All residential solar energy systems connect to the main electrical grid through their utility company. The weather is unpredictable, so you can’t rely on solar energy system as a sole power source. Otherwise on cloudy days or during the winter you wouldn’t be able to get the power you need to run your household.

How Residential Solar Works

There will be times when a house running solar uses more energy than it produces. At those times the household will need to purchase energy from the utility company from the grid. Peak solar energy generates through out the day, when power demand is lowest on the grid and production is highest.  Meanwhile, at night energy stops generating and power demand increases.  

If a system produces more energy than it is using this energy is sent back to the grid. In exchange the customer receives a credit from their utility company, which helps cover their monthly utility bill. This process is referred to as net metering.

While it’s nice to get a credit, utility companies have begun to reduce the credit rate. Customers that add batteries to a system can now store the surplus electricity their system generates. With batteries homeowners are in total control of the energy surplus they are generating. This allows using more of your own power at night (lowering off-peak usage rates) or dispense the excess during “on-peak” hours when rates will increase. 

For SDGE customers rates only increase on weekdays from June through October (from 4pm to 9pm). This accounts for 100 total days in a calendar year that you could use a battery system to sell energy back to the grid (sometimes referred to as “arbitration” or “energy shaving”). The same benefits of adding a battery system to avoid these peak rates can be achieved by adding panels to a system. For the average customer increasing energy production by 5 to 20 percent will help them exceed their annual energy consumption.

Panels or Batteries?

Should you add panels or a battery to your solar energy system? Currently you will save far more by adding panels to your existing system. Adding a battery in San Diego will provide a reliable back-up power supply to a home. It will help in the event of a power outage, but it won’t help save much money presently. As energy rates continue to change there may soon come a time when adding a battery to your system is an easy decision to make. But for now, you have a multitude of options depending on your energy needs.

Sunline is here for all of your solar storage solutions – contact us today for a free consultation.

2 Responses
  1. Andrew Cooperman

    Sunline installed my system several years ago. At that time it was designed to offset energy use to put us in the lowest tier of energy cost. It was great for 4 or 5 years, with annual true-up bills of around $400-500. With SDG&E rate changes, our true-up has gone to over $1,000 per year. I have no idea what I would be paying without our 6kW system, but I’m wondering with the new rate tiering coming up, does it make sense to add some capacity? What are costs and rebates?

    1. Gerry Ebert

      It may make sense to increase your system size and/or add a home battery to prepare for the switch to time of use billing. In order to determine this we would need to sit down with you, analyze your current solar production/energy consumption, and present different options specific to your situation. The current federal tax credit is 26% and there is also an SGIP rebate for battery systems. Feel free to contact us at 800-701-5022 to further explore this.

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