what does behind the meter mean

What Does Behind The Meter Mean?

You may have heard the term “behind the meter” used in conversation when discussing solar panels and battery energy storage systems…

But what does this mean? And what does “in front of the meter” mean for that matter? 

If you’re not exactly sure, or confused, this article describes a simple way to think about these increasingly common terms.

Behind The Meter or BTM... Explained

The term “behind the meter” (BTM) is used when describing solar and energy storage systems that power your home or building without needing your utility.

A BTM system not only helps you achieve energy independence from the grid, it also reduces risk because it increases energy resilience for your home or commercial building.

For instance, if you have a BTM solar plus energy storage system, if your electric utility suffers a blackout, you should not lose power and should continue to be able to use electricity at your home or office.

Energy independence is a trend that will continue to grow in popularity. This is because of our aging utility infrastructure and our increasing reliance on electricity for everything from Internet connectivity to electric vehicles.

Solar developers and installers often throw around the terms BTM and “in front of the meter” when referring to the services they provide… And there’s an easy way to visualize what these terms mean.

Visualizing Behind The Meter

The term behind the meter means the solar energy or energy storage systems are inside or on top of your home or building, or on your property, as opposed to outside it or away from it.

The easiest way to visualize what BTM means is to imagine yourself standing outside your house looking at your electric meter.

You’re looking at the meter that is attached to your house… 

As you stare at the meter, you’ll notice that behind the meter is your house and whatever’s attached to your house or inside it, such as your solar panels or a battery energy storage system, or both.

Conversely, as you stand there looking at your meter, watching the little dials spin for every kWh you use, you are standing in front of it. 

The term in front of the meter means what’s happening behind you, offsite, away from your home or property.

Any utility, transmission lines, power equipment, utility scale solar systems, etc. that are off in the distance behind you somewhere is in front of the meter. This includes community solar projects, remote energy storage systems, etc.

BTM systems can help with energy independence because they allow you to store energy from the grid, or from on site renewable energy, for later use.

If you have solar on your home you can use that energy to power your home when the sun is shining. At night you can use energy stored in your battery energy storage system. Commercial and industrial building owners can use solar plus storage BTM systems to reduce demand charges.

If you are grid independent, it means all of your energy production and storage of energy is happening behind the meter, meaning you’re not connected to the grid at all.

Solar plus storage systems can take advantage of the investment tax credit. In 2018, for the first time ever, BTM systems for residential customers outpaced utility battery systems in terms of storage capacity.

If you’re a solar and energy storage installer or own a company in this industry, learn more about how I may be of help and thanks again for reading…