How to Connect Solar Power to Your Home Electricity
It seems like science and technology offer new solar solutions almost daily. What used to be prohibitively expensive and not available in all areas is now becoming a common ingredient in new homes and renovation projects and providing abundant options for off-grid living.
Similarly, small systems that used to just power the electric gate at the end of the driveway or the lights on the barn can now make a home completely electrically self-sufficient. Plus, now there is a process known as net metering where you can provide power to your home along with excess power that you can sell back to the grid.
Depending on the building, a hybrid that connects solar power to your existing electrical service might be just the combination you need to benefit from solar without going completely off-grid. Regardless of the end goal, once you’ve decided to go solar, you can use the pointers below to get that system set up DIY style.
Step 1 - Check with the Power Company
Even within your area, power companies may have different policies regarding the use of solar panels and metering your power consumption on and off the grid. Make sure you can have the system you have in mind by talking with your local power supplier.
Step 2 - Install the Panels
The process starts with placing the solar panels that will gather electricity from the sun. Scout out your property and watch the sun throughout the seasons to identify the best location for your panels.
You may want to rely on the professionals for the installation part of the project since it could involve placing 20 or more panels on the roof of your home. Alternatively, you can benefit from a kit that lays out the supplies and the process for you.
Smaller jobs might simply mean having a large solar panel facing the sun some distance away from the cabin. This type of system won’t require balancing on the roof while you work.
Step 3 - Install the Battery System
The batteries will store and transfer the power from your solar panels to your home. This is important if you rely solely on solar power, so you will have stored power on stormy days or at night after the sun goes down. You may choose to skip this step if you are merely supplementing your existing power supply or plan to let the excess power run directly onto the local power grid.
Step 4 - Set up the Flow
You’ll need an inverter to convert Direct Current power (DC) Alternating Current power (AC) as it travels from the solar panels into the home. Connect the solar panels to the inverter to do this task.
Step 5 - Loop in the Batteries
Depending on your system, you’ll either connect directly to the power inverter and then into the home system or connect solar panels to the inverter, the batteries, and the home system. If using them, the next step is to connect the battery to both the inverter and the circuit breaker. The system will then send DC from the panels to the inverter, and, at the other end, the circuit breaker will prevent any overloads to the system before electricity enters the house.
Step 6 - Connect Current from Inverter to the AC Fuse Box
Once the energy is converted from DC to AC, your home will accept it as a usable energy option. This will allow you to power up everything from the outlets to appliances.
Step 7 - Hook up to the Meters
Depending on the arrangement with your electrical provider, you may be able to connect the power to your meter, or they may need to take over that portion. Some electrical companies provide a single meter to monitor the electricity you produce and send to the grid, along with the electricity you pull off the grid when you run short from your own solar energy production.
Other power companies have two separate meters to measure the separate flows of energy in and out of your home. Either way, you’ll need to connect the power to the meters to reap those benefits.