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What is solar islanding and anti-islanding?

Having a solar energy system is a great start to gaining energy independence. While most solar energy systems are interconnected with the grid, they would need batteries to store the energy they generate. The rising popularity of batteries for solar energy systems is important when considering the possibility of blackouts from outages, natural disasters, etc. This is generally referred to as solar islanding. Although you may also hear about anti-islanding and wonder what this all means. We will explain everything you need to know in this article.

Why is the term islanding used?

The ability of a solar energy system to be self-sufficient refers to its “islanding” capabilities. This is generally because islands around the world are somewhat self-sufficient. While they can produce resources, they still rely on imports and the like to make up for what they can’t produce. The concept applies to grid-tied solar energy systems. The idea is that your solar energy system produces power for your home, with the excess fed into the grid. If your solar energy system isn’t producing enough power, it will draw what your home needs from the grid. This is the basis for net metering policies that you will benefit from with your solar energy system. Although just having solar panels doesn’t mean that your home is capable of islanding.

What do I need for solar islanding?

To have a solar energy system capable of islanding you will need to have the following:

  • A backup solar battery storage system. This will store the energy that your system will use when islanding.
  • A specialized inverter that is capable of fully removing your home from the grid.

Both components will work in tandem to give your house the capability to stay powered even during an outage. As the specialized inverter will detect that the grid is down and switch over to draw power from your battery storage. Although it’s important to note that the battery storage will be able to handle the load of your home’s power consumption. The specialized inverter is also important due to a specific feature, anti-islanding.

Solar Generation

What is solar anti-islanding?

Solar anti-islanding is a safety measure that stops electricity from flowing out of your solar energy system into the grid. This may sound confusing at first, considering a solar energy system can be capable of islanding and anti-islanding. The reality is that anti-islanding is required for a solar island. Grid-tied solar energy systems feed their excess power to the grid for net metering. While this sounds fine, it can become an issue when the power is out. If your islanding capable solar energy system is still producing electricity during an outage, it’s feeding energy into the grid. There are several reasons why solar anti-islanding is important:

  1. The safety of electrical grid workers during an outage. As grid workers will assume that there is no power flowing through the grid whilst conducting repairs. If any electricity is flowing from your system into the grid it can injure, maim or even kill.
  2. The safety of grid equipment. The power a solar energy system sends into the grid can also affect the grid equipment down the line and damage it.
  3. Preventing damage to your inverter. Solar islanding can damage inverters if they are not meant for islanding. Anti-islanding protects your inverters from overloading. Which can prevent any serious damage and costly repairs or replacements. Modern inverters are required to have anti-islanding protection if they are grid-tied. So this issue is not as relevant for most solar energy systems.

Why should I consider solar islanding?

There are multiple reasons to consider going for a solar plus storage system with islanding capability. If your area suffers from frequent electrical blackouts caused by extreme weather, islanding will keep your home powered throughout the outages. Another reason to consider solar islanding is if you have medical devices and medication. Keeping these devices running and medicines refrigerated can be especially important. If you work from home and are dependent on electricity, having backup power can keep you from falling behind on work. Generally having lights and thermostat running will be much more comfortable than being without power.

Get started with solar energy today

If you are looking to start your transition to solar energy, we are here to help. Our website also has a free online estimate tool that generates a personalized report for you from a simplified questionnaire. That report will contain the potential savings you can net, and the cost of a solar energy system installed on your property. You can also contact us directly via phone at +1 (602) 363-8919 or via email at Scott@elitesolarenergy.org for more information regarding solar energy for your property.