Given that solar generation only occurs when the sun is shining, a solar system will not enable you to be independent of grid-supplied electricity. Without extensive investment in battery storage, plus a back-up generator, solar alone will not enable you to go “off grid”. Solar will, however, reduce the quantity of grid-supplied energy that you need to purchase.
Does having a solar system help during a power outage?
If you have a distributed generation system, you will have an inverter that is ‘tied’ to the electricity network. During a power cut, for safety reasons, your inverter will automatically shut down, as required by the Australian and New Zealand standard for solar inverters AS/NZS4777. This stops the flow of solar electricity to your home - which is worth knowing if protection from power cuts is a crucial reason to you when considering installing a solar energy system.
More sophisticated battery installations with battery management systems can maintain supply during an outage, provided there is sufficient charge in the battery. However, they usually have a limited rate of discharge, meaning that just the bare essentials can be supplied - for example, boiling the kettle has a higher power requirement than many residential battery set-ups can meet!