Grid Tied Solar Inverters. A grid-tie inverter is an electrical device that allows solar power users to complement their grid power with solar power. It works by regulating the amount of voltage and current that is received from the direct current solar panels (or other D.C. energy source) and converting this into alternating current. The main difference between an inverter and a grid-tie inverter is that the latter also ensures that the power supplied will be in phase with the grid power. This allows individuals with surplus power (wind, solar, etc) to sell the power back to the utility. This is sometimes called "spinning the meter backwards" as that is what literally happens.
How is a grid tie inverter different from other inverters? Firstly the 60Hz has to be matched in phase to the grid. This means the local oscillator has to be in sync with the grid. Secondly the voltage of the inverter output needs to be variable to allow it to be slightly higher than the grid voltage to enabling current to flow out to the grid. This is done by sensing current flow and raising the voltage on the output (or duty cycle of the transformer input) until the current flow results in the resulting output power matching the input power from the DC supply.