Most people nowadays are starting to rely on solar systems as the source of power for their homes, businesses, and apartments. The use of solar energy is not only pocket-friendly and effective, but it is also a "green" or environmental-friendly way to generate electricity to light up our homes and power households electrical appliances like air conditioners and fridges.
When you decide to invest in this alternative source of renewable energy, you must think and plan about solar integration for your solar system to make the most use of solar energy during the day. Integrating solar energy into the electrical grid system to power all electrical appliances in your home is an issue you may need to discuss with a trained and licensed contractor for professional guidance on how to proceed with this life-changing investment.
What You Need to Know About Solar Integration for Your Solar System
The technology behind the generation of solar energy and how it works may seem complex to a layman, particularly if you want to integrate your excess solar energy into the electric grid system. While sometimes you might install solar panels on your own, integrating the excess solar energy into the main electricity grid might require expertise to avoid leaving any room for faulty and dangerous connections.
Typically, solar power integration entails developing tools and technologies that allow the available solar energy in your home to penetrate the electricity grid system while maintaining grid efficiency, reliability, and security.
Connecting your solar power energy to the national electricity grid system allows you to participate in the valuable part of producing your power or electricity. Once you choose to integrate your solar energy into the electricity grid system, you should expect to generate more energy than you need some days because of the variation of sunlight or when you aren't at home.
When your solar panel system generates or produces more electricity than you need to light up your home and power household appliances during a sunny day, you can sell the excess energy back to the power grid system. Your local power company will offer you credits for the excess energy that your solar panels are feeding to the grid system, depending on your feed-in tariff or net metering.
That means you will pay less in your monthly electricity bill, or you might even receive a positive repayment directly to your account. When your solar panel systems are not producing electricity at night or on dark days, your home power will come from the main electricity grid system. In that case, the usual billable charges will apply for the net electricity that you will consume during that period.
Components You Will Need During Solar Integration for Your Solar System
For a successful solar energy integration from your solar system to the electrical grid system, you will need the following crucial components:
A Collection of Solar Panels
Once you decide to use solar energy in your home, you must determine the amount of electric power you want to generate and the monthly electricity consumption you need to offset to know how many solar panels you will need for this investment.
To know which is the best solar panel to install in your home to complement your exterior house design, you should seek professional advice from your contractor. Below are types of solar panels your contractor may advise you to choose, depending on your energy needs:
- Polycrystalline silicon panel systems
- Silicon solar panel systems
- Building-integrated panels
Ensure you take ample time to find a company that sells the type of solar panel you need for your home or business grid-connected solar system.
The most critical component your contractor will need for solar integration for your solar system is the inverter. Since your solar panels will be generating direct current (DC), you will need an inverter to transform it into alternating current (AC) electricity, which matches the voltage and frequency of the primary electricity grid system.
Ensure you choose the best inverter available according to your budget because the main consideration during solar energy integration into your electrical grid system is:
- Power — The lowest and highest electric voltage your inverter can handle
- Efficiency — The inverter you will decide to buy must be efficient in converting DC to AC power
An Electricity Meter
Even if you have an existing electric meter in your home, you may have to purchase another new meter if you want to go "green" by installing a solar energy system. You will need an electricity meter, also known as Kilowatt-hour (kWh), to indicate the amount of solar energy you are consuming and the amount of power you will transfer to the national electric grid system.
A grid-connected solar system will halt or slow down the aluminum disc in your electric meter, causing it to spin anticlockwise, typically known as net metering. Net metering enables your electric company to know how much credit you deserve for the solar energy you are transferring to the grid system and how much your electricity consumption is from the grid.
An AC Breaker and Disconnect
To avoid any possible power safety issues, you must budget for an AC breaker and disconnects or fuses to control any power surges that can damage your solar electrical power system and household appliances. The AC breaker you will need is generally the usual type of fuse box that people require during domestic electric power installation and supply.
Cabling and Safety Switches
Your solar panels will continue producing electricity as long as the sun is shining every day. Therefore, you must be able to disconnect the power from the inverter anytime you want to do some testing or maintenance. For that reason, you will need isolator safety switches that can handle the maximum direct current (DC) voltage and the array's current.
You will also need inverter safety switches which can separate easily anytime you want to disconnect your solar power system. Other safety components your contractor may need for solar system power integration onto the electricity grid include:
The Electricity Grid
Solar integration for your solar system is only possible if there is an electricity grid to supply you with power at night. An electrical grid is generally a network of power transmission circuits and power stations and substations that produce and supply electricity to people’s homes, businesses, and apartments for their use.
There must be an electricity grid within your location for a successful grid-connected solar power system for your home use. Otherwise, without it, it will not be a grid-connected solar power system, which is very beneficial to consumers.
An Interconnection Agreement
Finally, and not the least important requirement, if you want to embark on this renewable source of energy for your home use, you will need an interconnection agreement. An interconnection agreement is a legal document you will obtain from your utility company outlining your grid-connected solar power system's specific full details and information.
Do I Need to Store Solar Energy After Integrating it into the National Electricity Grid?
Even if you choose to integrate your solar energy into the electricity grid system to generate credits, you can still install home batteries to store the excess solar energy if you wish. Since you can only generate solar power energy only when there is sunlight, it might be beneficial to have a backup energy storage system for use at night when the sun isn't shining.
While it might be a bit expensive, storing solar energy into batteries can work out in your favor if you live in a remote area that experiences frequent loss of grid power supply due to bad weather conditions.
In case of a sudden blackout, even if you have a grid-connected solar power system, you will not have the power to use in your home if you don't have backup batteries to store your excess energy. It is possible to store your solar panel system’s excess energy during the day into batteries for use at night.
After charging your battery fully, you can divert the excess solar power back onto the electricity grid system for feed-in tariff or credits from your power company. When you store your excess solar energy into batteries for use at night when it is not sunny, you will only rely on the regular electricity grid if the batteries’ power depletes, which will reduce your electricity bill significantly.
Below are different types of power/energy storage in a grid-connected solar system you may want to consider for storing the excess solar power in your home, business, or apartments:
- Pumped-storage hydropower
- Virtual storage
- Compressed air storage
- Thermal energy storage
- Flywheel storage
- Solar fuels
The benefits of combining power storage and the grid-connected solar system are not only limited to providing you with electricity when there is a blackout. Other exceptional benefits of using batteries to store excess energy in a grid-connected solar system include:
"Firming" Your Solar Generation System
Short-term storage of the excess solar energy in your home protects your solar power plant when there is a quick or rapid change in power generation. For instance, you can use one small battery to ride through a short-term disruption of the solar power generation from any passing cloud to maintain a "firm" source of electric power that is consistent and reliable.
Balancing Electricity Loads
Without a solar power storage plan, you will have to consume the electricity you are producing from the solar panel system directly at the same time. That means the electricity grid operators can take the excess power generation from your solar panel system offline or reduce it to avoid grid reliability concerns or over-generation.
How Do I Choose the Right Contractor for Solar Power Integration in My Home?
Using a grid-connected solar power system in your home is a game-changer and an investment you cannot regret. However, you will need a reliable contractor in your corner for the best and a productive grid-connected solar power generation system. Here are tips that can help you to filter out mediocre contractors from your options list:
Look for an Accredited Contractor/Company
First and foremost, you should purposely find a contractor with accreditations from other professional bodies, institutions, or organizations in this field of business, like the California Solar Initiative (CSI). Working with an accredited contractor shows a sense of professionalism and gives you the confidence to trust the expert's services.
Look for a Licensed Contractor/Company
When your prospective contractor asks for upfront payment before the work is complete, you may trust him/her as long he/she is legally licensed to conduct this business. However, if the contractor is unlicensed, you cannot trust him/her with your money because it is illegal to provide these services to the public without a license.
Ensure you ask your prospective service provider to show you his/her business license, even if he/she is an independent contractor.
Find a Company With a Friendly, Courteous, and Trustworthy Team of Experts
Any professional contractor in this field of business must possess these attributes or traits because sometimes the scope of their work will necessitate them to access people's private properties. If the contractor you choose to hire to work on your solar system at home comes with a team of experts, they must be friendly and respectful to your family members during their time in your homestead.
Find an Experienced and Reputable Contractor/Company
Most experienced contractors out there will have a credible reputation preceding them after working with several clients with different solar power needs and delivering the best services. To find an experienced and reputable solar energy company, you may seek recommendations from your neighbors who are currently using this type of renewable energy source.
Find a Solar Energy Contractor Near Me
Hiring a qualified and reliable contractor is the key to achieving your goals on solar integration for your solar system. To talk to our experienced experts at Sun Solar Electric, call us now at 707-658-2157 to schedule your initial consultation for guidance and professional services on your solar energy system project in your home or business. We serve clients around Northern California and the Bay Area.