I have been in the solar industry since 2015 and I have installed numerous solar power plants, both rooftop and utility-scale. And found that has more and more people are showing interest in solar panels. Their questions about solar panels rise too. I had answered lots of good question about solar panels throughout these years and some of the questions are really tough to answers than most of the questions.
Here I am going to answer another good question about solar panels that is “Do solar panels need electricity to work?”
Solar panels can produce electricity without any external electricity, but the electricity production by solar panels is DC (direct current) in nature and home appliance required AC (Alternate Current) power to operate. Hence to convert DC power into AC power you will require a solar inverter. There are three types of solar inverters available that is On-Grid, Off-Grid and Hybrid. Among these three types of solar inverters, only On-grid solar inverters require reference electricity (like grid power) to convert DC power generated by solar panels into AC power.
This answer may raise another question “Why does On-grid inverter need electricity to work”
Solar energy is available for 5 to 8 hours only but our requirement for electricity is for 24 Hours. To use solar power for 24 hours of requirement we need to have a solar power plant big enough that to produce excess power than our day time requirement and a way to store this excess power for night usage.
To store this excess power, batteries could be an option but storing electricity in batteries is still expensive and the reliability of solar energy is completely weather dependent which leads us to blackout for certain days of the years.
To overcome these issues, string inverters (also called on-grid or grid-tied inverters) have been developed, which converter DC (direct current) power generated by solar panels into AC (Alternate Current) power in synchronization with grid power.
A benefit of synchronization of solar power with the grid is that if we generate power excess than our day time requirement then this excess power can be reverse feedback to the grid. In simple words, excess power of solar power plant will be exported to the grid.
And this exported power will be subtracted from the power you will use at night. Hence your gird will become a huge battery for you and you don’t even need to pay for it.
When the sun goes down, a gird-tied solar power plant becomes unable to produce electricity. Hence we need to use the power from the grid and the amount of power we use at night will be compensated by the power we injected into the grid during day time.
Now, to subtract the power exported to the grid from the power imported from the grid, you will require “Net-metering”.
If the net-metering is not available in your state and you are looking for a battery-less on-grid solar power plant. I highly recommend you to read our blog on “Solar without net-metering”.
What will happen to an on-grid solar power plant during a power outage?
During a power outage, on-gird solar power plants stop producing electricity. Because the string inverters also know as gird-tied (or o-gird) solar inverter required a reference power source to generate power in synchronization. But you can use a generator as a reference power source to operate your on-grid solar power plant even in a power outage with the help of ZED Advance.
Above diagram shows, the connection of the grid-tied solar power plant with the generator and ZED Advance.
Curious about ZED advance, please read our blog on “how to use grid-tied solar power plant during a power outage”
Now there is only one last question left to answer “What are the benefits of an On-grid solar power plant?”.
1 kW of solar power plant generates 4 to 5 units of power average over the year. So, if you have 1kW of solar power plant it will reduce your electricity bill by 120 to 150 units in a month. There are other benefits of On-grid solar power too and I have listed most of the benefits below.
On-grid solar power plant reduces electricity bills.
Solar panels cool your home by providing extra insulation over the rooftop
The on-grid solar power plant is battery-free, hence the maintenance cost is very low.
The on-grid solar power plant will reduce your carbon footprint.