If you’ve been thinking about installing solar there are many reasons to get started today, including:
- Saving Money
- Saving the Environment
- Increasing Property Value
- Standardizing or Eliminating Utility Bill
- Taking Advantage of Tax Credits and Incentives
In order to achieve these universally appealing goals, you have a couple main options – installing either a grid-tied solar system or an off-grid solar system.
At MOXIE, we primarily install grid-tied solar systems. This is mainly because we’re laser-focused on helping our customers save the most money right away while also setting them up with a sound long-term investment. Also, our in-house utility company liaisons have found that it is a bit more difficult for customers to get off-grid solar permitting approval when the option to tie into the grid is readily available. Luckily, there are numerous practical and financial benefits to having your solar system grid-tied and we’ve already helped thousands of solar customers take advantage of them.
What is a Grid-Tied Solar System?
First, let’s establish exactly what a grid-tied solar system is.
The simplest definition of a grid-tied solar system is one that is connected to the electrical power grid and is reliant on this grid to be running in order for the system to produce usable solar energy and funnel excess energy for net metering, clean energy credits, or later usage.
It may seem counterintuitive to install a solar power system that is reliant on the same energy grid you’re trying to get away from, however, once you understand the facts of how a grid-tied solar system works and the benefits it provides over an off-grid system, it will make much more sense.
How Does Grid-Tied Solar Work?
In this quick video, Moxie Solar’s own Julian Vandervelde explains how a grid-tied solar system works and how it can save you money.
Video Transcript: Today we’re going to talk about a grid-tied system. One of the questions we get a lot is, well, where do the batteries go? In a modern system, most of the time there aren’t any. The way that is works: you’ve got your sun, you’ve got your house, and you’ve got your solar. Couple pieces of equipment that make this whole thing work: you’ve got an inverter, you’ve got your meter, and you have the electrical grid. So the suns going to hit the panels and create direct current electricity. That direct current is going to run to an inverter. The inverter switches it from DC to AC (alternating current) which is what we use in our house. When you’re producing more power than you’re able to use, that excess is going to get flushed out through the grid and it’s going to be stored there as a form of kilowatt hour bank, an electricity savings account if you will. When you’re not producing as much as you’re using, during the night or in the middle of winter, you’re going to pull from the grid again. Our goal is to get you to a point where the energy that’s going out equals the cost of the energy that’s coming in, and thus, zeros out your energy bill.
3 Main Advantages of Installing Grid-Tied Solar
Let’s jump right into the main advantages of grid-tied solar systems:
- Grid-tied systems are typically a lower initial expense as they do not require certain equipment that off-grid systems do
- You can take advantage of net metering (and SRECs in some states) and save even more money while also ensuring your solar energy is never wasted
- You have a backup energy source and you’re helping to improve the efficiency of the main electrical grid during peak usage times (note: This is extremely useful if you’re just looking to supplement some of your energy usage with a lower-cost solar system, or if there are limitations to how large of a solar system can be installed on your property)
Are There Any Drawbacks to Grid-Tied Solar?
Depending on your location and personal energy goals, there are some potential limitations to installing grid-tied solar that you should be aware of.
- If the main power grid happens to go down, your grid-tied system will shut off in order to prevent energy from feeding into the system and potentially harming utility workers (note: adding a backup battery to your grid-tied system will allow you to still have power in these situations, see next paragraph)
- If you’re in an extremely remote or underdeveloped area without nearby power lines, installing grid-tied solar may not be feasible
Another Option: Grid-Tied Solar Systems with Battery Backup
Adding one or several battery backups to a grid-tied solar system allows you to reduce your dependency on the grid without sacrificing the attractive money-saving benefits these types of solar energy systems offer.
Keep in mind that you do not need a battery backup, since the main utility grid is essentially a massive battery. Installing a grid-tied system without your own personal battery backup not only saves you money initially, but it also eliminates maintenance and the need for replacement batteries down the road.
Benefit of Having Battery Backup
On the other hand, installing a grid-tied system with battery backup, can help prevent a complete loss of power in those situations where the grid goes down unexpectedly. Adding two backup solar batteries, such as Tesla Powerwall, typically gives a home up to 5-6 hours of extra power to offset situations where energy is scarce or nonexistent. You’ll be the only house on the block with the lights still on!
The Bottom Line
No matter which type of solar energy system you choose, you will be saving money on energy costs and increasing the value of your home or land in the long run. Plus, the whole saving the planet things isn’t too bad either!
However, if you’re looking to streamline your short-term energy savings, maximize your long-term solar investment, and ensure you always have a viable backup energy source, grid-tied solar systems are the way to go.