What Does it Mean to “Stay Behind the Meter?”

In the realm of renewable energy, the concept of staying “behind the meter” is changing how we think about electricity generation and consumption. This strategy, rooted in the use of distributed energy sources (DERs) like solar panels and home batteries, empowers homeowners to make, keep, and use your own energy.

Staying “behind the meter” represents a shift towards more autonomous, efficient, and sustainable energy management at home. By generating electricity with solar energy and battery storage systems, homeowners can depend less on utility companies to make their home more energy-smart and self-reliant.

In this article, we’ll dive into the electrical grid, DERs, and the tangible benefits of managing the amount of energy production and consumption from the comfort of your home.

Understanding the Electrical Grid

Our electrical system, known as the electrical grid, is an engineering marvel and the backbone of modern society. It enables the seamless delivery of electricity from power plants to consumers. This complex network, which includes generation, transmission, and distribution sectors, ensures electricity reaches homes, businesses, and industries reliably. Every day, millions of people depend on this highly complex system, which operates flawlessly 99.9% of the time.

The grid ensures the power produced matches exactly what we need, adjusting in seconds to maintain balance. For example, when you turn on your air conditioner, a generator elsewhere slightly adjusts to keep the voltage stable. This balancing act of supply and demand happens in real-time, though planning for power needs spans from an hour to years ahead.

However, as we embrace renewable energy solutions, the grid is going through a transformation. Solar energy is a key player in this shift because it challenges traditional power generation and prompts a reevaluation of how energy is distributed and managed. 

Integrating distributed energy resources (DER) like solar panels into the grid isn’t just a technical adjustment, but a shift towards more sustainable and resilient energy systems. This evolution reflects a growing recognition of the need to diversify energy sources and improve grid flexibility.

What are Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)?

Distribution lines, strung along wooden poles across cities and towns, deliver electricity to where we live. Transformers, mounted on poles or housed in ground-level boxes, adjust the voltage down to the 240 volts for our homes and businesses to use.

These transformers work both ways, also bumping up the voltage when power flows to the grid from local energy sources like solar panels, small wind turbines, and home batteries. When these sources produce more power than needed, the surplus zips back along the lines, supplying nearby users.

Distributed energy resources (DERs) offer a decentralized approach to power generation and consumption. These include solar panels, wind turbines, and energy storage systems that reduce transmission losses and enhance grid efficiency. Adopting DERs makes our energy grid more resilient and capable of withstanding and recovering from disruptions more quickly. 

For example, solar panels make a big difference in easing the load on the power grid. Your electric bill usually has two main parts: the cost for the electricity you use and the cost for delivering that electricity to your home. By installing solar panels, you cut down on the need for external electricity, meaning there’s less demand on the grid to transport power to you.

When many people in an area use more electricity, it puts a strain on the grid. Think of the grid like water pipes; there’s only so much electricity that can move through at once. If the system gets overloaded, utility companies have to spend a lot of money to upgrade the infrastructure. Solar panels help by lowering the demand, which can mean these costly upgrades aren’t needed as soon.

What it Means to Stay “Behind the Meter”

Staying “behind the meter” is an innovative approach to energy management because homeowners can produce, store, and consume their own energy and minimize their dependence on the power grid. This involves using solar panels to produce electricity and home batteries to store the excess energy generated for later use. 

By managing energy consumption on-site, homeowners can enjoy big savings on their electric bills and make our energy ecosystem more sustainable. This comes with financial benefits through reduced utility expenses and reduces their reliance on other sources of energy by providing a reliable backup power source during power outages or peak demand periods.

The Benefits of Solar Panels as a Key DER

Solar panels are at the forefront of renewable energy, capturing sunlight and converting it into electricity. This clean and abundant energy source is a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels and helps homeowners significantly reduce their energy bills and fight climate change

When homeowners and businesses install solar panels, they cut down on how much electricity the whole network needs. Using the power their panels generate, or sharing excess power back through net metering, they use less from the grid.

Installing solar panels allows homeowners to produce a substantial amount of electricity to power their home, electric vehicle, etc. As solar technology advances, their efficiency also continues to improve, making them an increasingly attractive option for homeowners to adopt clean energy solutions.

This is especially during the summer months when electricity use spikes due to air conditioning and other cooling needs. This peak time matches perfectly with solar’s highest output, easing the grid’s burden and potentially lowering electricity costs in states like California where electricity rates are high.

The Importance of Home Batteries

Home batteries are essential for maximizing the benefits of solar energy systems, providing a way to store energy for use when sunlight is unavailable (at night, on cloudy days, etc). They are crucial for homeowners to stay behind the meter. Lithium ion batteries, like Tesla Powerwall and Enphase IQ Battery 5P, offer high energy density and long life spans, making them ideal for residential energy storage.

By using batteries in conjunction with solar panels, homeowners can ensure a continuous energy supply, even during power outages, to enhance their self-sufficiency and reduce their reliance on the grid. Solar plus battery storage also supports energy independence and reduces strain on the grid by providing a buffer against price fluctuations. This allows homeowners to use their stored solar power during peak demand times, when electricity rates are higher, which saves them money and helps stabilize the grid by reducing peak load demands. 

Moreover, a solar panel and battery system includes the chance to significantly lower their electricity bills. By making and storing their own power, they can avoid high utility rates, especially during peak times when electricity prices are at their highest. 

As a result, this investment can lead to substantial savings over time, offsetting the initial installation costs and contributing to a more sustainable energy future. Plus, there’s a range of incentives and tax credits that can make solar panels and batteries more accessible and affordable. 


The path to energy independence starts with the choice to install solar panels and a home battery. By choosing to stay behind the meter, you can take a significant step towards reducing your environmental impact, enjoying long-term savings, and contributing to the shift towards renewable energy sources. 

If you’re ready to change the way you power your home and take control of your energy future, contact us today for a free customized quote.

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