When working with solar energy systems, there are many facets that homeowners may need help understanding. We asked our technical expert, Eric Bentsen, Senior Sales Application Engineer, to answer some of the most pressing questions that you may have when dealing with solar energy systems.
Question: What is Net Metering?
Answer: Net metering is a system offered by local utility energy providers where they give homeowners credit for the excess solar their home produces. By connecting the solar energy and net metering system to the public-utility power grid, homeowners can generate surplus power, which is then transferred onto the grid, allowing customers to offset the costs of drawing power from the utility company. During the day, most solar homeowners produce more energy than they consume, thus making net metering an appropriate and feasible option.
It is also important to note that net metering programs are facilitated by utility companies, meaning each utility company will have different policies surrounding net metering. Each utility provider will have different eligibility requirements for net metering programs, so it is important for homeowners to research how net metering works in their geographic location. For example, credit systems may also differ depending on the policies employed by each respective region.
Net metering has a huge impact on the economy, driving employment and investment opportunities within the solar energy industry. Not only does net metering benefit individual homeowners, the impact of net metering also allows utilities to better manage electricity loads.
Question: Can I install solar myself?
Answer: One of the biggest incentives for do-it-yourself (DIY) solar energy system installations is undoubtedly the cost savings. By choosing to install your solar energy system yourself, you will save on expenses incurred for installation fees.
While the DIY market is growing quickly for solar energy system installations, it is important for homeowners to understand they will be working with hazardous voltages that present a risk to personal safety and property. Installing solar energy systems for households is quite a challenging task, which requires professional electrician’s skills. For everyday homeowners with little to no experience with electrical work, finding professionals to install their solar energy system will be safer. Thus, we recommend that all homeowners who are considering going solar, to find partnered and certified installers or electricians to install their solar energy system.
Question: I have a solar system. Do I have to do anything before going on vacation?
Answer: One of the biggest concerns a solar energy system homeowner may have is whether they should do anything with their system before leaving for vacation.
Generally, it is safe in most situations for homeowners to leave their solar energy system on, even when going on vacation. If they have a grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) system, it will continue to contribute solar to the grid and is only susceptible to power outages. However, if they have a backup system, it will transfer to battery power if the grid goes down. If a homeowner wants to be extra cautious and doesn’t want their batteries to discharge to a compromised level, they could just put the system in grid-bypass while they’re gone. That way, there won’t be any transfer to backup and won’t stand the risk of over discharging the battery in a way that would compromise its lifespan.
Customers who reside in areas prone to outages and don’t want to burden their batteries while they are away can turn off the backup system. Another scenario that would prompt homeowners to shut down their backup system would be if they are leaving home for an extended period. This means being absent for more than a month or an entire season.
Otherwise, in most cases, the most sensible choice is to just leave the system as is. Battery-based and grid-tied systems are autonomous and do not require homeowners to do anything special when leaving home.
- Net Metering = a system offered by local utility energy providers where they give homeowners credit for the excess solar their home produces.
- Do-It-Yourself = entails planning, system design, set up, and installations by the homeowner without help from installers or electricians.