What is a grid tied solar system?


In recent years, there has been a growing interest in renewable energy sources as the world seeks to reduce its carbon footprint and combat climate change. One of the most popular and effective solutions is the grid-tied solar system. Harnessing the power of the sun, this innovative technology allows homeowners and businesses to generate their electricity while remaining connected to the traditional power grid. In this blog post, we will explore the structure and benefits of a grid-tied solar system and how it can pave the way towards a more sustainable future.

What is a grid tied solar system?

A grid-tied solar system is a solar energy system that is connected to the electrical power grid. It allows solar energy to be used as an alternative source of electricity, offsetting the user’s dependency on fossil fuel generated electricity from the utility company. A grid-tied solar system is comprised of components such as photovoltaic (PV) panels, an inverter, and a utility meter that measure energy production. Together these components use sunlight to produce electricity.

grid tied solar

Grid-tied systems provide many benefits, including environmental protection, cost savings, and energy stability. They are an ideal choice for homeowners who want to reduce their electricity costs over the long term.

Components of a grid-tied solar system

A grid-tied solar system consists of four main components: photovoltaic (PV) panels, a microinverter or string inverter, an energy meter, and the utility grid.

1. Solar Panels: The solar panels are the most important component of a grid tied solar system. They capture and convert the sun’s energy into electricity.

2. Inverter: The microinverter or string inverter is responsible for converting the Direct Current (DC) electricity produced by the PV panels into Alternating Current (AC), which is suitable for use in homes and businesses.

3. Energy Meter: This component measures how much energy the system produces, tracking it in real-time and informing homeowners of their daily, weekly, and monthly consumption rates.

4. Utility Grid: The utility grid is the connection between the solar system and traditional power sources. It allows excess energy produced by the solar system to be sold back to the utility company for a credit toward future electricity bills.

Excess electricity output

In most of Europe and North America, excess power is fed into the electrical power grid. When solar power is generated in excess of what is used on-site or stored in batteries, the owner earns credits from their local electric utility. These credits can then be used to lower the user’s electric bills or even result in a net-zero electricity bill. Moreover, with a grid-tied system, users can access incentives such as tax credits, making the investment more affordable. Regardless of how many solar panels you have, at some point in the day, month, or year you will have excess electricity output.  This is not possible in South Africa at this moment in time. 

What is a grid tied inverter?

Grid tied inverters are an integral part of a grid-tied solar system. They convert the DC power produced by the solar panels into AC power, which can be used to power household appliances or be fed into the electrical power grid. Grid tied inverters are usually installed along with other components of the system that allow for monitoring and controlling energy production levels.

The inverter will also shut down when there is an outage on the utility grid to protect others from electrocution hazards. Additionally, it may also provide surge protection for sensitive electronic equipment in case of high voltage surges from the utility grid.

What are the advantages of a grid tied solar system?

The advantages of grid tied systems are numerous, particularly when compared to traditional off-grid solar systems. This type of system is reliable and more efficient since it connects to the larger power grid that can provide electricity on cloudy days or at night. Additionally, a grid-tied solar system requires less maintenance than an off-grid system since most of its components are not exposed to weather and last longer. Finally, they offer customers more control over their energy consumption while also providing them with peace of mind that they will always have access to electricity, even during power outages.

The bottom line is that a grid tied solar system is an effective way to save money on electric bills and reduce your impact on the environment by using renewable energy sources instead of traditional energy sources. The cost savings and environmental protection make them worth considering for anyone looking to invest in green energy solutions.

Additionally, with incentives such as tax credits available, it has become even more accessible to install a grid-tied system.

How a Grid-Tied Solar System Works

Solar panel installation: Roof-mounted vs. ground-mounted systems

Both have advantages and disadvantages that should be weighed carefully before making a decision. Roof-mounted panels are typically less expensive since they do not require additional mounting structures, which can lower installation costs significantly On the other hand, ground-mounted systems offer more flexibility due to their adjustable tilt feature, well as better access for maintenance repair work.

Once the type of system is decided upon, it’s to install the actual solar panels themselves. Professional installation is recommended in order to ensure proper functioning and safety measures are taken throughout the process. This also allows for accurate measurements of energy output once everything is in.

Converting DC Solar energy to AC for the home

The next step is to install a grid-tied inverter as well as other essential components such as wiring, monitoring equipment, and surge protection devices. These components will all be connected to the solar panels and electrical power grid. The inverter then takes the DC electricity produced by the solar panels and converts it into AC electricity which is then used to power your home or fed back into the grid.

Finally, it’s important to have a monitoring system in place that can track and analyze energy production levels and usage patterns. This will help you understand how efficiently your system is working and identify any potential problems before they become too costly or severe. Most modern inverters include this functionality. So they can tell you how much grid electricity you are using vs your solar / battery energy.

How does the system manage the electric sources?

The inverter in a grid-tied solar system plays a crucial role in managing the flow of electricity between different sources: solar panels, battery storage (if present), and the grid.

The inverter’s role is to optimize the utilization of solar power, battery power, and grid power based on real-time monitoring and control. It ensures a smooth and efficient transition between different power sources, prioritizing self-consumption of solar energy, maximizing energy independence, and minimizing reliance on grid power.

Solar Power Generation:

  • During daylight hours, solar panels generate electricity from sunlight.
  • The inverter continuously monitors solar power production.
  • If the solar power generated is more than the immediate electricity demand of the premises, the excess electricity is prioritized for storage in the battery (if available) or exported to the grid.
  • If the solar power generation is less than the electricity demand, the inverter automatically supplements the shortfall by drawing power from the battery or the grid.

Battery Power Utilization:

  • If the grid-tied solar system is equipped with battery storage, the inverter monitors the battery’s state of charge (SOC).
  • When the electricity demand exceeds the solar power generation, and there is sufficient energy stored in the battery, the inverter utilizes the stored power to meet the shortfall.
  • The inverter ensures that the battery is not drained beyond a specified threshold to maintain its longevity and to have backup power available for emergencies or during non-solar hours.

Grid Power Interaction:

  • In a grid-tied solar system, the connection to the power grid serves as a backup and additional energy source.  
  • If the electricity demand exceeds the combined power generated by solar panels and available battery storage, the inverter seamlessly switches to draw power from the grid to meet the shortfall.
  • Solar panel prices can be significant for large energy users, and a homeowner might choose to limit the number of panels used.
  • Conversely, when the solar panels generate more electricity than is being consumed, and the battery is fully charged, the excess power is fed back into the grid, often through a process known as net metering. In this case, the inverter adjusts the flow of power to facilitate this export.

Grid-Tied Solar System Maintenance

A grid-tied system using solar power requires regular maintenance and upkeep in order to ensure that they continue performing optimally.

Maintenance mainly includes checking the wiring and connections, making sure that all the components are securely installed and correctly oriented, cleaning the panel surfaces of dirt and debris, and ensuring that the inverter is working properly.

Regular maintenance can help extend the life of a grid-tied system by preventing damage from occurring in the first place.

Additionally, it’s important for homeowners with grid-tied systems to stay informed about local laws related to solar energy systems and any changes that may be enacted in their area which could affect their system.


Grid-tied solar systems are an efficient way to generate clean, renewable energy and reduce electricity costs. These systems can provide reliable energy with minimal maintenance requirements and the added benefit of supporting the local power grid by providing excess power when needed.