Net metering is the foundation for the on-grid solar system. It allows feeding the surplus electricity generated from the solar system back to the electricity grid for later use. Net metering uses the electric grid to store the energy produced by the solar panel system and use it later. It helps one to reduce their electricity bills and save more.
How net metering works
When the solar panels produce more electricity than consumption, the electric meter runs in reverse. It sends the electricity back to the grid. When the consumption is more than production, the electric meter runs forward.
In an on-grid solar system, a bi-directional meter records the inflow of electricity from the grid to the house and the outflow of electricity from the house to the grid. This digital meter runs in both directions to accommodate electricity generated. The electricity bill will be a net of inflow and outflow electricity.
Solar panel production varies according to season. Panels produce more in summer. In the winter season, energy produced by the system is much lesser. Net metering accounts for it by credit for the excess electricity sent to the grid. It also allows to use it later during times of adversity.
Net-metering functions like a virtual battery
The consumers can avail themselves of power without a storage system even at times when the panels are not producing. The off-grid solar system is the one where the system is not connected to the power grid. Solar panels produce power and it is used by the clients. The connection with the utility company is severed.
The solar system produces electricity only when the sun is shining. There is no access to extra electricity even at times of need. What is produced and what is stored is all that’s there to power the equipment. This makes solar batteries mandatory to stay powered at night.
An off-grid solar system can go for virtual net metering. It is less similar to net metering from a customer’s point of view.
Sell excess solar energy to the utility company
Community solar farm produces energy. It allows people to receive clean energy and make electricity bill savings. It is similar to the ones produced from their own roofs.
Virtual net metering makes customer savings happen. It pays back the investors too. Net metering is an agreement between a consumer who installs a solar system and the Electricity Distribution Company. It allows the solar PV system owner to sell excess solar energy to the utility company.
It also allows them to buy deficit energy from the utility company using a meter to track this energy exchange. The off-grid solar power system is not connected to the power grid. It has no access to net metering in the normal course.
An option to do so is to replace the off-grid inverter with an on-grid inverter. For both off-grid and on-grid functions, a hybrid solar inverter would be the best choice.
Inverter for off-grid solar
For an on-grid inverter, the micro-controller inside synchronizes the generated power to the utility grid. An off-grid inverter is not designed to sync the generated power to the grid. It will get damaged when connected to the grid lines.
On-grid inverters can be used for off-grid applications. It is possible by developing a microgrid, with a generator as a primary backup and a solar inverter as a renewable source. Hooking on-grid inverters directly with generators can damage it due to reverse power.
Net metering makes renewable energy more economical and accessible to all. Its main advantage is that the surplus energy earns revenue while the shortage of energy is covered by the grid.