When my excess electricity goes back into the grid, where does it go after it has passed through my meter? Does it go to the next closest house needing power?

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    This site is intended to guide folks who want to do/fix/build/use things around their homes. Your question is theoretically/philosophically interesting, but I am not sure it guides us.
    – bib
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 23:33

2 Answers 2


Pretend your panels are a water pump connected from a nearby pond (your roof) to a water tower (the grid).

The grid is a large reservoir that can simultaneously take and provide electricity. This is because there are multiple sources and destinations for the electricity.

If no one else was using electricity when you were providing it, your meter would not register outgoing electricity (credit).

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    The reason for this question is that our small development has a meter for the entire development from our power company. There are several houses in our development who have installed solar panels. We want to know that our power is going back into the homes without solar in the development instead of back into our power company. It would still be metered into their homes, but not back to the overall meter. Are the other homes getting the use of our electricity or is it back into the grid as a whole?
    – user11544
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 2:22
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    @user11544 You should edit that information into your question.
    – Kevin Reid
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 4:29
  • @user11544: for one, that will depend how your development is wired up. Secondly, whether the other homes "get it" or if it goes into the grid is of absolutely no consequence. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 5:32

It's not a very meaningful question because the only thing that matters is how much each customer is charged and how much power the utility needs to generate.

However, if you are into tracking electrons, for a copper wire of length 1 meter and diameter 2 millimeters carrying a DC current of 1 Ampere, it takes 12 hours for the electrons to travel the one meter.


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    Well technically if you're talking about electrons, they're in a closed loop between your house and the transformer at the street. There's not a direct physical connection to the mains grid.
    – Hank
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 15:22
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    But there is a direct physical connection to all the neighbors sharing the same transformer. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 17:30
  • If you are into tracking electrons, you will have a hard time, because they individually move around in random directions, orders of magnitude faster than their average drift velocity.
    – Kaz
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 3:41

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