All Your Going Off-Grid With Solar Questions Answered

Defining Different Types of Grid Interconnection with Solar

Grid-tied solar system

This type of system is for anyone connected to the local power grid. Being grid-tied allows you to sell extra energy you produce back to the grid to offset your energy costs. Grid-tied systems are the most cost-effective solar option. They offer the fastest payback and the best ROI. Grid-tied solar is good for homes who are looking to save money on their electricity costs.

Grid-tied solar system with battery backup

Grid-tied solar systems with battery backup are ideal for anyone with unreliable power, or anyone with critical appliances that need to operate when the grid is down. These systems send excess energy into the grid for credits, pull energy from the grid when the solar system isn’t producing at night, and have backup batteries that store power to use in times of a utility outage. Generally, battery backup systems are not designed to power whole house loads, rather they power specific necessary loads within the home. This type of system is more expensive than a standard grid-tied system, but ensures you have reliable access to electricity.

Off-grid solar system

Off-grid systems are ideal for individuals who live remotely and don’t have access to utility power. Off- grid solar systems use solar panels to charge a bank of batteries which then power your home at night, or when the solar PV system is not meeting the load demand, especially during winter. These have a higher system cost due to the addition of the batteries and a standby generator to the solar system. When batteries become depleted during periods of low solar production, it is necessary to run a generator to provide power to the home. With an off-grid system, energy conservation is important. Using energy efficient appliances, reducing your energy consumption, managing your electric loads and relying on a backup generator are all elements of an off-grid lifestyle.

Grid-tied batteries

Tesla Powerwall can charge from the grid and doesn’t require solar to charge the batteries. This provides emergency backup power in the case of a grid failure.

Why Grid-Tied Solar Systems Are Best for Most Homes

Solar power allows you to generate your own energy, which means you won’t be buying power from the utility. You might assume this means going off-the-grid, but this is not the case.

If you have access to the grid, you will store excess power you create in the utility grid. You treat the grid like a big battery, charging it when you have excess power and taking energy when you need more. The utility company credits you for the extra power you produce (net-metering) and allows you to pull from the gird when you need it (at night).

An off-grid system doesn’t have any connection to the utility grid, so having some sort of alternative for storing excess energy is necessary. Off-grid homes require battery banks to store excess solar energy for later use. Without batteries or access to the grid, there would be no way to get energy to your home when your solar system isn’t producing.

The top mistake people make when they decide they want to go off-grid: equating breaking ties with the utility company with cost savings.

Grid-tied solar systems and off-grid solar systems are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to cost. Grid-tied solar is the most cost-effective type of solar system. Solar batteries ensure you have power when the grid goes down.

Maintaining grid interaction with your solar system through net metering is actually the best option for homeowners looking to cut costs.

The second mistake people make when deciding to go off-grid: thinking that off-grid homes are greener and more sustainable than conventional “grid tied” homes.

Maybe this comes from the roots of the off-grid movement… Most early solar pioneers were off-grid. They relied on solar, batteries, and often a generator to power their homes with no connection to the utility grid. Many people did this to live a more sustainable existence, including Third Sun founders, Michelle and Geoff! 

Nowadays, we find that most of our customers don’t live far from power lines. With a grid-tied system, any excess power generated from solar goes back into the grid and helps your neighbors reduce their carbon footprints.

Remember- it’s fossil fuels that we’re trying to avoid, not the grid itself.

While many are eager to cut ties with the utility company for one reason or another, the reality is that most of us are already tied in and the efficiencies of the grid generally outweigh an off-grid solar system.

The good news: you do not have to go off-the-grid to enjoy the benefits of clean, solar energy!

Your home is only a few smart steps away from enjoying the benefits that solar energy has in store. Contact us if you’re ready to start talking about solar for your home or business.

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