inverters to disconnect from the grid in the event of an outage, leaving the solar homeowner without electricity.
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New technology developed for SMA's Sunny Boy 3000TL-US/4000TL-US/5000TL-US alleviates some of this concern. The inverter features a unique Secure Power Supply (SPS) feature that provides a switchable output that installers can connect to an external socket outlet and will provide up to 1,500 W of daytime power – when the sun is shining and the array is generating sufficient power – in the event of a grid outage. This gives customers confidence that they can get a small supply of electricity from their solar inverter even when the grid is out – when other solar PV systems are down.
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When the utility grid fails, the inverter automatically activates the secure power feature. In order to ensure compliance with UL 1741 rules, the inverter waits to see that the SPS switch is turned on. When no AC power is available due to a loss of power, a homeowner simply needs to flip the switch into the ‘on’ position. After approximately 30-45 seconds, the inverter will be ready and can begin sending power to the dedicated outlet.

This will power small, useful household loads such as cell phones, fans, lamps, rechargeable flashlights, laptops and other appliances that will help a homeowner during a grid outage.
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The power supply will continue until the SPS switch is turned to the ‘off’ position. As a safety feature, the inverter does not automatically return to regular operation once the grid is restored, so homeowners must be diligent in switching the SPS off. Once this occurs, the inverter will begin feeding power back to the utility grid.

In our increasingly electricity-dependent world, power outages are at best unpleasant for homeowners, and extended outages can often can bring serious consequences. They are left to wonder how long they'll be without power, how they can charge their phones to stay in touch with loved ones or how they can heat or cool their homes, depending on the weather conditions.

With the new Secure Power Supply, homeowners can rest assured they will have standby power in the event of an unexpected grid interruption.

Bates Marshall is vice president, medium power solutions sales, at SMA America. For more information, please contact sales@SMA-America.com.

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