How to Use Excess Power from Solar Panels
Many solar panels are highly efficient, which means they often produce more power than your home or business needs.
Having too much power is not a bad problem to have—it’s certainly better than having the opposite issue of having insufficient power. In many cases, excess power benefits your home or business and your pocketbook.
When it comes to dealing with excess power from your solar panels, you have a few options:
- Send it back to the grid
- Store it in backup batteries
- Shift the electrical load of your home or business
We’ll explain each of these options in more detail below.
Interested in adding solar panels to your home or business? Contact Photon Brothers at 720-370-3344 (Colorado) or 805-351-3371 (California) for a FREE estimate. Our solar engineers can provide you with the best solar panel designs for your needs and budget.
Sending excess power back to the grid
If your home or business is connected to power lines, you likely have the option to send the extra power produced by your panels back to the electric grid. Essentially, this allows you to “store” extra power and then draw it from the utility grid when you need it.
This process of storing excess electrical power in the electric grid is called net metering. Here’s how net metering works:
- During the sunny summer months, your solar panels will likely produce more power than your home or business needs. When this happens, the meter runs in reverse and sends any extra power to the grid. You get credits from your utility company at the end of the month based on the net Kilowatt-hours you supplied to the grid. Depending on your state, net metering credits can be the full retail electricity rate or a lower wholesale rate.
- During the overcast winter season, your solar panels may struggle to provide sufficient power to all of your appliances at once. Since you are connected to the electrical grid, you can draw power using the credits you accumulated during the summer. If your panels produce less electricity than you use in a given month, you’ll need to buy electricity from your utility to make up the difference. When this happens, you’ll pay for the electricity you use, minus any excess electricity your solar panels send back to the grid.
You can contact your local utility company to find out more details about their net metering program.
Storing excess power in backup batteries
Instead of sending all of your excess power to the grid, you can also store extra energy in a solar battery backup system. Solar backup batteries work for both grid-tied and off-grid homes and businesses, which we’ll explain below.
Grid-tied battery backups
Suppose your home or business is connected to the grid. In that case, you can use a hybrid backup battery to power appliances at night, prepare for power outages, or offset the amount of electricity you use from the utility company.
A hybrid system uses a special inverter that alternates between sending power to the grid, your home/business, and your backup battery. The backup battery keeps your home or business powered when the sun isn’t shining or during a power outage.
Off-grid battery backups
Connecting to the grid is usually preferable because it means you can take advantage of net metering opportunities. However, that may not be possible if your home or business is in a remote location.
If you have an off-grid solar panel system, you’ll need a backup battery system to keep your home or business powered at night or during overcast days. Otherwise, you’ll be without power entirely during those times.
Off-grid solar panel systems typically require more extensive battery storage than grid-tied systems because they cannot tap into the grid for support. A solar energy expert can help you calculate which size battery you need for your off-grid home or business.
Shifting the electrical load of your home or business
Let’s say your solar panels regularly produce more power than your batteries can store. In that case, you can alter how you use appliances during the day to maximize the excess energy produced by the panels. This process is called load shifting. We’ll explain how load shifting applies to homes and businesses.
Residential load shifting
Instead of using appliances at night, when your solar panels are not actively producing any power, you can run them during the day when the sun is shining on the panels. The appliances will utilize this energy that would otherwise be wasted.
For example, you could run the following appliances during the day instead of at night:
- Air conditioner (in summer)
- Heating system (in winter)
- Clothes washer and dryer
- Pool pump
In some cases, you can set timers on these appliances to automatically run during the day instead of at night. A solar energy expert can help you create a load shifting plan to take advantage of the excess power produced by your solar panels.
Commercial load shifting
Depending on your business, you may be able to shift your most energy-consuming operations to times when your solar panels are producing maximum power. This reduces energy waste and improves the energy efficiency of your business. You can consult with a solar expert for advice on how to maximize the energy produced by your solar panels.
Want advice from a solar panel expert about how to deal with excess power?
We’re happy to help. Our Colorado- and California-based solar engineers can help you find the best way to deal with the excess power produced by your solar panels.
If you’re interested in adding solar panels to your home or business, we can help with that too. We’ll calculate how many panels you need and how much energy you can expect them to produce. Visit our residential solar panels and commercial solar installation pages for more information about what to expect when you work with Photon Brothers.