Experts have told Express.co.uk, that solar panels can help power a home during a blackout, as the National Grid has revealed its plans to ration energy if it fails to ensure adequate gas and electricity supplies this winter. While the UK does not import much Russian gas, Vladimir Putin’s gradual tightening of flows has left Europe scrambling to stave off a cold winter, making it difficult for the UK to rely on the continent for on extra power supplies like most winters. Under the National Grid’s new plans, households in different parts of the country will be notified a day in advance of three-hour blocks of time in which their power will be cut, in an effort to lower the total -the UK’s energy consumption by 5 percent.

While most solar panels can’t immediately power homes during a blackout, experts note that with a little research, this green home upgrade can help homes avoid any planned power cuts that may occur.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Martin Desmond of Wizer Energy said: “The risk of blackouts is very real so try and be a bit prepared this winter. Yes solar panels can help in these situations but you need a properly setup battery system so you can operate off the grid.”

Solar panels help households reduce bills by generating their own electricity, thus reducing their reliance on the grid. When the panels are combined with a storage battery, the excess electricity generated by the panels is stored instead of being wasted.

Mr Desmond said: “Regulations require something called a “Shunt” or “Fireman switch” to be fitted to the power cabling running to your solar panels. This is effectively an on/off switch.

“So, when the battery voltage in your house is low and needs a charge, the switch turns on and the energy flows from the panels to the battery – Conversely, when the battery voltage is high (i.e. full) the switch turn off and the charging process stops.

“In the case of a blackout, the shunt will disconnect the DC feed because no energy from the grid will be available to your inverter, which in turn will stop any generation from occurring.”

Mr Desmond added that panel owners can solve this issue by safely bypassing this switch with the help of a qualified electrician, this can only be done when using a hybrid solar inverter (solar & battery) and not a solar inverter.

However, he continued: “There are different modes or levels of operating off-grid, depending on the make and model of the inverter as they offer different solutions.”

READ MORE: National Grid unveils plan for three-hour blackouts this winter

“First, for all off-grid operations, there is a legal obligation to install a ‘changeover’ switch in place to ensure that everyone complies with electrical contracting and wiring regulations. separate the house to make it its own microgrid.”

In their report, National Grid also warned that in the “unlikely event” that the company fails to secure gas supplies, consumers may face a situation where they are left without electricity for “pre-defined times” of the day, in an effort to “ensure the overall security and integrity of the electricity system across Great Britain”.

However, they assured that the planned power cut will only happen if the import of electricity from Europe is reduced and the supply of gas for the power stations is also insufficient.

Experts warn that even if households protect themselves from blackouts with batteries and solar panels, they will still need to make significant cuts to prevent the batteries from being completely depleted.

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Desmond continued: “It is important to point out that operating off-grid is a very different situation from a normal on-grid situation. .

“Other, more non-essential/high power appliances such as water heaters/hairdryers should be avoided as they further increase the risk of draining your available battery storage, in the case of a blackout you want to give up using these things.”

As part of its emergency plans, National Grid will also launch a “demand flexibility service” in November, which will incentivize households and businesses to use electricity outside of peak demand periods such as early evenings. on weekdays, to reduce grid fatigue.

The initiative, first tested by Octopus Energy last year, pays consumers on smart meters for electricity use during off-peak periods.

The National Grid estimates that with sufficient participation, this scheme could free up an additional 2 GW of electricity, enough to power around 600,000 UK homes.

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