Microgrids Explained: How These Modern Marvels Work

Electricity is a modern marvel. Go back a hundred and fifty years and electricity was pretty much unknown. Someone living during those times would scarcely be able to comprehend many modern technologies. Yet as far as we’ve come, we’ve got a long way to go. One of the most exciting developments in recent years was the invention of microgrids, which are local energy grids with their own control capacity.

Put more plainly, a microgrid is a grid that can disconnect from traditional electricity grids while still providing electricity and operating. You may have heard of people “going off the grid.” With microgrids, you can go off local power grids but can still tap into electricity.

Grids connect homes, businesses, and other facilities to a power plant or other centralized power source (such as a dam). The grid essentially transfers electricity from the power plant to your home or building. Sometimes, the electricity has to travel vast distances, but either way, as soon as you flick your light switch or turn on your TV, you can put that electricity to work.

Unfortunately, many power grids in the United States are aging, disrupting electricity networks and other power utilities. Even if the traditional grids in your area are in good repair, local power generating plants and facilities may themselves be overwhelmed.

That’s why many people are turning to microgrids. With these grids, small communities, such as a subdivision, can set up their own microgrids. Once a power source, say solar panels or wind turbines, is connected to the microgrid, any facilities connected to the grid can tap it for electricity.

Often, you can still use traditional power grids if you so choose to do so. However, if the traditional grid goes down, you can still rely on your microgrid to deliver electricity.