Adding solar panels to your home’s roof is an excellent decision for the environment and your savings, too. However, most homeowners don’t end up using all the energy generated from their solar systems. And if you’re on a strict budget, you might be against installing expensive solar batteries.
If you’re considering options like net metering to get the most out of your solar setup, you’ve come to the right place. Simple and affordable, net metering gives you the option to send power back to the grid and be compensated for the same.
Below, we’ve covered all the basics you should know about net metering systems. We’ve also listed the benefits and the setup procedure, so you know what you will need. Let’s start with some basics.
So, What Exactly Is Net Metering?
A net metering system is similar to a billing system that helps homeowners track the excess solar energy they send back to the grid. It helps you understand how much credit you’re eligible for after deducting the amount of energy you consume against what you supply to the grid.
How Does Net Metering Work?
When your solar panels generate power, it is fed directly to your home for your use. Solar panel providers install just the right amount of panels to supply energy for your daily needs. But on some days, you may not be able to use all of that power—this is where a net metering system comes into the picture.
The job of the net metering system is to measure the amount of energy that’s sent to the grid. It also measures the energy you pull from the grid so you can calculate your credits. In this sense, the net metering system uses a bidirectional meter to track energy flow to and from your house.
This meter also helps your utility provider calculate the energy sent and received every month. The difference is then billed to the homeowner if the energy received exceeds the energy sent. If the energy sent is higher, the difference is calculated as a credit balance and applied to the succeeding electricity bill.
Is Net Metering Available in all States Across the U.S.?
Net metering is available across all U.S. states, but the policies and regulations around it can vary greatly. State governments have their own incentive programs to encourage more households to adopt solar energy solutions along with net metering systems.
Benefits of Net Metering With Solar Energy
Net metering provides a host of advantages to homeowners. Below, we outline the financial, environmental, and social benefits.
A. Financial Benefits
1) Reduced Energy Bills
Solar panels already help lower your utility bills. But net metering takes this a step further—you can gain future credits for the solar energy you send back to the grid. These credits are balanced against bills for the energy your household pulls. This can lead to thousands in savings in the long term.
2) Potential for Earning Credits
Unless you have a solar battery, you risk wasting all the unused excess energy your solar system generates. Installing a net metering system means you will earn credits that you can use for future bills. And you will be able to make the most of your solar panels’ productivity over the years.
B. Environmental Benefits
1) Reduction in Carbon Footprint
By generating renewable energy to power your home, you reduce your carbon footprint. And by sending some of it back into the grid, you reduce your community’s reliance on traditional power sources, such as fossil fuels.
2) Support for Renewable Energy
Solar systems with net metering generate energy from renewable sources to use at home and supply to the local grid. Supporting the case for renewable energy will lead to a healthier environment and other sustainable measures.
3) Reduces energy lost during distribution
Energy distribution from the grid is a long and complex process that requires power to flow through multiple substations, transmission lines, etc. This extended journey results in the loss of some energy along the way.
This doesn’t happen with solar systems, which generate power at the point of use. This means the power you send to the grid is supplied to neighboring homes with little to no energy loss.
C. Energy Independence and Reliability
1) Self-Consumption of Solar Energy
Solar power is a renewable and free energy source accessible to everyone. Solar systems do not rely on the grid and remain unaffected in case of a grid failure. This makes solar power one of the most reliable sources during an outage or other emergency.
When combined with net metering systems, solar users can share some of the energy with others through the grid.
However, if you live a significant distance from the grid or your area experiences a lot of blackouts, you may benefit more by opting for a solar battery pack. Also known as portable power stations, they store excess energy from solar panels for later use.
These are lightweight batteries with portable designs, so they are easy to carry outdoors during camping or off-grid journeys. They charge very quickly and support multiple outputs, so you can use them to power some appliances and devices during a blackout.
Some battery packs feature input options from solar panels and wall outlets for maximum convenience.
Solar battery packs are an ideal solution if utility providers don’t offer reasonable rates for the energy you send to the grid. They may charge higher rates for energy used and offer lower rates for the energy you supply. We suggest going for a battery pack if you can’t find a utility provider offering fair rates.
2) Grid Resilience
Solar panels with net metering systems help consumers reduce their reliance on the local grid. When more consumers adopt solar power, demand for grid energy reduces, easing the pressure on the grid to fulfill increasing energy demands. The lesser the demand, the more resilient the grid becomes.
How Do You Get Started with Net Metering?
Are you convinced about installing a net metering system? Here are the steps to remember for a smooth and successful setup:
A. Finding a Qualified Solar Installer
A qualified solar installer will help you install a solar and net metering system that suits your energy consumption needs. All will comply with relevant regulations and standards.
In states where net metering is available, the installer may even handle all the necessary paperwork.
B. Application and Approval Process
Post-installation, you must submit a net metering application to your utility provider. It must contain all the details of your solar panel system.
Upon receiving your application, the utility provider will review it and, if accepted, proceed with the inspection.
C. Inspection and Interconnection Process
The utility provider will schedule an inspection for your solar panels. The inspection’s purpose is to confirm whether your net metering system complies with all the required standards.
Once your installation is approved, your utility provider proceeds with the interconnection process. It involves connecting your solar panel system to the grid so that you can send excess energy back.
The next and final step in the setup process involves signing the net metering contract. This agreement outlines the terms of your net metering program, including credit calculation breakdown, billing details, etc.
While implementing net metering seems like a long process, you’ll get support from your installer and utility provider, so there’s no need to worry.
Net metering can result in lots of savings on your monthly utility bills. It can also help you capitalize on your solar panel’s energy output. You can offset the investment costs of your solar system installation faster while reducing your carbon footprint.
A solar battery pack will also bring you the same benefits but require you to invest more. A smaller portable battery pack costs around $429.