In order to understand what a grid-tied solar system is, you need a basic understanding of what an electrical grid is. In simple terms, an electrical grid is a network of power lines that connect the people who use electrical energy and those who produce electrical energy for them.
Having a grid-tied solar power system means your home’s solar panel system is linked to your local power utility company’s electrical grid. This is the most common type of solar energy system in the United States since the setup does not require batteries. Other names for this type of solar power system are grid-direct, grid-intertied, on-grid and utility-interactive.
Why is a grid-tied solar power system attractive for most people?
There are three main factors that make this solar energy system attractive for your residential or business power needs.
Excess power generated by your solar panels can be sold to the utility company that owns the electrical grid in your locale. Whatever amount credited to you can go toward reducing your power bill or even earning you income. You need to sign a net metering agreement with the utility company. This agreement varies from state to state and from utility to utility.
On cloudy days when your solar panel is not up to supplying all your power needs, you can rely on your electrical grid to supply what you need. This is what really sets it apart from systems not linked to the electrical grid.
Batteries are generally not part of this type of solar system setup. This eliminates battery maintenance costs and the need to buy new batteries every five to ten years, depending on how good the batteries are. These costs can increase your power expenses by a considerable margin.
Getting around the grid-tied system’s main weakness
Like any other type of power generation system, grid-tied solar power systems also have weaknesses. When there is a power outage, such as when the utility company has to do repairs on certain power lines, you cannot receive electricity from either the grid or your solar panel system.
This is not because you absolutely cannot do so but because of state laws that prohibit it. It is mainly for the safety of the people who are working on the power lines when the electrical grid is shut down. If your grid-tied solar system is allowed to run, the excess will go into the grid and endanger the lives of the people working on the power lines.
Back in 2012, there was no remedy for this. So people who lived in places where power outages were expected on a regular basis chose not to opt for grid-tied solar systems. You either relied on their local utility company or chose off-grid solar system (systems that use batteries to store excess energy for later use).
Fortunately, advances were made in solar panel technology the following year, 2013, that addressed this problem. Certain systems were developed that were capable of isolating themselves from the grid in the event of a power outage. This ensured that you could still take advantage of your solar system and not worry about endangering someone working on the grid.
One such system is a battery-less system that works as a daytime emergency power supply. As such, it can function only when the sun is shining. The power it can supply is also limited but it does have the ability to isolate itself from the grid. If most of your power needs occur during the daytime and your area has power outages from time to time, this is probably the system for you.
Going solar and choosing a grid-tied system is a serious decision
Lowering your power bill — even eliminating it and earning money in the bargain — by getting a grid-tied solar power system is very appealing. Many questions have to be considered carefully, however, before making such an important investment.
What are the terms of your local power utility company’s net metering agreement?
How often are there power outages in your locale?
At what times of the day is having electricity critical?
Based on these and what you are prepared to invest, what type of solar panel system would be best?
A reliable solar system provider with decades of experience and a proven track record, such as RGS Energy, can help you work through these questions. This will help you make the decisions that suits your needs best.
To learn how solar energy can work for your home, visit www.RGSEnergy.com for information and a free quote.