Solar Energy and the Grid

When considering the switch to solar energy, understanding how a home solar system interacts with the grid is essential. Contrary to common belief, a residential solar system does not completely disconnect your home from the grid. Instead, the majority of solar homes remain grid-tied, drawing additional power from the grid when needed and feeding surplus solar production back into the grid. In this detailed guide, Your Home Solar will explain how solar energy integrates with the grid, including how solar energy is fed back into the grid and the role of the utility company in a solar setup.

Net Metering in Tennessee

Before diving in, it’s important to note that as of June 30th, 2023, full net metering is not offered by any utility company in East Tennessee. Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar homeowners for the excess electricity they generate and send back to the grid. While some utility companies in Tennessee offer a similar credit program for excess solar production, the specifics of these programs vary by company. We recommend that you inquire about your specific utility’s policies if you’re considering solar. The team at Your Home Solar can also help you navigate this process and find the information you need.
Cost and Financing of Solar Systems

The Role of the Utility Company in a Solar Setup

Even with a solar panel system installed at your home, your utility company continues to play a crucial role in your energy setup

Supplemental Power Supply

There will be times when your solar panels are unable to produce enough power to meet your home’s energy needs, such as at night or during periods of heavy cloud cover or bad weather. During these times, you will draw the additional power you need from the grid, provided by your utility company.

Utility Credits

As mentioned earlier, some utility companies in East Tennessee provide a credit program for the excess power your solar system produces and feeds into the grid. These credits can be used to offset the cost of electricity you draw from the grid when your panels are not producing enough power. The specifics of these programs can vary, so it’s crucial to understand your utility’s policies.

Grid Maintenance

Utility companies are responsible for maintaining the electrical grid infrastructure, including the power lines that carry electricity to and from your home and the electrical meter on your property. This infrastructure allows for the smooth flow of electricity to and from the grid.

While a solar panel system allows you to generate a significant portion of your own power, the utility company and the electrical grid remain crucial components of a residential solar setup.

How Solar Energy is Fed Back Into the Grid

Your solar panel system’s main job is to supply power to your home. When your panels produce more electricity than your home needs, this excess electricity can be sent back into the grid. This is facilitated by your solar system’s inverter, which has the crucial job of converting the direct current (DC) electricity that your panels produce into alternating current (AC) electricity that your home can use. The inverter is also designed to safely and efficiently coordinate with the grid, enabling excess power to be fed back into it. However, it’s important to remember that in the event of a power outage, most grid-tied solar inverters are designed to shut off for safety reasons. This is to avoid potentially sending electricity into the grid, which could pose a risk to utility workers repairing the power lines.

If you’re a resident of East Tennessee considering the transition to solar, Your Home Solar is here to help. We offer expert advice and free inspections to get you started on your journey to a more sustainable and potentially cost-effective energy future. Contact us today for a free estimate.

Empower Your Home with Solar Energy in East Tennessee!

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