What Does Grid Tied Mean?

What does grid tied mean when it comes to solar systems? A number of South Africans have been asking about this. With the country experiencing rolling blackouts, it’s not surprising that many people are looking to adopt solar energy as a solution to load shedding. When shopping around for an appropriate system for your home or for your office, one of the options that will likely be presented to you is to have a grid connected system. But what does that mean?

What is a grid connected solar system?

As the name suggests, a grid tied solar system is connected to the traditional grid. If you have such a system in your home or office, you will be able to draw power both from the Eskom grid and from your solar system.

Grid connected solar systems have bi-directional meters that allow them to export power to the grid in the event that they are producing more than is required in your home. That can be very beneficial when it comes to the reduction of your power bill.

Components of a grid tied system

That’s the answer to the question, what does grid tied mean. The following are the major components of a on-grid solar energy system;

  • Solar panels: They are the ones that convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Solar panels have been getting cheaper over the years, making them a worthwhile investment for those who are both concerned about the environment and for those who wish to escape the Eskom blues.
  • Inverter(s): This is a very useful component for converting the DC power that is produced by solar panels into AC. Most components within the modern home use AC, so this conversion is necessary.
  • A bi-direction meter: This is use to measure the flow of electricity both into and out of your home. In this case, this meter measure the amount of energy that you are getting from and sending into the Eskom grid.
  • Batteries: The traditional grid-tied system does not have battery backup. However, there are workarounds to this that you may wish to explore.

Why have a grid tied system?

In the above sections, we outlined what it means to have a grid-connected solar system. It simply means your solar system will be connected to the traditional power system in your home. So, you will be using both solar and the grid. But why would you opt for this system?

We have previously written on the advantages of a grid tied system. We outline all of them in that article. In this post, what we can say is that grid connected systems are beneficial because they allow you to use both the grid and your solar system.

So, if there is a shortfall in the amount of energy that is being produced by your solar array, the system will automatically use power from the grid. Of course, that can become something of a challenge in the case of South Africa where load shedding has become perpetual. You can learn more about the disadvantages of a grid tied system.

Are grid tied systems practical in South Africa?

Now that we have answered the question, what does grid tied mean, it’s time to contemplate whether or not this is the right solution for South Africans. Are grid tied solar systems a good solution for South Africa?

The answer is no, unless you are willing to invest in battery backup. We have already noted that the traditional grid tied system does not have battery backup. With people experiencing hours of power cuts, that can become a problem.

For safety reasons, grid tied systems are designed to cut off the flow of power into the grid in the event of a blackout. It means you won’t be selling anything to Eskom or to your municipality at these times. That defeats one of the purposes of having such a system.


In this article, we answered the question “what does grid tied mean,” in solar systems. It was noted that having a grid tied system allows you to sell power to Eskom. Your systems will be connected to the system, meaning power can flow in both directions.

However, such a system is not a good solution because of the blackouts that are being experienced in the country. In the event of a power outage, the grid connected inverter automatically shuts down as a safety measure. It’s possible, however, to find a workaround that allow you to add a battery to your grid-tied system.

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