Grid-Connected Systems – Homes with Utility Power
LOWER OR ELIMINATE YOUR UTILITY BILL
Many people ask about switching their home to independent power to get rid of their utility bill. In parts of the country where electricity prices are high, installing a grid-connected solar system is actually a good financial investment. Determining the kilowatt-hours consumed for a full year by looking at utility bills will make it easy to determine the cost of a solar power system that will eliminate or reduce the utility bill. Every kilowatt of grid-connected solar will deliver 1,000 to 1,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.
Often our customers want their lives and their homes to demonstrate clean, renewable energy use, even where utility lines are easily available. The use of clean energy sources in places where conventional energy is available, educates our society about the reality of clean energy.
Most states allow net metering, which means the electric meter will run backwards when more power is being produced than consumed. A credit for surplus electricity from sunny days can be used on cloudy days or at night when power is not being produced from solar.
Many states offer rebates for installing solar power and the federal government offers grants and tax credits of up to 30% of the cost of the system. If the system is installed on a business there are more tax advantages.
State incentives can be found by logging onto www.dsireusa.org. This website has the most up to date information as well as links to many state and local organizations.
Net metering can vary by each utility and in each state. Many of these programs and incentives require that a certified electrician sign off on the final installation and actually commission or turn on the system.
Most utilities require an interconnection agreement that outlines specific requirements that utility has in regards to safety measures, power quality, permitting, insurance, net metering credits and billing.
When installing a grid-connected system, it will need to be inspected and all components should be UL listed.
Not having UL products can void a homeowner’s insurance policy.
All of the products that Backwoods carries for grid-tie installation are approved for this purpose and have UL or ETL listings.
GRID-CONNECTED SOLAR SYSTEMS ARE VERY DIFFERENT THAN OFF-GRID SYSTEMS
Most grid-connected systems do not use batteries, which is normally the part of an off-grid system that requires maintenance and eventually wears out.
The utility serves the function of the system battery. Without a battery, costs are much less and operation is simple. However, a battery-less system does lose power anytime the utility has an outage.
BACKUP FOR UTILITY POWER OUTAGE
Usually solar modules are not needed in utility backup systems, because sunshine tends to be scarce when weather knocks out utility lines.
Systems with standby inverter and battery system can automatically support a few selected emergency needs during short utility outages. Batteries are kept at full charge by utility power until an outage, at which time the inverter automatically takes over the selected emergency needs.
A quiet, durable propane fueled generator set with a manual or automatic transfer switch can power the whole house during hours, days or even weeks of power outage emergency.
No major conservation or wiring changes in the home will be required (but it is wise to add several propane fuel direct-vent room heaters).
A local licensed electrician should install the transfer switch between a generator and the utility served circuits.
Our Schneider Conext XW PRO and Victron systems and a battery bank are a complete package for backup power. When solar modules are added to the design it also offers you the opportunity to sell power to the grid.