There are three types of grid systems: Grid-tied, grid-tie with battery back up, and off-grid.
A grid-tied system is the most common type of solar power because it’s cheaper to install than a grid-tie system with battery backup or an off-grid system. The panels on your roof feed electricity directly into the utility company’s electric lines, which gives you credit for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of sunlight that you produce. If you use more energy from the utility company than what your panels generate during a given month, then at the end of that month, they will bill you for any shortfall in kWh generated minus kWh used; if your usage exceeds what was produced by your panels, then you will get a credit from the utility company. You pay your utility company for the net amount of energy used, but you pay only for the renewable energy credits (RECs) from any solar power generated that month.
The grid-tie system with battery backup is the most popular form of residential solar power because it eliminates the need to be clouded by a utility company. This solar power system combines the first type of system with a battery backup to provide electricity during a power outage or when the sun isn’t shining bright. The net energy used each month is reported like in a grid-tie system and is paid for at either just under, equal to, or well above the retail price of electricity from the utility company. The battery backup is essentially a large rechargeable battery that stores electricity for later use. It’s only needed if you have a grid-tie system so that your solar power system can continue to provide power in the event of an outage.
The off-grid system is ideal for those who want to be completely independent of utility companies; it’s also the most expensive type of solar power system. A typical off-grid solar power system would consist of a solar array, charge controller, and batteries; it’s connected to an inverter that produces electricity that can be used to run appliances in your home. The benefits of off-grid systems are privacy, security, and cost savings. You can disconnect from the power company so you aren’t affected by brownouts or blackouts in your area. This solar power system is also ideal for cabins and homes located far from a power grid.
The Difference Between Off-Grid and On-Grid Solar Energy System
When it comes to installing a solar power system in your home, both on-grid and off-grid systems offer advantages. However, the choice between them is ultimately one of preference; you’ll have to decide which system better suits your lifestyle. These two types of solar power systems run in opposite manners: the off-grid system relies solely upon its battery as a means of powering your home, while the on-grid system is directly tied to the grid. In terms of cost, off-grid systems are generally 30 percent more expensive than an on-grid system because they require batteries in cases of inclement weather; however, you will save money by not paying monthly bills for electricity from your utility company.
Off-grid systems are generally more challenging to maintain than their on-grid counterparts. They require routine maintenance checks, as the batteries should be examined for corrosion and leaks. In addition, because off-grid systems do not rely upon a central electricity grid monitored and maintained by professionals, they also run the risk of having power outages due to maintenance issues with the grid or a significant weather issue.
On-grid systems are easier to install and maintain, as they do not require batteries to be replaced; however, you will still save money by producing your electricity at home without having to pay monthly bills for it from your utility company. If you have an on-grid solar power system, you’ll continue to rely on the central electricity grid for a source of energy; however, your utility company will credit you with any excess energy produced by your panels during the month.
On-grid systems can be more easily upgraded over time without installing new batteries and other equipment as their counterparts do. If you have a grid-tied system, you can add panels and batteries in the future to increase your capacity on sunny days.
Off-grid systems are ideal for those who live away from populated areas or want to be completely independent of utility companies; they’re also the most expensive type of solar power system. A typical off-grid system would consist of a solar array, charge controller, and batteries. It’s connected to an inverter that produces electricity which can be used to run appliances in your home.
Which type of solar energy system is better for you, on-grid or off-grid?
At its core, solar energy systems are designed to be off-grid or grid-tied. Grid-tied means that the solar panels are connected to the electrical grid. You receive a credit from your utility company for excess power given back to the grid (and you also get an electric bill like usual).
Advantages of Grid-Tied Systems
SAVE MORE MONEY WITH NET METERING
With a grid-tied system, you can still draw power from the utility if there isn’t enough sunlight to run your household. In some areas, this is called net metering. You’re on sun time and not utility time. If weather conditions are worse than usual for an extended period, you’ll have extra savings. Also, since grid-tied systems aren’t dependent on backup batteries, you can use as much power as it generates, whether or not that’s more than the amount of solar energy hitting your panels.
The main advantage of having a grid-tied system is financial. If you have solar panels installed, you don’t have to worry about buying batteries or generators that will run your appliances. You can still use the electricity from your utility company if you need it. It is important to note that you might not be allowed to use solar panels for power in some areas unless you switch over to a grid-tied system.
You also don’t have much maintenance since there isn’t much difference between the solar panels and your home’s other electrical components. The solar panels need to be cleaned every two to five years, but there isn’t much maintenance required beyond that. They won’t break down or burn out like on-demand generators would if they were used for long periods at a time.
THE UTILITY GRID IS A VIRTUAL BATTERY
A grid-tied system has the added benefit of taking advantage of “the utility grid,” which acts as a giant battery for your home. If you don’t have enough solar energy generation at one time, you can draw power from the grid and save it up until you need it. The utility grid also serves to smooth out the minor fluctuations in your solar energy generation so that you don’t have to worry about quick changes between loads and output.
Better for the Environment
Grid-tied systems are also a better choice for the environment. Since you don’t have backup generators or batteries, you’re not using any fossil fuels like gasoline to run them. If you get a grid-tied system installed and use about as much electricity as your solar panels produce each year, then your house will be completely carbon neutral. You don’t need to worry about the burning of fossil fuels, either. In some areas, if you have a grid-tied system installed and use more electricity than your solar panels produce in a year, then you will be charged extra fees by your utility company.
The same goes for if you use less electricity than your solar panels produce in a year. Some utility companies will pay you for any extra electricity that you provide to the grid. You don’t have to worry about maintenance either because the utility company still needs to maintain its power lines, even if they aren’t delivering power through them anymore.
Off-Grid Solar Systems:
If you choose to go with an off-grid system, you must know how much power your household uses each month. For most households, this could mean at least a 5kW solar panel system (system size will vary depending on your particular household’s needs). Off-grid systems are not connected to any primary electrical grid. They must use a battery bank charged by the sun to supply your household with power when there isn’t enough sunlight available.
Advantages of Off-Grid Solar Systems
NO ACCESS TO THE UTILITY GRID:
A significant advantage of off-grid systems is that you don’t have to worry about utility company regulations. If you live in an area where the utility mainly offers electricity from coal, it might be better for the environment if you go with an off-grid system. There are also no fees associated with being connected to a local power grid. You can use all the electricity you generate or store.
Off-grid systems allow you to power your household without having to worry about any batteries running out. Since they are entirely self-sufficient, there’s no need for backup generators and extra money going towards maintenance. Maintenance is only required every five years or so if there are regular inspections of the battery bank.
If you have an off-grid system and a neighbor’s power is out, then you can provide electricity for them if needed.
BECOME ENERGY SELF-SUFFICIENT:
A big draw of an off-grid system is that you don’t have to rely on any utility company for your energy. You are in full control, and you can decide how much or little electricity you want to pay for each month. If there ever comes a time when the electrical grid fails, then an off-grid system keeps working.
Off-grid systems are also less prone to outages during extreme weather. If the power lines go down, it is up to your utility company to determine when they will be repaired. However, with an off-grid system, you can keep providing electricity for your household despite a lack of sun or heavy storms that may occasionally interrupt your solar installation.
If you install a wind generator along with your solar panels, then you can even provide electricity for your household during the winter months.