There are a number of initial reactions most people have when it comes to making the decision to switching to a renewable energy system in providing your daily electrical power needs. Some people decide to go off-grid so they can permanently rid themselves of the ever increasing costs associated with their monthly electric utility bills while others choose to remain grid-tied just in case they need the extra power. While making the move to an off-grid configuration will in fact eliminate that monthly electric bill from your electric utility company this is something that can only be achieved in certain scenarios. Grid-tie configurations do have their advantages however and the largest of these is the reduced time in which it will take to realize your return on investment.
Off-grid systems are typically employed in situations where the property to be powered by these systems is in a rural or agricultural location where there is plenty of acreage to erect a series of solar panel matrices or a medium to large wind turbine generator system. They also require the use of a battery backup system capable of retaining enough power to support all of your electrical needs for at least 3 days so that in the event you do not receive enough sunlight or wind you will still have enough power in reserve to make it through these brief intervals. Those choosing this particular configuration must also plan on using electrically efficient appliances and lighting systems so that the power you are actually using can be optimized to give you the most use from the lowest possible amount of electrical power. A high level of deliberate energy conservation is always imperative so that you are completely conscious of how everything you power affects your energy generation and stored power reserves.
Grid-tie systems do have some restrictions that are primarily the available space in which you have to erect such systems and cannot always allow for a complete replacement of any grid provided power due to building codes or ordinances in your community. Knowing what your particular community has in place in this regard is crucial in the planning stages of your renewable energy system projects. Failing any ordinance restrictions there are several advantages in maintaining a grid-tie configuration. The first and most impressive of these is the fact that when your renewable energy system is generating more power than your home or business can use the excess energy is placed onto the electrical grid through the use of a Net Meter. Net Meters will actually spin backwards when this occurs and as you may have guessed this will track the number of kWh (kilowatt hours) of power you have supplied to your electric utilities grid which is banked in the form of energy credits with your utility.
For renewable energy systems such as photovoltaic solar electric you will only be generating power during the daylight hours and in the evenings you will be using the energy credits which were generated through net metering and any additional credits that remain are then paid out to you at a specified rate by your electric utility. However, there are still many electric utilities nationwide which do not offer this type or any type of power buy-back programs and if this is a problem for you in your locale then we strongly suggest filing a complaint with your states public utilities commission or department of energy or both. Given the federal mandates that were issued in 2007 by president Bush, you will find that your department of energy will offer you a willing platform from which to voice your opinions on this topic which will result in changes that will benefit your use of these systems. Providing that you are capable of receiving payment for power your system generates to the grid this can equate to an increased value of the system which will offset its costs in the form of a reduced ROI (return on investment) time period and eventually a source of revenue once your system has paid for itself.