Grid Tie Solar Basics
Alaska Solar Supply, LLC is all about custom systems. When you understand the basics power system suited for your specific goals, you can confidently choose the option that gives you all the comfort, security, and convenience you want and need, anytime, anywhere.
The straightforward grid-tied solar system is currently the most popular choice for both homes and businesses. Grid-tied simply means this type of system is connected to, and relies on, the existing utility electrical grid as an essential system component.
A grid-tied solar electric system – also referred to as grid-tied PV (photovoltaics) – uses solar panels and other components to turn sunlight into electricity for your use, while your home remains hooked up to the local utility. An array of solar panels is installed (usually in the roof of the building) and connected to the homes electrical systems. The electricity is first used to power the homes immediate electrical needs.
When those needs are met, the additional electricity is sent out to the grid through your utility meter. In this instance, your utility grid functions as a part of the overall solar system , which why it is referred to as grid-tie solar. This is different from an off-grid, or stand-alone, solar system where your structure is not hooked up to utility power.
Once the electricity goes into the grid, your utility company tracks the energy sent into the grid from your solar production. What credit you get for your energy depends on your local regulations and utility company’s rules. Whether or not your are using an installer, it is important to know how to best take advantage of your local programs to get the best return on your investment in solar.
Because grid-tie solar is able to take advantage of a wide range of benefits and is also virtually maintenance-free, it is clear to see why it is currently the most commonly installed solar system on residential homes!
Benefits of Grid-Tie Solar System
Grid-tied solar systems are extremely popular because they guarantee your investment.
- Grid-tied systems are eligible for a 26% federal income/investment tax credit as well as a sales tax exemption. This applies to the total cost of the installation – not just the equipment.
- You see savings on your immediate electrical costs as the solar is activated and starts producing electricity. This is why the most common reason people install a solar grid-tie system is to reduce their utility bills. Once your system is operating, the power it provides is free and there is little to no maintenance required.
- Solar system owners are protected against increasing utility prices on electricity for the life of the system. Generally this is minimum of 30 years, and there are many systems still working that are 40+ years old.
- Solar increases a property’s value and resale appeal as soon as you have solar, this solar premium takes effect. Solar makes a home more attractive to potential buyers, particularly when compared to an otherwise identical home. This can make a big difference should you decide to sell your home in a tight real estate market.
- Grid-tie systems can easily be designed as grid-hybrid systems, by adding batteries and possibly a generator that will provide backup power for selected items in your house that you consider essential. Grid hybrid solar systems combine the production and financial advantages of a grid-tied system, with the convenience and security of backup power that is available when your utility power goes out.
Off-Grid Solar System Basics
1. Solar Panel (PV Module)
Solar panels or modules are made of solar cells. A solar cell is an electrical device that converts the energy of light directly into electricity (DC) using the photovoltaic effect. The process of conversion first requires a material which absorbs the solar energy (photon), the produces electrons, which the flow to an external circuit. Silicon which is a key component used in the production of PV modules, is one such material that uses this process.
2. Charge controller
Charge controllers may also be called solar regulators. These components regulate the amount of energy that is passed on to the battery bank. Some charge controllers/solar regulators have additional features, such as low voltage disconnect (LDV), a separate circuit which remove loads (energy draws) when the battery becomes overly discharged, and additional circuitry that eliminates potential overcharging; both of which reduce the life of the battery banks.
3. Battery Bank
An inverter’s basic function is to “invert” the direct current (DC) output (the power from the PV modules) into alternating current (AC). AC is the standard used by all commercial appliances, which is why many view inverters as the “gateway” between the photovoltaic (PV) system and the energy consuming ads.
6. Balance of systems
7. Load evaluation
Alaska Solar Supply will help you get a properly designed system, obtain quality components, and install if needed.