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Solar Energy Systems and Batteries | Solar Energy USA Blog Archive

Solar Energy Systems and Batteries

Posted on Friday, October 14th, 2011 at 9:40 am by Solar Energy USA

Solar energy system battery bank

Many people mistakenly think that all solar energy systems require batteries to provide you with electricity. The truth is that the majority of both residential and commercial solar installs are “grid tied” meaning power lines are still utilized to transfer power into your home or business. Adding solar panels to your roof creates a power plant that serves as your primary power source. But at night, when the sun goes down, the solar panels do not produce power and an alternative source of power is needed. This is where the power company comes in.

During the day when the sun is shining bright the solar panels on your home or business are absorbing energy from the sun, converting it to power, and sending it wherever power is needed. If you turn on your coffee maker in the morning as you wake up with the sunrise, your solar panels will send power into your home to provide you with the power needed for that fresh cup of joe. The same goes for turning on a light, a TV, or any type of appliance that runs on electricity.

When you leave your home and head to work in the morning your solar panels are still absorbing sunlight and converting it into power. But if your home does not require any power because nothing inside the home is turned on, the power your solar panels generate is sent into the grid where your neighbor (who works from home) pulls it from the power lines connected to his or her home and uses it to power his or her electronics.

The process is called “net metering” which basically means the power company will give you a credit for all of the energy your solar panels send into the grid. They still charge you for the energy you pull from the grid, at nighttime and when your solar panels are not producing 100% of your power needs, but your monthly bill will be lower because you re charged the net difference between the two.

You don’t need batteries for your solar energy system if you are tied to the grid. You do have the option of storing energy in batteries, but most people do not currently use them because they add unnecessary cost.

Net metering is sort-of like a virtual battery. Instead of storing your extra energy in a physical battery, however, it is sent to the grid and stored for a millisecond until it reaches one of your neighbors that need power. And compared to batteries, net metering is maintenance-free, costs next to nothing, and comes with a lifetime warranty.