Solar4Scholars: Grid-Tied Solar Energy
What is grid-tied solar energy?
Homes or businesses in cities, towns and rural areas are almost always connected to the energy grid. This means that they have usable electricity supplied to them through wires. In more remote areas, homes, cabins or farms may find it beneficial to use independent solar power.
Grid-tied solar systems are becoming very popular. It is easier now for people to invest in solar energy, as the price of oil rises and governments encourage people to use renewable energies.
How does a grid-tied solar system work?
A system controller automatically decides whether to draw power from the solar panels or from the regular grid. If it is sunny, and enough electricity is being produced by your solar electric panels, your house will get its power from there. If there is not enough sun, the house is powered the way all other houses are: with electricity supplied by the regular grid. In many areas a process called net metering allows people to sell their excess solar electricity back to the utility company.
What are the parts of a grid-tied solar energy system?
Using a grid inter-tied solar electricity system, you may collect all or part of your home's energy needs. A grid inter-tied solar energy system has these parts or components to it:
- Solar panels (called a panel array)
- An inverter changes direct current electricity (DC) to alternating current (AC)
Those listed above are primary, but there are some others, too, including:
- An array DC disconnect halts electricity from the panels, during maintenance.
- The breaker panel (or "fuse box")
- A Kilowatt Hour Meter, used by the utility company to calculate electricity bills.
- A Utility Disconnect allows your local utility company to disconnect the system when they are doing maintenance work on wires near your house.
Occasionally, a grid inter-tied system may have a battery system, if the home or business absolutely requires a steady stream of electricity. An example of this might be an auto body shop or farm. The battery in solar electric systems is called a deep cycle battery. It is more durable than a car battery. A battery system will also require something called a charge controller to stop overloading your battery.
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