If you’re new to solar energy, you may be skeptical when hearing that excess solar power produced by your solar panels can spin your electricity meter backwards. After all, didn’t Ferris Bueller humorously fail to turn back the odometer on the vintage Ferrari owned by the father of his best friend despite his attempt to run the car in reverse?
The fact is, in an age where digital meters are predominant, the process of “spinning the meter backward” is more of a figurative term to help consumers better understand the process. Excess power produced by your solar system is pushed back to the electric grid for a credit, lowering the amount you pay the utility company. That process is called net metering.
If you look at a digital meter set up for net metering, you will see an arrow pointing to the left when excess power is being sent back to the grid. That cumulative number is tallied on screen. Meanwhile, if your home is using more power than your solar system can produce at any one time, your arrow will point to the right, indicating you are drawing power from the grid and are billed accordingly.
Net metering isn’t offered by every utility company, so be sure to check with your local provider to see if it’s offered. POWERHOME SOLAR National Trainer Paul Gryniuk explains the ins and outs of net metering for you.
Pros and cons of net metering
While the energy that your solar panels produce is used first for your home’s needs, your connectivity to the grid means that you still have a reliable power source either when you’re using more power than what your system is producing at any one time, or when your system is not producing energy at all in night hours.
There are a couple of drawbacks with net metering. The first – if your solar system does not include a battery, it loses the capacity to produce power during power outages. Even though there is no off switch on the sun, your system shuts down for safety reasons, because utility workers sent to repair broken lines would otherwise be subject to danger in handling lines with electricity still coursing through them.
The second con with net metering – many utility companies have an annual true-up process, as Gryniuk describes in his video. If you have any excess credits in the month of the true-up, those are zeroed out of your account. We don’t expect that number to be very large, but you do have the potential to lose some of those credits.
The overwhelming positive of net metering over a calendar year is that you can benefit from most if not all of the power that your system produces, directly from your panels, or indirectly through credits applied to your much smaller electric bill. When going solar potentially saves you money on top of being good for the environment, it is a win all around. And as Gryniuk recommends, we do believe adding a battery to your solar system is a wise addition, even with net metering. It takes care of many of the what-ifs in adding solar.
Please feel free to fill out the form below or contact POWERHOME SOLAR at 1-800-POWER-90, and one of our solar representatives will help you determine whether your home qualifies for this program.