How to Put the Power Back Into a Grid


If you have purchased and set up a grid-connected renewable energy system such as photovoltaic solar cells or a windmill, some states will actually pay you for returning energy back into the main power grid in the form of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). States that participate in this program have to allocate a certain percentage of their power production to clean, renewable energy or else pay fines. One way to fulfill this requirement is to purchase it from individuals. Putting power back into the grid from your renewable energy system requires some additional equipment and procedures.

Things You'll Need

  • Photovoltaic solar cells and/or windmill
  • Power conditioning equipment (such as an inverter)
  • Automatic safety disconnects
  • Manual safety disconnects
  • Grounding equipment
  • Surge protection equipment
  • One or two meters
  • Generate off-grid electric power. This typically comes from photovoltaic solar cells and windmills. The electricity from these generators will then be sent to an inverter.

  • Ask your electrician to set up an inverter to safely condition your power for returning it to the grid. An inverter converts DC to AC and synchronizes the 60 cycle waveform to the grid.

  • Have your electrician install automatic and manual safety disconnects so that you can shut off the power in case of an overload.

  • Advise your electrician to ground your power system in case there is a power surge from a lightning strike or other overload. This is an easy pathway for the electricity to flow safely into the ground.

  • Set up surge protectors at every outlet for all your computer equipment, TVs and appliances.

  • Ask your electrician to install an energy meter to keep track of how much energy you have used and how much you are putting back into the grid. If your state doesn't pay for energy returned to the grid, you may be required to install two energy meters to keep track of usage.

Tips & Warnings

  • Hire a qualified electrician who specializes in grid-connected renewable energy systems to set up your power systems.

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