A grid-tied solar electric system is the most popular method ofrunning a home on solar power, and it’s also the easiest. As the nameindicates, this kind of system ties into both your home’s existing power system as well as the utility grid. If your system generates more power than you use, then that excess energy is sold back to the power gridand you get a credit from your utility. These kinds of systems are veryadvantageous because they are not only relatively simple to install,they also have a lower initial cost than other kinds of solar electricsystems. A grid-tied system requires basically a few solar panels, somewiring boxes and disconnects, and an inverter that converts theelectricity generated by the panels into power that can be used by bothyour home and the grid.
If you are having a grid-tied system installed, that will likelyrequire an interconnection agreement between you and your local utilitythat outlines how the connection to the grid will be made, and what theinspection schedule will be. And there are often rebates and incentivesoffered by both the utility and governmental entities as well, so it isdefinitely worth considering.
Advantages of a grid-tied system
There are numerous benefits to installing a grid-tied system, which are detailed below:
- Initial cost – Grid-tied systems are much lessexpensive than off-grid systems. Because weather can be so variable inmost areas, off-grid solar electric systems require the use of expensive batteries. They also necessitate a secondary source of power such as agas generator in order to provide backup power, and that also adds tothe cost.
- Operating costs – Grid-tied systems have very lowmaintenance costs. Solar panels normally have 20-year warranties and are extremely durable. In fact, NASA installed solar panels in the 1950s as part of its space program, and some of them are still in use more than50 years later. Off-grid systems, as stated previously, need expensivebatteries that have a much shorter life span than grid-tied panels. They also require backup generators that need significant and costlymaintenance.
- Reliability – A grid-tied system has virtually nodowntime where a customer has to go without electricity. By contrast,the batteries and backup generators associated with off-grid systemsboth need regular maintenance that can lead to a lot of frustratingdowntime.