Grid Tie Inverter - How To Connect Your System To The Power Grid

The Most Comprehensive DIY Solar Panel GuideThere are three main types of solar inverters: grid tie inverter, standalone inverter, and battery backup inverter. Grid-tied inverters are electrical devices that match the utility sine wave, and allow you to feed your solar-generated electricity into your local utility grid. The device will automatically shut down in case of a power outage for safety reasons. A grid tie inverter cannot provide backup power.

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Why would you want to tie your solar powered system to the power grid?

  • You will be able to use the electricity that was generated by your solar powered system to power your home appliances (from the solar generator to the power grid, from the grid to your appliances).
  • Once excess electric is generated by your system, you will see your meter spinning backwards, and will either get credit on your next power bill or get a check from your local utility company.

A question often asked by homeowners is this: Why do some people get checks and others only get credit on their next power bill? This discrepancy is the result of different power selling policies employed by various electric companies. Depending on the electric company that your house is connected to, you can either get a check or a credit. In either case, the company is obligated to take your excess energy.

How does a grid tie inverter work?
A grid tie inverter is designed to convert the DC electricity generated by the solar panels into the normal AC electricity suitable for home use. Note that when the inverter converts the 12V direct current into regular 110V alternating current, this power conversion uses up some of the generated power.

A solar powered system that uses a grid-tied inverter would also include sunlight- absorbing solar panels, charge controller, and mounting hardware. If you decided to install such a system on your own, you would need to solder, wire, and mount your solar unit, and then tie it to the power grid.

A grid tie inverter can be purchased individually. However, if you are planning to purchase a DIY kit to build your solar-powered system, remember that an inverter will usually come with the kit.

When you are browsing through solar manuals and diagrams, you will notice that many systems also use batteries to store energy. Do you need a battery if you want to install a grid-connected system? No, you don't. However, if you want to provide yourself with a backup in case of a power outage, you may want to also include a battery into your system. Remember that the battery will increase the cost of your system, as well as it will make it harder to wire everything.

In case of a standalone solar powered system, it is important to choose the right inverter for your system. Even if you install a very large and powerful system, a weaker inverter may not allow you to use some of your home appliances, such as a microwave, vacuum cleaner, circular saw, and other energy-consuming appliances. Therefore, it would be wise to opt for a powerful inverter.

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