Solar PV & Renewable Energy prices

Solar PV System guide: Grid-Tied systems

Any homeowner seriously considering switching to clean solar energy needs to understand that there are three different types of solar systems that can be installed on your home. Solar systems can be 1. Connected to the grid/grid-tied; 2. Function independently off-the-grid; 3. Hybrid systems. Each one has its benefits and draw-backs and comes with a different price tag. Learn more about each type of solar system to determine which one would be best suitable for your budget, electricity needs and lifestyle. When choosing one of the three systems it is important to keep in mind that there are many factors that will affect which system is right for you, and its highly advisable to consult a  professional solar installer before making your final decision.

Connected to the grid / Grid-tied systems

A solar system that is tied to the grid is a popular choice for the majority of homeowners because it provides a number of advantages that most people find highly desirable. The first benefit is financial. Having your system tied to the grid enables you to use net-metering/feed-in tariffs, which allow you to put access electricity back into the grid, thereby saving you money both in the short and long run. In the short run, it lowers your monthly electric bills and in the long run, you can actually make money by selling the access solar power that your system produces back to your utility company.  The second benefit is security of always having electricity regardless of the weather conditions outside. If your system is connected to the grid, you do not need to rely solely on the power stored in your battery. The energy that can be stored in the battery is limited and especially if you live in areas that do not get a lot of sun, or have many cloudy days, it is safer to be connected to grid.

The main disadvantage of being tied to the grid is that you still remain to a certain extent dependant on the grid, which essentially means relying on fossil fuel generated power. For many people who are die-hard environmentalists and want nothing to do with polluting sources of energy, this is not an acceptable set-up. As a result, they are willing to sacrifice financial benefits and security of always having electricity and choose to rely solely on the solar system that functions as a stand-alone unit, independent from the grid.


A grid-tied solar system comes with a number of different components necessary for proper functioning. These are:

1. PV – Array Disconnect.
2. Grid-Tie Inverter / Micro-Inverter.
3. Breaker Box.
4. Power Meter. 

The PV-array disconnect is a shut-off switch used to switch on or off the flow of power from the solar panels. It makes it possible to separate solar panels during the time of maintenance, troubleshooting and repair. Prices for a PV-array disconnect range from around $100-$900.

The grid-tie Inverter is used to convert the direct current (DC), which is generated by the solar panels into the alternating current (AC) used by the electric grid. You have the option of getting a micro-inverter, which is smaller than a traditional inverter and can be installed on the solar panel itself. While a micro-inverter costs more money, it makes the system more efficient and more resistant to shading. Inverters can be quite expensive, ranging from $1,500-5,000+

The breaker box is the second switch in the system. This is the point from which the electrical current is distributed from the solar panels or the grid to the electrical appliances in your home. The breaker box costs between $12-$36

The power meter is a two-way meter that tells you whether you are selling excess power to the grid or purchasing power from the grid.

Next: Part 2 –

Levchik (Leo) is a renewable energy activist from Boston, MA, and has been involved with alternative energy and green construction since 2004.

In 2009, Leo and his green roofing company ( sponsored Boston’s Solar Decathlon Team, providing materials and installation labor to install a cool white roof on the top of Curio home (Joint effort by Tufts University and Boston Architecture College) – more info about the project here.

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Written by Levchik B

Posted on July 3rd, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Posted in Solar Installation

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