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3 Benefits of a Grid-Tied Solar PV Array

We established that you will lose power when the rest of your neighborhood does, if electricity from the grid (supplied by your power company) goes out. An easy and cost-effective way to avoid power outages, if this is a big concern to you, is simply purchase a gas- or diesel-powered generator and use it to power essential appliances (like your refrigerator) during a power outage or rolling blackouts. It’s not environmentally-friendly, but we’re talking emergency use only.

Just think of all you’re gaining, though, with a grid-tied solar array:

1. Have power even on cloudy days and at night. — Your grid-tied solar PV system feeds electricity into “the grid”, so on cloudy days or at night, you draw electricity from your electric company to power your home. “The grid” is like a giant storage system for your solar PV array, so you don’t need battery back-up.

2. Avoid the environmental and financial costs associated with battery back-up for your solar PV array. — Battery back-up is available for solar systems, and typically used by homesteading families who are in very rural areas where there is no grid. But this type of system is expensive (usually not worth the cost), dangerous, and bad for the environment when they need to be disposed of. The batteries contain hydroflouric acid and are made with flammable lithium-based products. It’s far easier, safer, and more cost-effective to remain tied to the grid and get your power from your utility company at night and on cloudy days.

3. Get money back as you feed solar energy to your power company and your meter runs backward. — Being tied to the grid offers one major benefit that a battery back-up system does not. By feeding solar power to the electric company, you’re doing something called “net metering.” You get kW (kiloWatt hour) credits for the electricity you feed into the grid, which counts as credits on your electric bill when you need energy from the grid (like on cloudy days and at night). This is how you realize cost savings and your solar array starts paying for itself (in as little as three years, depending on pricing and the incentives available in your area.)

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A full-time freelance writer, Dawn frequently covers energy efficiency, green living, and topics like LED lighting and whole home control systems for a number of blogs and technology trade magazines. Dawn is proud to live in New York as the state vies to beat out New Jersey as the East coast top dog of solar energy and is waiting for the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate legislation to pass before installing solar panels on her Long Island home.

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