“How do solar panels connect to the main electrical grid?”
Residential solar panels are one of the hottest technologies on the market right now, with a 119% growth rate in the United States alone! However, this most innovative work of machinery comes with one contention. Solar cells will produce DC electricity, while the national grid is structured by AC electricity. Not only that, but solar panels may not be able to power the entirety of your residential unit, especially during power fluctuations. So how can we integrate this technology to achieve technological feasibility? Well, instead of just giving up, let’s be proactive and use our engineering mindsets to solve this problem. Fundamentally, we need some sort of component that can take in DC electricity and convert it into AC electricity. Well, thanks to the hard work of many researchers, a device known as a grid-tied inverter has been produced for this need. Grid-tied inverters will take the direct current electricity generated and convert it into alternating current electricity in sync with the surrounding grid. This technology is not only environmentally but economically green since any excess electricity generated will be sent over the grid, in which the local electric company will be obligated to remunerate you for the electricity being generated. Furthermore, if your housing unit is in need of electricity, then it will be able to siphon energy from the larger grid to complete your needs. There is one drawback to grid-tied inverters however. Due to the connected nature of the technology, when there is a grid blackout, and no micro-grid is present, your solar cells will be shut down as well, impeding a true self-sustaining system.