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How Home Solar Ties to The Grid

Jessica PirroDecember 19, 20194760

How Does Home Solar Tie to The Grid?

When buying a solar-powered system you are going to have a few different options to choose from. One of the more popular solar-powered systems is going to be a grid-tied solar-powered system.

What is a Grid-Tied Solar-Powered System?

A grid-tied solar-powered system, also called a utility inter-tie photovoltaics, uses solar panels, a solar power inverter, and other components to turn the sun’s solar energy into solar electricity for your homes use, while your home remains hooked up to the local utility. This is going to be different from an off-grid solar-powered system or a stand-alone solar panel installation, where your structure isn’t hooked up to utility power.

Why Get a Grid-Tied Solar Panel Installation?

The most common reason people choose to install a grid-tied solar-powered system is to reduce their utility bills. Once your solar-powered system is operating, the power that is provided is free and there is little to no maintenance that is required. While it runs, your solar-powered system reduces your electricity bills, not only because it decreases the amount of power you are going to pull from the utility, but also because any of the excess solar power that your solar panels produce is pushed back into the grid (it is called net metering), effectively turning your meter backward. Eventually, your solar-powered system is going to pay for itself, but your energy savings is going to continue long after.

In addition to what you will be saving on your electric bill when you have a grid-tied solar-powered system raises the value of your property. Solar panel installations also make a home more attractive to prospective buyers, particularly when compared to an otherwise identical home. This can make a huge difference if you decide to sell your homes in a tight real estate market.

Another great solar incentive is going to be that the Federal government, and many states and local utilities, offer rebates, tax credits, low-interest loans and other solar incentives for adding solar power.

Of course, solar energy is a clean source of power. It reduces dependence on fossil fuels practically and effectively and helps protect our environment.

Grid-Tied Solar-Powered Systems Vs. Off-Grid Solar-Powered System 

Fire Mountain Solar never recommends that a customer who is already hooked up to utility power disconnect and go off-grid. There are a few reasons, but some key ones are:

- Grid-tied solar-powered systems are going to be less expensive than off-grid solar-powered systems because they require no storage batteries.

- Off-grid solar-powered systems have some unique design limitations, which means most people will need to adjust their power use habits and may need to replace some appliances.

- Batteries are necessary in off-grid solar-powered systems to provide power at night or at other times when power isn’t being produced. They can be expensive and do not require regular maintenance. They also are going to have a shorter life expectancy than most other solar-powered system components, which means that they are not only going to add the upfront cost of the solar-powered system, but they also add to the costs of solar over time because the batteries are going to need to be replaced regularly.

- Grid-tied solar-powered systems offer you the best of both worlds. You can have your solar-powered system sized so that your 12-month average electrical bill is next to nothing, but still have the flexibility to at any time draw more than your solar panel installation is producing without having to do anything.

- Adding solar power batteries to a grid-tied solar-powered system will give you the best of all worlds as far as solar-powered systems go. You are going to have the convenience of utility power plus you solar-powered is going to automatically switch to the stored battery power if the grid goes down, providing convenient, quiet power to keep your essential household or business loads operating.

How Does a Grid-Tied Solar-Powered System Work?

When the sun shines on the solar panels they are going to produce Direct Current (DC). The DC solar electricity is going to be converted into AC solar electricity by your solar power inverter, making it available for household use. This process is going to happen silently and automatically daily.

When a grid-tied solar-powered system generates excess solar power, the excess solar electricity will then be sent back to the utility grid. The excess solar power going into the grid spins your meter is backward, allowing your neighbors to use clean, quiet solar power. If you used more solar power than your solar-powered system is producing, your solar power inverter will automatically pull the needed power from the grid.

This back and forth process is called “net metering”, meaning that you are only billed for the “net” electricity that is purchased over the entire billing period. At the end of each billing cycle, your meter will not have spun as fat forward when compared to not having solar electricity, saving you money. If you produce more than you use during a billing period, your utility company is going to retain it as a credit, which is going to be applied to future electric bills.

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