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Do You Need to Change Your Meter for Solar Panels?

January 29, 2024 | Reading Time: 9 minutes

When you get solar panels, unless you decide to build a completely off-grid solar systems, you will still have a relationship with your utility company. Over 99% of all solar systems in the United States are “grid-tied” so that way the solar system can participate in net metering.

If you do not already have a bi-directional electric meter, you will need to change your meter when you get solar panels. 

Do you need to change your meter for solar panels?

Solar panels require a bi-directional or two-way meter to be installed on the property before the system can be activated. This meter allows for the tracking of energy to and from the grid. If you do not already have a bidirectional meter, you will need to change your meter after solar installation is complete and before your system is turned on.

What’s the difference between a one-way electric meter and a bi-directional electric meter?

A one-way, standard electric meter can only track your home’s consumption. It spins one way and simply monitors how much energy you’re taking in from the grid every month.

Two-way or bi-directional meters have the ability to spin both forward and backward and track energy sent to and received from the grid. This meter is what allows you to participate in renewable energy programs like net metering.

A bi-directional meter is not necessary for a home that is strictly consuming energy. But when the home becomes a source of energy, the meter must be upgraded in order to track its output.

How do I upgrade my meter for solar panels?

Your utility company will come switch out your meter after your solar panels are installed but before they are turned on. Since most meters are located on the outside of houses, the meter can be easily switched out and you will not need to be home.

You will know that your meter has been switched if you momentarily lose power. At this point, call your solar installer because it’s time to activate your system!

Do I have to pay a separate fee to upgrade my meter for solar panels?

Most utility company’s charge a fee to apply to interconnect your solar system to the grid, but they typically do not charge a separate fee just for the meter. 

Should you trust your utility company’s bi-directional meter?

We do not believe that the electric company should be the only ones measuring how much electricity you’re sending back to the grid. It is plausible that their meter could be incorrectly calibrated or flat out broken. We recommend that you install your own home energy meter in addition to the utility company’s meter. Then, at the end of the month you will be able to confirm that your meter readings are equal to what the utility company meter’s readings are. 

Is net metering worth upgrading my meter?

We highly encourage solar adopters to participate in a net-metering program if it’s available to them. Net-metering allows homes to receive energy credits from the grid and potentially offset their entire electric bill.

Most systems are sized to produce more energy than the home consumes, meaning there is often a surplus of energy which would otherwise go to waste if the system is not enrolled in net-metering.

At Isaksen Solar, we believe that upgrading to a bi-directional meter is extremely worth the investment in order to participate in net-metering. Your savings in electricity will quickly outweigh the costs for a switching out your meter.

If you have any questions regarding your meter or switching to solar, give us a call, (508) 717-3820, or request your free quote.