Since you bought your home, you’ve been at the mercy of the utility companies. They set your utility prices and promise unlimited service and support, but power outages in their grid system cause blackouts in your home and neighborhood, and rates keep going up. The solar power industry has been working hard to provide you with an alternative to grid-power. These days, the cost of installing solar installations is much cheaper than it was even five years ago. Improvements in the efficiency of solar cells and storage batteries give you options to eliminate the grid entirely from your monthly bills. You can even sell excess solar power to the utility company, instead of the other way around.
Grid-connected solar panel systems produce reliable electricity
A solar panel consists of a series of solar cells, which capture light, convert it to electricity, and move it into the power system. The more cells per panel, and the more panels per installation, the more energy is produced. Panels are attached to or near the home (or business) facing true south, to capture the most direct rays of the sun. Brackets can be used to orient the panels in the right direction if the home’s exteriors aren’t sited exactly right. Once the installation is complete, routine maintenance is the only activity needed to oversee the system.
As the term suggests, a grid-connected solar panel system supplies electricity from both solar power and the utility grid. On sunny days, the solar panels collect the light as direct current (DC) and move it into an inverter. The inverter converts the DC to alternating current (AC), making it compatible with today’s electrical appliances. The sun’s light is then the power source for the home. When the sun isn’t available (at night or on cloudy days), the system draws power from the grid. Between the solar inverter and the electrical outlets, there is a meter (or sometimes two) that captures and measures the amount of power drawn from both systems. Having access to both power options ensures a reliable source of electricity at all times.
Grid-connected solar panel systems reduce costs, earn money
Installing solar panels on your home will reduce your cost for electricity simply because, once the system is installed, the energy consumed comes free from the sun. Accessing grid-supplied electricity will create an expense that the utility company will bill for each month. Combining the two systems offers you a number of alternatives for reducing costs or even eliminating cost altogether, depending on the terms available from your local utility company.
Net meter systems
In a solar/grid electric system all energy use goes through a single meter, measuring the amount of both solar and grid-supplied electricity. Your home will be billed only for the power drawn from the grid. In the event the solar power exceeds the immediate needs of the home, the meter can run backward, feeding the excess power back into the grid. In this case, the utility company can credit your bill for the excess power. Depending on the utility, the excess power your panels generate is valued at the retail rate you pay, or a lower, wholesale rate. Some utilities require the use of two meters, one for solar use and the other for grid electricity.
Another way for you to leverage a solar power system with utility-supplied power is through a “time of use” rate system. This opportunity is based on the fact that utilities routinely experience “peak” power draws when power usage is higher than normal. The excessive use of air conditioning systems during heat waves is an example of abnormal power drains on the system. However, when those occur, there is frequently a surplus of solar energy produced as well. Some utilities will “trade” your excess solar power contributions to the grid in exchange for lower rates of grid power at other times of the year.
Avoid the grid and store excess solar energy for later use
Since 2010, the cost to produce a battery that stores solar energy has dropped by 50 percent, and it is expected to drop another 50 percent by the year 2020. At the same time, there is an ongoing boom in the production of batteries. Tesla’s Gigafactory is on track to produce 35 Gigawatts worth of batteries by 2020, making them more economical to buy and easier to find. That volume, by the way, exceeds the total global production of batteries in 2013.
Collecting solar energy in the day and using it at night is the ultimate goal for many solar power devotees, so innovations in battery technology are exciting. Installing a solar power system that includes batteries can generate and store all the power you need, so you will never face an energy bill or grid-failure-related power outage again.
The world continues to struggle with immense environmental issues: global warming, drought, pollution. Innovations in the solar power industry make it a truly viable option to you to address some of these critical situations. In doing so, you can also solve some smaller problems closer to home, like reducing the cost of your home or business electric bill.
To learn how a grid-connected solar energy system can work for your home, www.RGSEnergy.com for more information and a free quote.