The Grid Zero House: Almost Off-Grid But With A Twist

Some people in British Columbia prefer to keep their existing analogue meter and not make the switch to a smart meter. There are many personal reasons for this decision.

Unfortunately BC Hydro will only allow net metering for clients with a smart meter. You can have the radio-on or radio-off option.

This makes it challenging for people who want to set-up a solar array on their property.

Until now there were limited choices: Go off grid completely or accept the smart meter.

Sweet Spot Solar is pleased to offer you a third option called Grid Zero. This allows you to keep your analogue meter, stay connected to the grid, and have a solar array. This also works with smart meters and adds the bonus of net metering into the mix.

How does this work?

With smart metering (using the net metering program) and a solar array, you remain connected to the grid. Your smart meter records how much power you consume, and how much power you push into the grid and it records excess generation. This creates a rolling credit.

With a Grid Zero system you remain connected to the grid, have battery back up, but you are not pushing extra power back into the grid. There is no credit for excess generation from BC Hydro in this case.

In other words, you are not grid-tie for the solar array but still remain grid connected for your house. This approach works with an analogue meter and does not require BC Hydro approval since you are not feeding their grid. Of course, an electrical permit is still required. The illustration below helps explain how this works.

Sweet Spot Solar can sell you the solar modules and electronics to make this a reality, and for a Grid Zero approach we use an incredible piece of integrated technology called the Wave.

The Wave is a complete plug and play system that includes state-of-the-art battery technology and world-class inverter technology by Outback Power. The system is enclosed in one housing, and it is programmable to work in grid-tie, off-grid, and Grid Zero applications.

The batteries are made using a non-toxic Aqueous Hybrid Ion solution (like salt water) and they come in various sizes from 4000W with 11.85 kWh of storage all the way to a whooping 16,000W at 71.1 kWh. To learn more about the batteries go here. You can watch a video of how this battery is made on Youtube. To learn more about the developer of the product click here.

In a nutshell, Grid Zero works like this:

In the day when the sun is shining, your house is using power from the solar array. If extra power is required, the battery will be used to top up your needs. If still more power is required, that differential will be drawn from the grid.

When the sun is not shining and your solar array isn't producing anything, you will draw from your batteries first and then top up from the grid as required.

The system is designed to keep your batteries charged as well.

This is all done seamlessly by the system, and it cuts down dramatically how much power you need to purchase from BC Hydro. If you size the system right, you may not need to buy anything from them!

The system provides reliability, can be used during power outages, reduces your purchase costs from BC Hydro, and doesn't require a very large array and battery back up system like a full off-grid kit Most off-grid systems also require the use of backup generators frequently during winter months to keep batteries topped up.

For those interested in the technical side of how this inverter technology works go here.

Let us know if this is something we can design and quote for you.