DIY Green Energy For Homes

Grid Intertied Solar-Electric System

There are a number of ways through which you can reduce your energy consumption and therefore slash energy costs. Using renewable sources is the most obvious means of complimenting a home’s energy needs.

There are other subtle measures you can take to achieve this, such as being mindful about wastage and switching off appliances while not in use, using appliances that are less energy intensive, conserving water to reduce heating, among others.

The most common form of renewable energy is solar. It is usually the first choice of alternative energy for most homeowners who consider a renewable source to compliment their power needs. It is also relatively cheaper and generates slightly more energy for its price, compared to wind for instance.

A solar electric system consists of many components but the solar cells, inverters and batteries are the core parts. The solar cells (photovoltaic cells) absorb solar energy – by means of a special semiconductor material usually silicon – and convert it to direct current, which is then converted into usable alternating current by the converter. It is then transmitted to the batteries for storage and distribution.

In a grid intertie solar system, a DC-AC inverter has more functions other than just converting direct current to alternating current.

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Grid intertie system

Power intermittency of solar (and wind electric systems) is what necessitates a grid intertie system. A grid intertie system is one where your private solar electric system is wired onto your utility grid’s supply system. At the center of this intertie system is the inverter, which does the following functions:

• It continuously monitors any voltage changes in the utility company’s electric supply, as well as monitoring outages and frequency changes. The inverter is designed in such a way as to switch off automatically in the event that there’s serious electrical variance or in case of grid failure.

• The inverter collects and displays (on an LCD screen) information about the solar system’s overall performance, which includes real-time and past power generation, as well as the working status of the inverter itself.

• Another important function of the inverter is to synchronize the alternating current from the grid with that it produces, which it then feeds into the meter and then to the grid. Because your solar system is generating power, your meter will slow down depending on how much is produced and, in some cases it will run backwards when the all the power being produced is not used.

In states that allow ‘net-metering’ such as California, the utility company will give you credit (at retail price rate each time your meter runs backwards.

Normally, you will not receive a payment in cash form in a net-metering system but the credit you receive when you produce excess power is carried forward to the ensuing months until it is used up. If you constantly generate excess power, you can forget about energy bills altogether and the return on investment on your solar system can take a few years.

An inverter basically provides the convenience and simplicity of plug and play in a grid intertie system.

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