Many people think of getting solar panels as a complete switch to solar energy that will leave you hanging at night and on cloudy days, but that’s not how it works in most cases. The vast majority of home solar panel systems are still connected to the power grid, which supplements their electricity consumption when needed. If you’re considering solar panel installation but aren’t sure about how being connected to the grid will work, this blog is for you.
Solar Energy and Grid Interconnection
Most homeowners choose a grid-connected solar system, which means that they can pull electricity from either the solar panels or the electric grid. This is important because solar power is intermittent — it stops working when the sun goes down. Because our energy consumption decreases but doesn’t stop at night, being able to pull from the grid to supplement your energy use is the only thing standing between you and nightly blackouts (unless you install solar batteries).
While solar panels don’t work at night, it’s common for them to generate excess electricity on sunny days. Grid interconnection, or the process that allows your solar system to have a two-way connection with the power grid, presents the perfect solution. Rather than waste the energy you aren’t using, grid interconnection sends the excess into the power grid to be used by those around you. But don’t worry — you’ll be paid for your contribution.
What is Net Metering?
When you install a grid-connected solar panel system, you’ll also install a new electric meter from your utility company that tracks both the electricity you use and the electricity you supply back to the grid, called a bidirectional meter. When your solar panels send excess energy into the grid, the meter keeps track of the amount so that you can be paid full credit for supplying electricity to the grid. This is net metering.
There are a couple of ways you may be paid for your power contribution:
- Net Billing: This is when your utility company subtracts that value of the electricity you supplied to the grid from your energy bill.
- Credit: You can also receive a credit for the energy you put into the grid, meaning you’ll only be charged for your net energy use (energy used – energy supplied = net energy).
Both of these methods have the same result, and you’ll pay less for electricity when your solar panels send their excess energy to the grid either way.
Benefits of Staying on the Grid
Paying less for electricity is already a major advantage of having solar panels. But grid interconnection allows you to do this without sacrificing the ability to use power at any time. When your solar system is grid-connected, none of the energy they produce will ever be wasted. You can even be paid by the utility company to have solar panels!
If you don’t use as much electricity as your solar system is producing, whether you’re on vacation or just not around the house during the day, you may be supplying the grid with more energy than you’re using. This means you’ll receive payment from the utility company rather than paying a bill.
For more information about net metering and connecting your collar system to the grid, contact the Solar Fix pros today.