Solar panels in combination with net metering programs, offer homeowners a variety of benefits, including a degree of energy independence from their municipality’s primary electrical grid.
However, many homeowners have a common misconception that “energy independence” means that they will have power in the case of a blackout. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. If a primary electrical grid experiences a failure, all net-metered systems, which are connected to the grid, will be automatically shut off.
This is because net metering enables the backward flow of electricity, which can be dangerous if power lines are down or mass repairs are being made. If homeowners want electricity during a grid outage, their options are either to purchase batteries for their solar installation (which remain prohibitively expensive for most) or pickup a secure power supply inverter, which we’ll discuss more below.
The SMA Sunny Boy is a great example of a secure power supply inverter that attaches directly to net-metered systems, and while small, it offers homeowners an impressive level of utility. Up to 2000 watts (1500 of which can be continuous) are provided to an outlet of the homeowner’s choice as long as the sun is shining.
Admittedly, this may not sound like much, but 2000 watts goes a long way in a power outage.
To put this in perspective, a family of four would each be able to charge their phones, maintain an internet connection, watch tv, print something off the computer, operate a fridge (for a short duration), and run a furnace fan, and they would still have 250 plus watts available for future use. Keep in mind, not all of these activities could be accomplished simultaneously, as this device only provides one outlet with power.
It’s also advised that homeowners space out their consumption to prevent reaching their maximum limit unexpectedly. You may not have electricity at night when the sun isn’t shining, but at least the beer will stay cold throughout the day — something that’s sure to make your neighbours jealous.
Whenever the total 2000 watts (or 20 amps at once) have been consumed, the device automatically powers down. There are no overdraft fees or other penalties, making the device hassle-free for any homeowner with a solar installation.
If the device detects energy usage rising above 20 amps, it will temporarily disconnect, waiting 20 seconds before reconnecting to give homeowners time to unplug a device.
Pricing for power supply inverters differs depending on the source; however, homeowners should expect to pay between $3000-$3,500 for an SMA Sunny Boy installation (depending on size and model purchased).
Deciding whether or not a secure power supply inverter is suitable for your solar installation requires a few factors to be considered, such as sun exposure and roof orientation. These devices require high amounts of solar irradiation — any shading on the solar panels will drastically reduce their effectiveness.
Remember, they only provide power to your home when the sun is shining. Irregular roofing patterns that require a solar installation to be broken up don’t tend to work well with power supply inverters either. But if you live in an area that is particularly prone to blackouts or disruptive storms, this may be a worthwhile investment anyway.
The SMA Sunny Boy’s warranty is ten years, slightly shorter than most competing inverters on the market. Expect to replace your inverter a couple of times throughout your solar installation’s lifetime.
Homeowners who want advanced optimization for individual panels, in particular, should skip this blackout backup device, as other inverters offer much broader customization.
So, who exactly is this inverter for?
People who are apprehensive about spending a lot more money on their solar panels (understandable) but feel as though added energy security in an age of degrading infrastructure is worth a small price. There are more complicated inverters on the market that offer additional features — but these will cost you.
On the other hand, the SMA Sunny Boy accomplishes its goal of providing consumer utility in case of an outage, without any flash or flare. Most homeowners interested in purchasing a power supply inverter would be well served by this blackout backup device.
Let us know if you are interested in this solutions. We have a no-obligation assessment process that provides you with all the information you need to make an educated decision.