Did you know that a grid-connected solar system is the most cost-effective type of solar system for homeowners?
In its Short-Term Energy Outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that, by 2020, renewable energy will become the fastest-growing source of electricity generation, with the utility-scale solar capacity expected to rise by 13.7 GW in 2020 and 11.8 GW in 2021.
It is expected that the global electrical energy consumption will display an annual growth rate of approximately 2.2% from 2010 to 2040.
There are three main types of solar power systems, namely grid-connected, off-grid, and hybrid systems. Of all these different types of solar systems installed across the globe, the grid-connected solar system is the most preferred one.
Grid-connected solar systems also referred to as grid-tied, grid inter tied, grid back feeding, utility-interactive, and on-grid solar systems, are increasingly attracting attention as a means of generating alternative energy by connecting the solar system to a utility power grid.
Here’s a quick preview of what you will learn from this article:
- What is a grid-connected solar system?
- Components of a grid-connected solar system
- How does a grid-connected solar system work?
- 7 Benefits of grid-connected solar systems for homeowners
- How to ensure supply reliability
- Grid-connected solar systems and net metering
So, what is this grid-connected solar system you keep hearing about?
What is a Grid-Connected Solar System?
A grid-connected solar system is also referred to as a grid-connected photovoltaic system or a grid-tied power system. This electricity-generating solar power system is connected to the utility grid.
It comprises solar panels, inverters, a power conditioning unit, and grid connection equipment.
Grid-connected solar power systems range from small residential rooftop systems to large, utility-scale solar power stations. They hardly use integrated battery solutions, unlike stand-alone power systems.
Are you thinking of a cheaper and easier solar system option for your home?
A grid-connected solar power system is an extremely cost-effective and easy way to equip your home with solar energy. Basically, this system uses solar panels and an inverter to produce electricity. The function of solar panels is to convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity, while the inverter turns the DC electricity into usable alternating current (AC) electricity.
A solar power system that is connected to the grid exports excess solar power from the panels to the grid during the day. Then at night, when the sun is down and the panels can no longer produce power, it uses the power from the grid.
Components of a Grid-Connected Solar System
Grid-connected or grid-tied solar systems produce solar energy during the day and, because you are connected to the grid, draw electricity from the power company when needed at night or in bad weather.
What are the key components required by a working grid-connected solar system?
The main function of the PV modules is to instantly convert sunlight into DC electrical power.
The inverter converts DC power into the standard AC power for home use. Each time the grid distributes electricity, the inverter synchronizes with the utility power automatically.
Interferences cause energy losses when inverters are used. This is the same for all the components of the power system. Typically, the efficiency of an inverter, that is well matched to the solar array, is about 90%.
Inverters produce an AC current in different outputs – square wave, modified square wave, and pure sine wave outputs. The square wave is the least expensive but is also the least efficient. The modified sine is quite efficient and has a moderate cost The pure sine is expensive but is the most efficient.
AC breaker panel with fuses
The breaker panel or fuse box looks like a normal fuse box. It consists of a domestic supply and installation of electricity without the need for additional breakers for either the inverter or the filter connections.
The purpose of the charge controller is to prevent the battery from overcharging, thereby prolonging the lifespan of your PV system.
The PV generator requires two electric meters to function well. These meters are placed between the grid and the inverter.
One of the meters is inserted into the grid so that it can help in billing and quantifying the energy that is generated. The other electric meter is used to quantify the PV inverter’s small consumption where there is no solar radiation.
Safety switches and cabling
The PV array always produces voltage output in solar radiation so that it can be disconnected from the inverter for testing or maintenance. Isolator switches and inverter safety switches should be provided separately and must be easy to disconnect from the system.
Ensure that you use electrical cables that are correctly rated and sized to connect the various components. The electrical company may also demand earthing and fuses.
Grid-connected solar systems cannot exist without a utility grid. The solar system is connected to this grid to store electricity for later use.
How Does a Grid Connected Solar System Work?
Grid-connected solar systems provide homeowners with the power they need during the day, and because it is connected to the local electrical grid, it also provides power at night.
Curious to find out how a grid-connected solar system works?
Here are some very straightforward steps:
Sunlight hits the solar PV panels to produce electricity or solar energy.
The electricity then runs from the solar panels to the inverter, which converts the power from a direct current (DC) to an alternating current (AC). The subsequent solar electricity can be used to power your electronic appliances.
The solar power produced during the day runs through the switchboard to power the appliances you have in operation.
Light bulbs, air conditioners, dishwashers, television, sound systems, and other AC-powered electronic devices can make use of solar-powered electricity.
If the solar panels produce excess solar power or you have switched off your electrical appliances, the power will be transferred to the grid where it is measured by the meter box. Electricity retailers pay credits in exchange for the energy they return to the grid. At night, when your systems do not produce any energy, you can draw power from the grid and pay with the credits earned.
7 Benefits of Grid-Connected Solar Systems for Homeowners
A grid-tied solar system, as the name implies, means that the solar system is connected to an electrical grid.
Does this system offer homeowners any long-term benefits?
Here are 7 of the major benefits homeowners can enjoy from grid-connected solar systems:
1. Very affordable
The grid-connect solar system, unlike the other solar systems, is not very expensive. The cost-efficiency of this option can be attributed to the fact that there is no need to buy batteries and some other equipment. You will not have to bother with the reform costs that accompany batteries.
Also, the system helps to reduce bill expenses. The less you consume, the more energy you save to the utility grid, and the more money you gain from your state government.
In comparison, the grid-tied system costs less than other systems since installing one off-grid system costs up to 3 times the price of a grid-connected system.
2. Increases the value of your home
Installing solar panels in your home does not only help you to save thousands of dollars yearly.
Do you plan to sell your house someday?
Every homeowner wants to make improvements and repairs that will increase the value of their home when they are ready to sell.
The PV cell components of your solar system, in addition to generating energy, also raises the selling point of your home by adding a more technologically related and modern look that will attract more buyers.
By investing in grid-connected solar panels, you will be making a major improvement that will boost the value of your home. You should prioritize this enhancement because buyers prefer a house that has a working solar system.
3. No need to buy expensive battery storage
Grid-connected photovoltaic systems are very affordable and easy to build and maintain. Since there is no need to buy a battery, which is the most expensive component, you do not have to worry about damaging the battery by under or over-charging.
4. Very reliable
What would you do when faced with a power shutdown?
If you install a grid-tied solar system, it would have collected and saved solar radiation in the utility grid. Therefore, when there is a power shutdown, it can provide you with power for your electrical appliances.
Also, it will continue to produce power whenever you use it. If you only consume a small amount of energy, the rest will be converted into money for you by your state government.
5. You get to use 100% renewable energy
Using some energy sources can cause considerable contamination. Thankfully, grid-connected solar systems use clean, renewable power to generate energy that will positively impact human beings and the environment.
Grid-connected solar systems do not require batteries, helping to reduce the environmental contamination caused by batteries, allowing you to breathe fresher air.
Most people prefer this type of solar system because it can be used for a very long time without experiencing any side effects or damage. It is safe to say that it has the longest lifespan compared to other solar systems.
6. Easy installation
You do not need that much help in connecting your solar system to the grid. It involves a simple process that you can easily complete with the help of a friend over a weekend.
All you need to do is take note of the minimum requirements of 100 square feet for every kilowatt when installing the panels on your rooftop.
Here are the necessary steps you need to follow to install a grid-connected solar system:
- Enlist the services of the best solar installation company. For best quality, best prices, and best quotes, contact Enlightened Solar. Request an on-grid solar system.
- If you would rather install the system yourself, an expert from the company will visit your home to check your area for capacity and strength before installation.
- The expert will check all your home electrical connections and loads.
- They will recommend the best on-grid system for your home.
- The engineer will help to install your preferred solar system.
7. Very resourceful and effective
The grid-connected solar system uses a very simple working process to produce energy.
The sun shines on the panels, producing a direct current, which is converted to AC for use in your home. Any excess energy is transferred to the utility. The grid stores energy to be used when the sun is down, instead of requiring batteries or a myriad of other costly equipment.
How to Ensure Supply Reliability
Whenever there is a power failure, you have to disconnect your grid-connected solar system from the utility grid for safety reasons. This will prevent uncontrolled stand-alone operations. Hence, the grid-connected solar system will go offline when there is a power failure.
This safety precaution helps to prevent the electrocution of utility personnel who may be working on the grid when there is a power failure. You can also configure your grid-connected system to work with a UPS or diesel generator without compromising the utility grid’s safety requirements.
When this is done, the solar power system will continue to operate and supply power to the load. If the solar panels are responsible for generating the power, the grid-tied inverter will automatically prioritize how this energy is used. Then, the UPS or generator will supply only a minimal load, making it more efficient.
Hence, grid-connected solar systems ensure that your home is provided with supply continuity whenever there is a power failure.
Grid-Connected Solar Systems and Net Metering
Connecting your solar array or solar panels to the local power grid will allow you to enjoy one of the major benefits of generating your own electricity – net metering or net billing.
What is net metering and how does it work?
If on a sunny day, your solar PV system produces more electricity than you can consume, the excess solar power is sent back to the utility grid. When this happens, your electrical meter will be rotated backward and your local power company will give you credits for the amount of electricity your grid-connected solar system has produced.
If you use more electrical energy than your solar system generates during the billing period, you will be billed the normal net amount of the electricity you consumed.
However, if the solar energy you generate is more than you consume, you will be credited for the net amount of the electricity generated. This could either be a reduction in your electricity bill or a direct refund to you.
If your local electricity company has net metering available, you may be asked to install a second electrical meter instead of using a single one that spins in both directions while you are installing your solar system.
With this new meter, you will be able to measure the net energy consumption entering and leaving your system. This will be used to reduce the amount you pay for your electricity bill. Be sure to find out what the policy of your electrical utility company is regarding buying back the energy your small solar power station generates.
Although net metering is the best way to resell the excess power your solar system generates, some utility companies have a lower wholesale rate for buying back energy than the electricity you use from the same utility company. Hence, to break even, you may have to generate more solar energy than you usually consume.
It is, therefore, important to pay close attention to the components of the solar services agreement of the utility company in your city.
Does this spark your interest in having your own solar power system?
There are lots of other indirect benefits you can enjoy from obtaining your own solar power system. The expertise, longevity, high quality, lower losses from transmission and distribution, long-term energy, minimal technical losses, and low gestation period are some of them.
To enjoy these benefits and many more, contact Enlightened Solar. We can help you to find the best solar system for you.