It can be pretty intimidating when looking at investing in solar panels. There are often a bunch of words and phrases that make no sense to you, such as Net Metering.
Here at Shine Solar, education is important to us. We want you to fully understand the process to going solar before you make that big investment.
One of those phrases that you will hear a lot in the solar industry is: Net Metering.
What is Net Metering
The dictionary definition of Net Metering is:
Noun “A system in which solar panels or other renewable energy generators are connected to a public-utility power grid and surplus power is transferred onto the grid, allowing customers to offset the cost of power drawn from the utility.”
Basically, if your house isn’t using all the energy your solar panels are producing, then the extra energy will be sent back to the electric grid. Your utility company will keep track of how much energy you send back and give you credits for the energy. If you want a more technical explanation go here.
How Net Metering works
Every morning, when sunlight hits your solar panels, the panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity that can be used to power a home or business.
During the day, if the solar array’s production meets the house’s electrical needs, the excess electricity is fed back into the power grid.
Your power company automatically keeps track of the amount of energy that you send back into the grid and will pay you for the energy your solar panels create.
What will Net Metering do for you
By feeding back energy into the grid, you will offset the costs that your home incurs. During the night or on cloudy days your solar panels aren’t producing as much energy. This is when you use energy from your electrical company.
Depending on the size of your system and how much energy you use, this could also mean that you are earning money everyday from your solar panels by providing surplus energy.
How this works with your electric company
When you go solar, a representative from your electrical company will come to inspect your solar panels.
At this time, the representative will remove your old meter that would only track the electrical current going from the grid to your house. They replace it with a new meter that will track the energy as it moves in both directions. This will allow the company to track how much energy you are using from their system and how much energy you are producing and sending back to them.
You can check your utility company’s website to find out more about net metering with your utility company.
You can also learn more about what to expect on your electrical bill after going solar by reading our blog post “The Truth about Connection Fees.”
Why you should choose to stay on the grid
“Going off the grid” doesn’t mean you are running off to Mexico to start a new life incognito.
In solar, it means whether you choose to stay connected to your utility company. Or whether you choose to be unconnected and to use batteries as your energy storage.
Your home will continue to be connected to your utility company’s system if you choose to stay on the grid. This allows you to use some of their energy if you are ever using more than you are producing. This public grid becomes your backup.
It also becomes a way of paying back your solar panels with the money you make from the surplus energy.
If you choose to go off the grid, you will no longer be connected to your utility company. You will need to purchase batteries so you can store your extra energy for later use. This technology is not well developed and can often be expensive. However by choosing to stay on the grid, doesn’t mean you won’t have the option go off the grid someday.