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Friends not enemies: Why the grid is your solar panels’ best mate

Having a solar power system is great but only if you’re using it to its full potential. Being grid connected goes hand in hand if you want a reliable, uninterrupted supply of power.

Our friends at Energy Networks suggest that households are $8,700 better off a year staying connected with the grid, bringing network costs down by $10 a month. That’s pretty good if you ask us!

Our experienced technicians and engineers have worked hard to build network safeguards, that ensure solar energy renewables can work within the current system, and be part of the new energy mix.

If you need more convincing, here’s five reasons why staying grid connected helps you get the most out of your solar panels:

Never run short

Solar panels are an excellent source of energy during the day when the sun is shining. But what about in the evening when the sun goes down? When everyone comes home and starts turning on appliances, you want to have peace of mind you won’t be left in the dark, literally!

When you run out of sugar you can always ask your neighbour for a cup, but it’s not that easy when we’re talking electricity. The grid is like your safety net, which kicks in and gives you reliable power at night or when it’s cloudy – basically whenever you’re not able to harness energy from your solar system.

The essential kick starter

When an appliance starts, it needs an extra surge of instantaneous power to get it going. This extra ‘grunt’ of power is essential for things like washing machines, refrigerators, pool pumps, air conditioners, garage doors and electrical tools.

In fact, 99% of household solar systems don’t have these ‘jump start’ abilities, but with the grid you have that much needed boost.

Keeping you safe around the clock

When an appliance short circuits it draws a very large current known as a fault current. This current causes the circuit breaker / RCD to trip or a fuse to blow, cutting the power and leaving the appliance safe. Without a fault current, appliances could overheat, malfunction or remain energised to cause a potential electric shock hazard. Most solar systems aren’t designed to supply this fault current, but with the grid you have something to fall back on to keep you safe.

Maintaining the right frequency

Your electricity demand can vary throughout the day. The grid works at a stable frequency of 50 Hertz, which is perfect for appliances with a motor such as your fridge, air-con, pool or bore pump and garage door. They’re designed to operate at a very specific frequency and if they go outside that frequency, the appliances can be less efficient, malfunction, heat up or burn out.

The majority of solar systems installed in WA can’t maintain a stable frequency – especially when loads switch on and off, or when cloud cover impacts the amount of energy generated from rooftop panels. That’s where the grid comes in to save the day!

Keeping voltage levels stable

The beauty of the grid is it also has inbuilt mechanisms to ensure voltage stability. So what does this mean? If the voltage (electrical pressure) is not kept at a consistent level, it has the potential to damage your equipment. Too high – it could burn out appliances, too low – nothing may work. Unlike the majority of rooftop solar systems, the grid keeps everything ticking along, especially for larger loads.

If you already have solar panels on your property, we applaud you for taking advantage of WA’s sunny climate to generate power for your home. And with the grid looking out for you like good mates do, your energy needs are always going to be sorted.