What is net metering?

A net meter is a metering device that allows you to sell your excess solar power back to the grid in return for a financial credit. The net meter also records the electricity you buy from the grid.

Solar net metering

Solar net metering records your electricity imports from the grid, and the electricity generated by your solar power system that you export back to the grid.

This image shows how solar net metering works. It shows behind-the-meter use, electricity exported to the grid and electricity imported from the grid.

How solar net metering works

With solar net metering, any electrical appliances in use are powered directly by your solar panel system, these savings are behind-the-meter and typically do not appear on your bill. As a customer, your bill reflects your ‘net’ energy use; electricity bought from the grid less feed-in tariffs received.

There are three ways that solar net metering works:

  • 1. Use your solar energy
  • 2. Export your solar energy
  • 3. Import your electricity

Use your solar energy – Behind-the-meter savings

When your solar panels are generating electricity during the daytime, any
electrical appliances are powered using the solar energy generated by your system. This is the best way to use your solar panels and maximise your savings. However, these savings will not appear on your bill, because the net meter does not record this usage, it happens ‘behind-the-meter’.

Export your solar energy

Any excess solar energy generated by your system that you do not use, gets exported back to the grid. Your net meter records this amount and you will receive a feed-in tariff for every kWh of electricity you export.

Import your electricity

When your solar panels are not generating any electricity, you import it from the grid and your net meter records this amount; you pay your electricity retailer for every kWh of electricity you buy.

Solar net meter installation

When you buy a solar panel system, you need it set up so that you can get paid for the electricity you send back to the grid. You either need to:

  • Reconfigure your existing meter
  • Or, have a new net meter installed

If you need a new net meter, this will be installed by your electricity distributor and paid for through your electricity retailer, it is typically not included in the cost of your solar panels.

What is gross metering

Gross metering is when all of the solar power your system generates gets exported back to the grid, regardless of whether or not you are using electricity.

Gross or net solar metering?

In Australia, it is now better to use net solar metering as opposed to gross metering. Gross metering should no longer be used for new solar installations. Gross metering was used for customers on the old bonus feed-in tariff rates, where it was financially beneficial to export all of the solar energy because the feed-in tariffs were higher than the cost of electricity.

Feed-in tariffs are now much lower than the cost of electricity, so it is better to use solar net metering, and where you can, self-consume your solar power and maximise your behind the meter savings.

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