Understanding your solar generation installation

With a solar generation system, your home uses electricity generated from solar panels to power appliances in your home. The system then exports any leftover electricity to the grid.

How you take readings from your installation depends on whether you get paid through:

How your solar generation installation works

The following diagram shows the different parts of a home's solar generation installation.


The solar panels (1) send direct current, or DC, through a DC isolator (2) to the DC/AC inverter (3).

The DC/AC inverter converts the direct current into alternating current or AC.

Electricity is then passed through an AC isolator (4) to the generation meter (5), which records the total kilowatt-hours, or kWh, of electricity generated by the solar panels.

The electricity then goes to the consumer unit (6), which distributes power from the solar generation installation to the home.

Appliances in the home (7) use electricity as needed. Any extra capacity is sent through a normal electricity meter (8) and exported to the grid (9).

How solar panels can help reduce your bills

By generating renewable electricity at home, you could save money on your energy bills each year. And you'll help shrink your carbon footprint too. 

Use most of your electricity during the day

Power from the sun is free, of course. And during daylight hours, your panels will be generating electricity, even on gloomy days. Your energy bills only include the amount of electricity (in kilowatt hours) you've used from the National Grid. So by doing household chores during the day, you'll make savings by using the electricity you've generated to power your appliances, instead of energy from the grid.

Although your panels don't need direct sunlight to work, solar generation is generally seasonal. So you’ll see the majority of your savings during the summer months. 

Combine your solar panels with a home battery

If you have a solar battery, you’ll be able to store your excess energy from the sun and save it for when you need it - at night, for example. That way, you'll reduce the electricity you use from the grid, and cut your energy bills.

Get paid for the excess energy you export to the grid

Solar panels can also help you make money, on top of the savings they offer. If you’re generating more electricity than you can use or store, you can get paid for exporting the energy to the grid. 

If you’re registered for the Feed-in Tariff (FIT), you can get paid for the energy you generate and export. 

The Feed-in Tariff closed for new registrations in April 2019. If you're already registered for FIT with another supplier, you can still switch your FIT installation to Bulb

If you're not registered for FIT, you might be eligible for our Smart Export Guarantee. Sign up and we'll pay you for the energy you export to the grid. You'll need a smart meter or an export meter that can record your exported electricity every half-hour. 

Taking readings for the Feed-in Tariff

Take your quarterly reading for the Feed-in Tariff from the generation meter (5). It records how much energy your solar installation is generating, and will give you a reading in kWh.

Find out more about:

Taking readings for Export Payments 

Take your quarterly reading for your Export Payments from a smart electricity meter (8) or export meter that records your exported energy every half hour.

You can't take export meter readings from the generation meter (5), because it doesn't measure how much energy you're exporting to the grid.

Find out more about taking an export reading from a smart meter.

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