How A Grid-Connect Solar Power System Works

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How A Grid-Connect Solar Power System Works

A grid-connected solar power system is the most cost effective and simple type of solar power system. The main components of a grid connect system are solar panels and an inverter. Solar panels convert sunlight into DC electricity, and an inverter will turn DC electricity into usable AC electricity. A grid-connected solar power system will export excess solar power to the grid but maintain use of regular power from the grid at night (when panels are not producing power). The video below explains grid-connected solar power systems in greater detail:

Video: How A Grid-Connected Solar Power System Works

The Step By Step Process Of How A Grid-Connected Solar Power System Works

How a grid connect solar power system works in New Zealand

  1. When sunlight hits solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, electricity (or solar energy) is produced.

  2. The electricity runs from solar panels through an inverter. The inverter turns the power from direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), providing solar electricity to power electronic appliances in the home or office.

  3. As solar power is being produced during the day, and if appliances are in operation, solar power will run through a switchboard, thus powering appliances.

  4. Any appliance that is AC powered can use solar powered electricity; lights, dishwashers, electric hot water cylinders, to name but a few.

  5. If electrical appliances are switched off, or if excess solar power is being produced, the power gets sent to the grid and is measured by the meter box.  Electricity retailers apply credits in exchange for energy produced. During the night, when solar power systems are not producing energy, power can be drawn from the grid. This can be paid for with credits earned

Advantages Of Grid-Connected Systems;

  • Reduced electricity bill

  • Protection against power price increases

  • Allows you to consume 100% renewable energy

  • No need for costly battery storage

How To Make The Most Of A Grid-Connected Solar Power System

The best way to optimise a return on investment with a grid-connected system is by utilising as much generated solar power as possible.

Using self-generated solar power is worth-while; why waste money on expensive grid power? (typically around 30 cents per kWh). Immediately taking advantage of solar power is the best option for return on investment. Using solar power directly is known as solar power self-consumption, you can find more information on solar power self-consumption.

Regular Energy Bills With A Grid Connected Solar Power System; What to Expect

Separate line items will be viewable on the power bill each month; On the first line is the amount of power used, the price per unit and the total cost of power used (imported power). The second line shows the amount of solar power exported to the grid, the price per unit the energy retailer is paying, and the total credit amount received from exporting power. This credited amount will be subtracted from the total cost of power used.

Find out what different energy retailers pay for exported solar power here.

How Does A Solar Panel Work?

Standard solar panels have at least a dozen silicon squares within the frame (solar cells).  Solar cells convert sunlight (photons) into an electrical current.

Silicon is a semiconductor; it’s able to absorb a percentage of the photons emitted by the sun as they hit the solar cells. As the solar cells are bombarded with photons, the electrons are knocked loose, allowing them to flow freely.

The solar cells have an electric field that allow loose electrons to flow in one direction.  Metal contacts (both on top and the bottom of solar cells) allow the current to be fed through a solar cable to reach the solar inverter. As DC electricity is created via solar cells, the inverter converts the current into AC electricity; you then have electricity to be used however you choose!

Check out our Components page for more information about solar panels and other solar system parts, components and essentials.