On-Grid vs Off-Grid Solar Power
People are drawn to solar panels for a variety of reasons. Many see it as an opportunity to reduce their electricity costs, while others see it as a chance to contribute to the environment. But for some, the prospect of completely cutting ties with the grid is the most alluring.
What distinguishes on-grid solar from off-grid solar, and is solar the solution to severing connections with the grid?
Grid-Tied Solar Power
A grid-tied or on-grid system is physically connected to the electrical grid. There is a good reason why it is the most popular sort of solar power system. By enabling you to cover some or all of your utility expenditures, a grid-tied system lowers your monthly electricity costs.
If you generate more electricity than you consume, the power company will take the surplus and credit your account. The fact that you can still have power after the sun sets is another significant advantage of being connected to the power grid.
Build a grid-tied system if you have access to power wires. You can add batteries to a grid-tied system if you're worried about having power in case of emergencies or power outages.
There aren't many situations where an off-grid system is necessary. Really, the only places where an off-grid system would be necessary are very remote homes without access to power lines. Off-grid hunting lodges or cabins that are located in the middle of nowhere can make suitable candidates.
With an off-grid setup, you are unable to use the grid after the sun has set and your solar panels aren't producing energy and you cannot sell excess electricity to the utility. You must store all excess energy while using an off-grid system so that you can use it later. Lots of batteries could be needed for this.
Since an off-grid system is not ideal, you should connect your system to the grid if you can. But an off-grid solution can be very helpful if you live far from the nearest power line. Solar electricity is far more cheap over the long term when compared to high-priced fuel and generators.
People often find that an on-grid system has the disadvantage of not allowing them to use their power during power outages, which an off-grid system eliminates. Solar panels don't function when the power is out for the safety of utility personnel and to safeguard the electrical grid.
Many folks were upset that they couldn't use the power of their solar panels after the devastating hurricanes that battered the east coast last year. For these kinds of situations, it is again conceivable to add additional storage to your on-grid system, but the chances of the storage eventually paying for itself are low.
In any event, investing in power storage isn't really necessary in locations with few natural disasters and a reliable power supply with few outages.
How do you feel? Do you intend to use solar electricity off-grid?