HOW SOLAR WORKS 101

Grid-Tied Solar Energy System:

A grid-tied system is the most common type of solar energy system installed in the United States today. A grid-tied solar energy system does not require batteries and has the capability of running your electrical meter backwards, sending power back to your utility company. You can offset any percentage of your home’s electrical consumption with a grid-tied system. A home that offset’s 100% of its energy from a grid-tied solar system is called a ‘net-zero’ energy home, or a home that generates 100% of the energy it uses. Morton Solar is an expert in design & build of net-zero energy homes and buildings. We designed and installed the solar energy systems for the first net-zero school in the U.S. and the first net-zero library in the U.S. We also have numerous net-zero homes in our portfolio, which are located right here in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky.

o Pros: No batteries required, no maintenance required, solar panels generate maximum possible energy from available sunlight, no moving parts.

o Cons: Grid-Tied solar energy systems are required to Shut Down during emergency power outages for safety purposes.

 

Grid-Interactive Solar Energy System (Grid-Tied with Battery Backup):

A grid-interactive solar energy system has the best of both worlds. It is grid-tied when the power grid is available, meaning it can run your meter backwards. And, when the grid power is not available, it can provide power to the “critical loads” in your home much like an emergency backup generator. However, the difference from a generator is that your fuel is FREE! These systems are generally designed to operate your lower wattage critical loads, which would normally be things like your television, radio, sump pumps, furnace blowers, security systems, etc. Larger systems can be designed to operate the whole house.


o Pros:Best of both worlds, your solar panels will continue to operate in power outages, these systems are generally designed to operate “critical loads”.

o Cons: The amount of power available during nighttime hours will be limited to battery capacity, batteries generally require some maintenance.

 

Off-Grid Solar Energy System:

This type of system operates independently of the utility grid. With this type of system, you generally have power available as long as your batteries have stored energy available. Designing an off-grid solar energy system involves consideration of all aspects of the home’s energy use including what type of heating, cooling, insulation, appliances, etc. If living off the grid is desired, generally an alternate fuel source such as propane or natural gas is recommended. Large heat load appliances such as water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, and cooking ranges should be converted to propane. A propane backup generator would also be part of the system.

o Pros: Utility Grid is not required, can be very cost effective in remote locations

o Cons: Batteries require some maintenance, batteries might need to be replaced in 8-10 years