Read More

How Does an On Grid Solar System Work?

Thanks to increasing awareness about protecting the climate of the only planet we can afford to live in, and an urge to cut down on those annoying electricity bills we keep getting every day, the popularity of clean renewable energy sources has risen explosively in recent times.

The most popular – and accessible – form of renewable energy at household level is solar energy. While most people usually use solar power to supplement their existing energy setup, or to run their homes completely off of the utility grid.

However, on-grid solar systems have gained traction recently as they not only allow homes to be self-sustainable off-grid, but also allow them to ‘sell’ the extra electricity they manage to generate with their solar system. 

There’s no denying the advantages of grid-connected solar systems. In the first place, these setups offer a cheap method for cutting down on monthly electricity costs. Users can significantly reduce their reliance on conventional fossil fuel-based power sources by producing clean and renewable energy from the sun. Because the price of electricity is expected to rise, this will result in significant savings over time.

Solar energy systems that connect to the grid are also a green alternative to traditional electricity generation and use. Users who switch to solar energy have a much smaller carbon footprint, which helps the global fight against climate change. The widespread adoption of on-grid solar systems has reduced emissions of greenhouse gasses and improved the planet’s long-term viability.

Understanding On-Grid Solar Systems

On-grid solar systems make it possible to generate electricity from solar panels while still being connected to the local utility grid.

The benefits of this setup are obvious: this two-way connection not only allows for the generation and consumption of solar energy, but also the ‘export’ of any excess electricity. In other words, by committing extra resources, you can not only produce clean solar energy for your own use, but can also ‘sell’ that energy to the power grid (who’ll redistribute it to other consumers) and get paid for it. Period.

Due to the complexities and technicalities involved in the power distribution, a system known as ‘Net metering’ is utilized to oversee the complicated system of electricity transfer and distribution over to the grid.

Net metering ensures accurate measurement and fair accounting for the system’s three primary components: solar panels, an inverter, and a grid connection. In order to fully appreciate the functionality and advantages of on-grid solar systems, it is essential to have a firm grasp on these components and net metering.

The Working Principle of On-Grid Solar Systems

On-grid solar systems function just like the off-grid ones: solar panels in an on-grid system collect energy from the sun, which is then converted by inverters from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) for home use. The inverter keeps the system’s AC output in sync with the grid, allowing for trouble-free connection and use.

Distribution of power is where on-grid systems differ from their off-grid cousins. Surplus electricity produced by on-grid systems is sent over to the nearest power grid. A bi-directional meter ensures that any power sent to the utility grid is accurately accounted for and compensated for.

Net Metering

When solar panels are connected to the local power grid, a mechanism called “net metering” is used to keep track of how much energy is generated and how much is used.

Net metering relies on a ‘bi-directional meter’, which tracks the two-way flow of electricity between a home or business and the utility grid. To ensure a transparent and equitable billing system, net metering keeps track of both the solar energy system’s output and the grid energy used.

Net metering measures the difference, or the “net,” between the electricity produced and the electricity consumed. When the solar system generates more electricity than is being consumed locally, the excess electricity is fed back into the grid, effectively “spinning” the meter backwards. This surplus electricity is credited to the customer’s account.

When the solar system isn’t producing enough energy, the building will draw power from the grid, which will cause the meter to run forward. The net amount that determines the customer’s bill is the difference between the electricity imported and the credited excess electricity exported.

Because it offers financial incentives, net metering promotes the use of renewable energy sources. This encourages people to not just go green themselves, but also contribute towards overall ‘greenification’ of energy sources throughout the world.

In on-grid solar systems, net metering plays a crucial role by facilitating equitable electricity production and consumption tracking and billing. This system fully automates the power distribution aspect of a solar system, and increases efficiency by taking human error out of the equation.

Grid Interaction and Backup

The Sun doesn’t always cooperate with solar power systems, and there are periods (such as cloudy days, or peak winter days) when there is little to no sunlight available for solar panels to generate electricity from.

For such times of low solar generation, an on-grid solar system can rely on the utility grid for backup power. When solar power generation is insufficient, they automatically switch to grid electricity. The grid connection point allows the system to communicate with the grid and import or export power as needed.

Benefits and Drawbacks of On-Grid Solar Systems

The increasing demand for on-grid solar systems can be attributed to their many advantages. However, there are some drawbacks to using them that consumers should be aware of. Let’s look at the pros and cons of using solar panels that are connected to the power grid.

Advantages of On-Grid Solar Systems:

1. Cost Savings: On-grid solar system owners can drastically cut their monthly energy costs by producing their own electricity. Through net metering, you can also receive financial compensation for the electricity surplus you send back to the grid.

2. Environmental Sustainability: By relying on the clean and renewable energy emitted from the Sun, on-grid solar systems lessen the need for fossil fuels and the associated emissions. These systems help create a more environmentally friendly and sustainable future by producing electricity without emitting greenhouse gases.

3. Grid Connection: At night or on overcast days, when solar generation is low, consumers can still draw power from the grid. There will no longer be any need to worry about power outages due to this.

4. Net Metering Incentives: With net metering, both the power generated and used can be accurately measured and compensated for. By paying power generators for excess electricity exported to the grid, it incentivizes the use of renewable energy sources financially.

Drawbacks of On-Grid Solar Systems:

1. Grid Dependency: During times of low solar generation, on-grid solar systems must draw power from the utility grid. When the grid is down, like during a blackout, they do not provide power. Because of this restriction, those who own systems that rely on the grid are still susceptible to outages and disruptions in the power supply.

2. Regulatory Limitations: Local regulations and utility policies determine the specific benefits and incentives available for on-grid solar systems, such as net metering. While most parts of the world incentivize on-grid solar generation, there are regions which might hinder such practices through stiff regulations.

Despite these limitations, on-grid solar systems continue to be favored due to their low initial investment, positive effects on the environment, and the reliability of their power output. The disadvantages can be reduced by using battery storage systems or by looking into alternate options like hybrid solar power systems.


On-grid solar systems provide a lucrative business opportunity to homeowners who are willing to invest in a larger solar apparatus that generates electricity beyond their needs. These systems will improve in efficiency and cost-effectiveness as renewable energy technologies mature. To hasten the shift to a greener energy landscape and ensure a sustainable future, governments, businesses, and individuals must invest in on-grid solar.

These power generation and distribution systems have emerged as a prominent solution in the quest for sustainable and renewable energy sources. By harnessing the power of the sun, these systems convert sunlight into electricity and provide a range of benefits.


1. What is the difference between off grid and on grid solar system?

Off grid systems are those where a household generates all of their electrical power themselves, and cut themselves off from the utility grid. Whereas, On grid systems on the hand, not only generate power for their own needs, but also sell the surplus electricity to the power grid for money.