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Knowing the Difference Between Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar Systems


A solar system is more than just a great way of providing free electricity to the home; it also raises its value significantly. You could also be able to sell back energy you have collected to your city, but it all depends on what type of system you go with.

Now has never been a better time to buy a solar system, not just because they are decreasing in price, but they are becoming more technologically advanced by the year. Here are both types of solar systems that you can consider.

Grid-Tied Solar System

Grid-tied solar systems are connected to the main power grid. If something goes wrong with your solar system and you cannot draw power from it, it will still draw power from the traditional means of getting power from your electric company. This is one large advantage over off-grid solar systems, since you will not be able to use any power with an off-grid system; it only has one- line support, whereas grid-tied systems have 2. You will need a grid-tied system if you plan to sell energy back to the electric company. When you decide to sell energy that you create, but have not used, that is what is known as “net metering”.

Grid-tied systems are also cheaper than off-grid systems, and do not require any batteries to operate. However, when a power outage occurs in your neighborhood, your home will shut down, too. Not that a solar system isn’t capable of powering your home during a power outage, but if it were to do that, electricians would risk getting electrocuted when working to restore power to the neighborhood.

Off-Grid Solar System

Off-Grid systems are another option from installers to consider. With an off-grid system, you are off the grid. This comes with many benefits that grid-tied systems do not have. Most specifically, if a power outage were to occur, you would still have power. What is even better is that the power you get 100 percent belongs to you, so you will not worry about receiving an electric bill each month. However, you will have to spend a lot of money upfront, because you want to be sure that the system can power everything in your home.

In order for a grid-tied system to work well, you will need to have a set of batteries to be able to store power. This is so that you can still enjoy power during cloudy days and night. Batteries typically last 5 to 10 years and these can be pricey in their own right.

The downsides to an off-grid solar system are as follows. First of all, you will not be able to have the electric company save the day if your solar system were to shut down. When you are off the grid, you are completely independent of the electric company. The only means of backup power is to buy a generator, and there are none that exist yet that can power a home of substantial size.

Furthermore, if you have power that you store, you will not be able to use net metering to sell it back to the city. The power you collect is 100 percent yours to keep, but you cannot make a profit with it like you can with a grid-tied system.

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages by choosing either a grid-tied or off-grid solar system. The decision should all come down to what your priorities are, whether it be independence from the city, saving money, or which system is less likely to fail.

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