Explaining grid-tied solar installations

Grid-tied systems are solar power configurations that are linked to the electrical grid and function without the use of battery backup tools.

Currently, they are the most prevalent kind of solar panel installation in American houses. And even while battery technology is gaining popularity, the majority of homeowners that go solar today still choose to install a grid-tied setup on their roofs.

Why are grid-tied solar systems so common and how do they function? Are they the proper kind of system for you, which is more important? This article will examine this system type in-depth and assist you in finding the answers to those queries.

A quick reminder: There are various names for this kind of solar panel system, including “on-grid,” “grid-connect(ed),” “grid-intertied,” and “grid-direct.” They all make the same reference.

What is a grid-tied solar system?

Solar power is produced by solar panels in a grid-tied system. When there is excess energy, it is exported to the utility grid; likewise, when a household needs more energy, it imports it from the grid.

How grid-tied solar systems are similar to other systems 

  • Power generation: All photovoltaic (PV) solar power systems generate power by using solar panels to convert sunlight into DC electricity.
  • Panels installed onsite: Wiring is needed to transfer energy between the solar equipment, the house, and the power grid. The solar panels must be mounted on the roof or as a ground mount system in a place with adequate sun exposure.

How grid-tied systems are different from other systems 

  • They use grid-tie inverters: Grid-tie inverters, also referred to as grid-tied inverters, are necessary for grid-tied solar systems. Grid-tie inverters allow residences to export power back to the utility in addition to importing it from the utility.
  • No battery storage: They don’t include any form of energy storage to store solar power. This makes grid-tied solar systems simpler to install, and cheaper.

How much does a grid-tied solar system cost?

Net of the federal solar tax credit, the usual cost of a grid-tied solar system is from $12,600 to $14,000. As of Q1 2022, the national average price per watt for systems was $3.00, with the majority of systems costing between $2.75 and $3.35.

However, depending on a number of variables, like the size of the system, where you live, the type of solar panels you select, and even the pitch of your roof, the cost of a solar system can vary significantly.

We examine how the typical cost of grid-tied solar panels changes by system size in the table below.

System sizeAverage system cost*

I suggest using our sophisticated solar calculator to view a real-time price for a solar panel system specifically designed for your home. It will provide you with all the information you require to put solar panels on your house. Start by providing your information in the fields below.

How grid-tied solar systems work over a year

The seasons also have an impact on the direction of energy transfers between the house and the grid, in addition to the time of day.

The amount of sunshine that strikes the panels varies with the seasons. The two greatest consumers of power in a household, cooling and heating, are affected by weather variations in the same way.

Seasonal variations in the amount of imports and exports in a grid-tied solar system are largely due to variations in the amount of sunlight available and the weather.

Let’s see how this works for a typical house over the course of the year:


Homes with on-grid systems export more power than they import during the summer, when the days are long and the sunshine is abundant. For usage later in the year, most utilities enable households to accumulate these credits.

Spring and Fall

Mild weather reduces the need for heating and cooling in dwellings, resulting in a reduced power consumption. Since grid-tied solar systems also generate a respectable quantity of power at this time of year, electricity imports and exports typically balance each other out.


The lowest solar output occurs in winter since it has the fewest days and the least amount of sunlight. Due to heavy heating use, power consumption is typically relatively high at this time. Over this time, your system will typically import more power than it will export.

Takeaway: Summer exports offset high winter usage

During the summer, a house with grid-tied solar panels will produce a lot of extra solar power. In the winter, when grid imports are higher than solar power exports, the homeowner can carry over these credits and use them.

In other words, the substantial solar generation (and exports) during the summer offset the comparatively substantial imports during the winter. In fact, a residence with grid-tied solar panels may even incur zero net electricity usage expenses for the entire year with a well built system.

What happens to excess solar power production?

Due to the fact that most household members are typically out from the home during the day, energy usage is typically quite low. At this time, solar panel output is also at its highest, so electricity production vastly outpaces energy consumption. Grid-tied systems transfer this surplus power to the utility, earning the homeowner credits on their energy bill.

What happens when the sun goes down?

Additionally, it prevents the house from running out of power. The technology may import electricity from the grid when the solar panels aren’t producing enough of it.

Can grid-tied solar systems use net metering?

Homeowners can use a grid-tied system to profit from net metering because of the system’s two-way connection to the grid. Every watt of extra solar energy that households send back to the grid might result in bill credits when net metering is offered. With these payments, the homeowner is able to significantly lower or perhaps get rid of their utility usage fees.

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