Over the past week Sacramento has been hit with record amounts of rain. During storms like these it's common to question whether or not your solar panels are producing energy, and if they're not producing energy whether or not you're getting charged from the electric company or just receiving power from previous solar power that you produced. As a solar owner it's important to understand how these scenarios work so that you're not surprised when you receive your next electric bill. Before we get into how solar works when it's raining, let's talk about how it works when it's sunny.
As shown in the diagram below, net metering is an essential element of solar production. When the sun beats down on your solar panels, that energy converts sunlight into electricity, which then goes through an inverter that inverts the power from DC (direct current) to AC (alternate current) which your house can use. Now, let's say you and your family aren't home during the day when that power is being produced. This is where the net meter comes into play: any excess power that you don't use immediately will then cause your meter to spin backwards and will go back into the electric grid. And what of that power that you produced? With the fancy net meter you will receive a credit for the amount of power that you don't use and then when you need that energy - let's say in the evening or on a cloudy day - you'll get those credits back when you're not producing any or enough energy with the solar panels.
So now to recap, net metering simply allows you to store excess energy that you don't use during those high producing sunny days. So do you end up using power from the electric company on cloudy days? Well that depends on how much electricity you've overproduced during those sunny days. Sometimes the answer will be yes, and sometimes the answer will be no. This is where it becomes extremely important for you to understand how much energy your system should be producing on an annual basis - whether it's 100% of your total power usage or let's say 60% of your overall usage. If you've been given the expectation that you will receive 100% of your power from the solar panels, you shouldn't be having to use power from your electric company at all. And for those looking to go solar, beware of companies that may oversell you and tell you that your system will produce 100% of your power usage when in fact it may only produce 50%.
For more info on going solar contact us now to see how much electricity your house can produce!