New gizmo lets grid-connected renewables keep working during outages

Imagine you are completely self-sufficient for energy yet still connected to the grid. Here at we call that state being “off-grid ready” because you could go completely off the grid if you wanted, but you prefer to sell your surplus back to the grid. So you stay connected.

Now suppose there is a blackout or a brownout. Guess what? Your power goes down too. Turns out you are not off-grid ready – due to an arcane set of rules brought in to protect the interests of the power companies, the moment there is a power outage in the system, all home power generators are turned off as well. The power may be sitting there in the batteries but it cannot be used.

Until now.

OutBack Power Technologies, Inc. has announced the availability of its FLEXcoupled system which allows installers to easily retrofit grid-tied solar power systems with grid-hybrid capability, enabling owners to store energy from their PV systems while tied to the grid and use it during utility outages and emergencies.

Harvey Wilkinson, general manager of OutBack Power, , a designer and manufacturer of power electronics for renewable energy, backup power and mobile applications, said, “The owners of grid-tied solar power systems know how frustrating it is when the traditional utility goes down; they generate enough renewable energy to power their critical needs, but without the right bi-directional inverter and storage solution, their properties go dark when the grid fails. AC coupling from OutBack Power gives homeowners and businesses who’ve invested in solar energy the option to better manage their electricity and gain off-grid independence during outages, thus contributing to greater grid utilization and stability.”
Energy-storage-based systems represent the largest growth area in solar installations, but for the many owners of grid-tied, grid-dependent systems that don’t deliver electricity when the utility goes down, AC coupling is option to maximize existing PV system investments by adding backup power functionality. With grid failure and instability on the rise and so-called 100-year storms now annual events, energy storage is essential to provide true power reliability and independence.
OutBack Power’s AC coupling system is unique in that it incorporates desirable AC coupling features including split-phase capability, dual AC inputs, transfer switching, power management flexibility, multiple operational modes for a range of energy scenarios, and greater dynamic stability. This enables a more elegant electro-mechanical coupling center (the GSLC 175-AC-120/240) to achieve AC coupling instead of relying on costly, complex frequency circuitry, transformers and diversion loads used in some conventional systems.

The OutBack approach enables users to allocate budget for professional-grade energy storage with Energy Cell GH batteries instead of the minimalistic batteries and boxes that are bundled into multi-brand systems. AC coupling from OutBack Power is UL1741-compliant, and it creates generator-friendly battery backup power for existing grid-tied inverter systems.

2 Responses

  1. Outback’s GTFX inverters have had this ability ( grid tie/off-grid if grid is down ) for a long time.

    This new deal is an attempt to make grid tie only have “some” off-grid ability…..though quite limited from what I see, and rather expensive as well. I found a website selling this set up, it has a 4,000w inverter and a 305amp/hr battery bank in a cabinet as a package. They want $4900 for the setup, plus another $2500 for batteries.

    Problem is, neither of those is very much power…..few hours of off-grid ability if you’re running any refrigeration, a well and a few lights. Forget a water heater, stove or most anything with heating elements.

    AND you have to match your input to the inverter capacity. IF you have a grid tied system larger than 4,000w, you’ll have to configure some kind of switching to shut off anything in excess of 4kw so you don’t over load the inverter.

    I love Outback’s stuff… system is Outback based, but honestly, I don’t see this being a big seller for them.

    IF you want true, seamless grid tie with the ability to use ALL your panels off-grid, go with a GTFX system (you can go 4 inverters, up to 14,000w)….or their new Radian. (8,000w per inverter) and a decent battery bank instead of trying to adapt a grid tie only system.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join the global off-grid community

Register for a better experiencE on this site!