Grid-tied, on-grid, utility-interactive and grid backfeeding are all terms used to describe the same concept – a solar system that is connected to the utility power grid.
Advantages of Grid-Tied Solar Systems
1. Save more money with net metering
A grid-connection will allow you to save more money with solar panels through better efficiency rates, net settlement of energy; in addition, lower equipment and installation costs:
Batteries, and other stand-alone equipment, are required for a fully functional off-grid solar system and add to costs as well as maintenance. Grid-tied solar systems are therefore generally cheaper and simpler to install.
Your solar panels will often generate more electricity than what you are capable of consuming. With net settlement of energy, homeowners can put this excess electricity onto the utility grid instead of storing it themselves with batteries.
Net settlement of energy (or feed-in tariff schemes in some countries) play an important role in how solar power is incentivized. Without it, residential solar systems would be much less feasible from a financial point of view.
Many utility companies are committed to buy electricity from homeowners at the same rate as they sell it themselves.
2. The utility grid is a virtual battery
Electricity has to be spent in real time. However, it can be temporarily stored as other forms of energy (e.g. chemical energy in batteries). Energy storage typically comes with significant losses.
The electric power grid is in many ways also a battery, without the need for maintenance or replacements, and with much better efficiency rates. In other words, more electricity (and more money) goes to waste with conventional battery systems.
Equipment for Grid-Tied Solar Systems
There are a few key differences between the equipment needed for grid-tied, off-grid and hybrid solar systems. Standard grid-tied solar systems rely on the following components:
1. String Inverter
What is the job of a solar inverter? They regulate the voltage and current received from your solar panels. Direct current (DC) from your solar panels is converted into alternating current (AC), which is the type of current that is utilized by the majority of electrical appliances.
In addition to this, string inverters, also known as grid-interactive or synchronous inverters, synchronize the phase and frequency of the current to fit the utility grid (nominally 50Hz). The output voltage is also adjusted slightly higher than the grid voltage in order for excess electricity to flow outwards to the grid.
2. Bi-directional Meter
Most homeowners will need to replace their current power meter with one that is compatible with net settlement of energy. This device, often called a bi-directional meter, is capable of measuring power going in both directions, from the grid to your house and vice versa.
To meet with our team and learn what you need to know to decide if grid-tied solar panel system is right for you, contact us today.