A Simple Guide to GRID-TIED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS
The world is techno-driven, we cannot even imagine a few hours without electricity, but this grid dependency is just raising our electricity bills, especially in summers.
The rising electricity bill is the most common concern of home and business owners. But do you know, you can reduce your electricity bill by more than 50%?
Yes! you can avail of this deal by just making a switch from a conventional grid connection to a solar grid connection without compromising your comfort but contributing towards a greener environment.
In this article, we’ve defined an on-grid solar energy system in detail. By the end of this article, we hope to give you a detailed understanding of a grid-connected photovoltaic system.
What is a Grid-connected solar energy system?
A grid-tied solar energy system is connected to the local utility grid, allowing consumers to gain profit from both solar energy as well as grid connection.
In this, the flow of electricity is bidirectional, i.e. one can import and export the energy to and from the grid. This makes people with grid-connected systems PROSUMERS – they are both producers and consumers.
You might wonder how with a grid-connected solar energy one can consume and sell energy?
To answer this let us understand what components are used in the on-grid solar energy systems:
The Grid-connected solar energy system consists of three main components:
- Solar Panel: The solar panel is considered as the heart of the solar energy system. It helps in converting the solar radiation incident on the panel into useful direct current(DC).
- Inverter: Inverter is the most important when it comes to supplying power to all the household devices. The energy produced from solar panels is DC whereas our house operates on AC (Alternate current), the solar inverter is connected to the grid and house for converting the DC to AC. The solar inverter is basically of three types:
- Net Meter: The net meter is a device that is linked between the inverter and the grid connection. It aids in keeping track of the energy that is imported and exported to the grid connected, and the appropriate charges are made for invoicing.
How does a grid-tied solar system work?
When solar radiation is incident on the solar panels, with the help of the photovoltaic principle it generates direct current (DC). The generated DC energy is converted into AC energy using the grid-tied inverter and is further supplied to various electrical loads through the wiring.
During daytime, the sun shines bright and the solar energy system operates at its optimum level. This is the peak operating time where the generated energy is greater than the energy required at our location.
This surplus generated energy is sent to the grid connected and measured using a bidirectional net meter.
Net metering is used to calculate the amount of energy supplied and imported from the grid and generates the monthly bills accordingly.
Solar panels cannot provide the necessary amount of electricity in cloudy or dark conditions; as a result, the necessary power needs to be imported from the utility grid at a cost.
Why go for a grid-connected solar energy?
- Easy installation
- Reduced electricity bills by almost 90%
- Less costly compared to off-grid and hybrid solar energy systems as it saves the cost incurred in battery installation.
- You will get the credit for the surplus energy produced by the utility grid.
- No limitations on the number of loads to be connected.
- Consumers can avail of government subsidies and incentives for on-grid solar panel installation.
As the system is connected to the utility grid, during power cuts the solar energy system stops working.
One always gets confused between these two, string inverters are the popular choice for rooftop/residential consumers or most captive solar projects. When it comes to very large solar power plant projects of a few MW, a central inverter proves to be a good alternative.
Before purchasing a grid-tied inverter make sure it is national standards council certified. This ensures that all the safety guidelines are followed by the manufacturer.
Well, you don’t need to go and check, a back and forth meter also known as a net meter which is installed between the distribution panel and the grid will help in analyzing the difference between the amount of power generated and used. It moves in the forward direction when the energy generated is less than the energy used and reverse direction when the condition is opposite.