How to connect solar panels to the grid
- 02 Aug 2023
- 4 min
Over 90% of American solar systems are grid-tied. This configuration is the cheapest, guarantees good savings and allows you to sell extra energy to the utility. In this article, we’ll quickly cover the question of how to connect solar panels to the grid.
You don’t connect your PV system to grid by yourself
Interconnection is the last step of installing a solar panel system. By the time your solar system is ready to be connected to an electrical network, you should be done with finding a contractor, getting permits from authorities and having solar panels installed on your roof.
Interconnection the process of physically and electrically connecting solar panels to the grid.
Your installer or an electrician from a utility should be in charge of the interconnection process. Some utilities require you to have one electric meter that runs both forward and backward. Other utilities require two separate meters: one for incoming power you receive, and one for power you generate that goes back into the system. Sometimes utility provides these meters but they also may charge you for them.
Take paperwork seriously
Different regions may have specific guidelines on how are solar panels connected to the grid. Before installing solar panels, you should research and understand the regulations and requirements set by your local utility and government authorities.
Note that you'll need to sign a contract with your utility company. Your installer might help with the paperwork, but it's an agreement between you and the utility. Make sure to read the contract carefully, as it can vary from one utility to another. It should have information about who is responsible if something goes wrong.
Check with your homeowner's insurance provider, too, as you'll need to add the solar system to your policy. In many cases, you might need to add a special insurance addition for the grid-connected solar system.
Study net metering terms beforehand
Net metering is one of the ways how a solar system makes you money and a big reason for why people prefer to connect solar panels to the grid. When you pull the energy from the grid, the meter runs forward. When you export excess energy from your PV system, the meter goes backward. At the end of the month, you pay the difference.
Before going solar, it’s best to study how exactly net metering works in your state and what options your electricity provider offers. Ideally, you want to receive full retail credit or 1-for-1 compensation for your excess energy. In this case, you get paid for your kWhs just as much as you pay for electricity from the grid. However, net billing is getting more and more widespread in the US. The energy that a customer sends into the grid is credited at an avoided cost rate. This stands for money that the utility saves by not providing your house with energy, and it is much lower than the retail rate for electricity. Read more in our article “Take my energy: What is net metering and how it works”.
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