Homeowner Don Born, talks about the solar electricity produced by his grid-tied solar electric array in Waldoboro, Maine

Don Born, a homeowner in Waldoboro, Maine, installs solar panels to save money and feel better about his source of electricity.

Grid-tied solar electricity (or solar photovoltaic electricity, “PV”) allows you to generate your home’s electricity whenever the sun is out; you can either use the solar power as it’s created, or export it to the grid and earn credits. Further, when the rate of electricity goes up, your solar array increases in value proportionally.

  • Lock in a fixed rate for electricity for 30+ years
  • Reduce carbon pollution from coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power plants
  • Less reliance on energy sources “from away” and the power grid

How a Grid-Tied Solar Electric System (With No Battery Backup) Works

How grid tied solar PV works1) Sunshine Hits Panels

Sunlight causes electrons to move through the wiring connecting your home’s solar photovoltaic panels, creating direct current (DC) electricity. Grid-tied photovoltaic arrays require no batteries, no complex wiring, and no moving parts.  Instead, they inter-tie directly with the grid (hence the name) allowing you to use the grid itself as a big battery.

2) Solar inverter converts DC power into AC power

The DC electricity produced by the solar panels is inverted into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used in your home. The AC electricity flows into your circuit panel and is available for any active electric loads: lights, television, computers, refrigerator, electric vehicles, etc.

3) Excess power is sent to the grid

If your solar photovoltaic production exceeds your demand, then the extra solar electricity is pushed from your home out to the grid. A separate meter tracks this exported electricity. Called net metering, at the end of the month the utility will reconcile the difference between your solar production vs. electrical consumption, and you either earn a credit or are billed accordingly. Earned credits carry forward up to a year. Retail net metering is currently protected and accessible for new customers in all the states where we offer service: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

What Happens when the Power Goes Out?

Solar electricity battery system

Installation of the next-gen Sonnen lithium-ion battery storage system at a customer’s home in Concord, New Hampshire. With the addition of batteries, a solar PV system can sustain a home through a power outage.

Because grid-tied systems are grid-dependent, they will shut down when the connection to the utility is lost (this is a safety regulation that prevents PV systems from accidentally backfeeding and injury utility line workers).  However, if you wish to maintain electricity in the event of a power outage, the ability to integrate battery storage with a grid-tied PV array is possible.

Why Invest in Solar?

Solar energy is one of the safest investment options on the market today, delivering:

  • 100% guaranteed financial return on investment (you get all of your money back, then an ‘annuity’ for decades in the form of avoided electricity costs)
  • Environmental return on investment (eliminate thousands of pounds of CO2 emissions annually)
  • Home equity return on investment (solar is proven to increase the value of any property by lowering cost of ownership)
  • Community return on investment (everyone benefits from cleaner air & reduced dependence on fossil energy)

Solar Energy Economics

Quite simply, owning your own solar electric array is the way to get the best price 40 year price of energy, compared to any other source. Consider:

solar cash purchase graph economics in Maine

Simulated economics of a solar cash (or self-financed) purchase in Maine. In Massachusetts there is an additional revenue stream through SRECs which halves the investment recovery time.

Use our solar calculator below to see what type of system might work for your home:

Solar photovoltaic system ownership comes with a powerful peace of mind: no matter what happens, you own a certain amount of your electric supply. As the cost of electricity increases, you pay no more for the same amount of electricity generated by solar. When the utility rate for power goes up, your solar power is worth proportionally more.

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