Solar power can provide you with a reliable, renewable energy source. However, most solar users still prefer to stay connected to the city grid as well. There are many reasons for this (in fact, it might be illegal to disconnect from the grid in some areas), but one key reason is the ability to take advantage of net metering from your city. What is net metering, and what do you need to know about it before installing a grid-tied solar power system? Keep reading to find out.
What Is Net Metering?
Net metering is an incentive that many cities offer to solar power users. When your solar panels create excess energy, that energy can be fed back into the power grid. This runs your energy meter backward by whatever amount you send to the city, effectively creating a “negative” energy usage. By sharing your solar power with other homes in your neighborhood, you can earn a credit on your power bill that offsets any power you might use when your panels aren’t producing.
So, in addition to providing you with no-cost power throughout the day, your solar panels can also provide you with utility credits that further reduce your power bill. This can be a significant incentive for solar users who intend to still rely on the power grid in the evenings.
Can You Get Cash from It?
Let’s say that you put more power into the grid than you pull out, and at the end of the month, you’re still in that “negative energy usage” position. Will your utility company pay you for the power you provided them? Unfortunately, that’s probably not going to happen. Net metering can be used to reduce your power bill (perhaps down to $0), but it’s not going to give you a payout at the end of the month.
Are There Limits?
The answer to this will vary depending on where you live. While some cities don’t put any caps on how much energy you can put into the power grid, others do. For example, some areas in taxes have a net metering limit of 50 kW. If net metering is a critical factor for you when deciding whether or not you want to get solar, make sure you do your research and find out if there are net metering limits in your area.
What Type of System Do You Need?
There are three types of solar power systems: grid-tied, off-grid, and hybrid. If you hope to take advantage of net metering, you need to be connected to the grid. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t have your own solar energy storage. Both a grid-tie inverter and a hybrid inverter with batteries are capable of feeding power to the grid.