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What is a grid-tie solar energy system?

A grid-tied system uses solar panels, a power inverter and other components to turn sunlight into electricity for your use, while your home remains hooked up to the local utility. On cloudy days or at night when the system is not generating enough energy, your system will pull energy from the traditional power grid to power your home.

On the flip side, when your system is generating power at full efficiency, the excess energy you generate will feed back into the utility company’s power grid.

How does a grid-tie system work?

When sunlight shines on solar panels they produce Direct Current (DC). That DC electricity is converted into household AC power by your power inverter, and it is then available for household use.

Does a grid-tie system use batteries?

No, a grid-tie system does not use batteries and does not store energy. You will not need to worry about safety and maintenance of the batteries or provide a suitable storage area.

However, because of the lack of batteries, a grid-tie system operates only when the power grid is available. When there is a power outage, the system will shut down. This is for the safety of line repair workers – feeding power back into the lines would put them at risk as they fix downed lines, etc.


How big a system does my home or business need?

Trail Battery and Solar can help you estimate the size of your system by examining your electric bill. Once we understand how much power you are using, we can help you decide how big a system you may need.

Most grid tied systems are designed to eliminate part of your power needs due to the up front expense of a large system that could eliminate all power costs.However, larger systems will cost less per kilowatt-hour generated. Many people choose a system that will only eliminate the most expensive electricity.

Why should I choose a grid-tie system?

A grid-tied solar system doesn’t have to meet all of the electricity demands of the home. Even the best of systems will not generate energy 24 hours a day and a grid-tied system will not “leave you in the dark” when you are not generating power.

The power grid is your backup for when your panels are not generating energy.


Unlike Grid-tie, Off-grid solar energy systems (battery systems) must have equipment for energy storage and will require a suitable place to store batteries. Battery systems also require regular maintenance and need to be vented to be safe and efficient. Costs can go up quickly, especially if you intend to power an entire house.

In short, Grid-tie systems require less equipment and lower installation and maintenance costs. Though Grid-tie is not cost-free, it generally requires less equipment and oversight.



Most people install a solar grid tie system to reduce their utility bills. When your system is running, the power you generate is free with little maintenance.

When you generate excess power, your meter will essentially run backwards, pushing power back into the electrical grid. Depending on how extensive your system is, in time you will pay back the cost of the equipment and installation and your power generation costs will be free (or reduced to a minimum).

Net metering is the term used for the billing process that credits the owners of grid-tied systems when they produce more energy than the home needs.

With net-metering, the power meter tracks the exchange between your solar system and the grid. Excess energy generation leads to your power meter spinning backward rather than forward, thus giving you a credit. The credit can then be used to offset payments for future power usage.


Another great incentive for installing solar is that the Federal government, and many states and local utilities, offer rebates, tax credits, low interest loans and other incentives for adding solar power.