As the world embraces renewable energy sources, solar power has emerged as a prominent solution to combat climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Two primary choices stand out when considering solar energy options: off-grid and grid-tied solar systems. While both offer compelling benefits, they also present unique challenges.
In this blog, we look at the pros and cons of each system to help you navigate the decision-making process. Whether you prioritize energy independence or maximizing savings, understanding the trade-offs between off-grid and grid-tied solar systems is crucial for making an informed choice that aligns with your needs and circumstances.
We’ll answer the following questions:
- What is the difference between grid-tied and off-grid solar?
- Which is better grid-tied or off-grid?
- What are the pros and cons of off-grid solar systems and grid-tied solar systems?
- What happens to grid-tied inverter when grid power is off?
- How many solar panels does it take to run a house off-grid?
What is the Difference Between Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar?
A grid-tied solar system is connected directly to the utility grid, allowing excess energy to be fed back to it. This solar system transfers energy from the panels to the grid to generate electricity. Because of this, grid-tied systems cannot be independent and must use power from the grid on days when sunlight is limited.
Likewise, setting up a grid-tied solar system usually takes fewer steps. They need the proper equipment to connect to the grid properly. This consists of solar panels, an inverter to convert DC power from the panels into AC power, and a net metering system to measure the electricity flow to the grid.
On the other hand, an off-grid solar system isn’t connected to the grid, requiring batteries to store energy. Off-grid solar systems are typically utilized in remote areas where connecting to the grid isn’t plausible.
The batteries that store the surplus energy can power the home completely independent of the grid during limited sunlight. Due to being disconnected from the grid, they commonly have a backup generator that can provide additional power if necessary.
Off-grid solar systems have a more complex installation process. Without a connection to the grid, off-grid solar systems require additional energy storage and management equipment. They need battery banks, solar charge controllers, and sometimes backup generators.
Lastly, grid-tied and off-grid systems have different costs. A grid-tied solar system is more cost-effective, not needing battery storage or a backup generator. The additional equipment of off-grid systems increases costs, but in areas where grids aren’t available, the off-grid system is a more viable choice.
Which is Better Grid-Tied or Off-Grid?
The best option for you ultimately comes down to your situation. In general, grid-tied solar systems are more cost-effective, with lower up-front costs and opportunities to obtain credits for excess energy. While off-grid systems are more expensive, needing batteries for energy storage, they might be the best choice for you if you live in an isolated location where connecting to the grid isn’t doable.
What are the Pros and Cons of Off-Grid Solar Systems and Grid-Tied Solar Systems?
Off-grid solar systems use batteries for energy storage rather than connecting to the grid. When deciding between off-grid and grid-tied systems, there are several pros and cons to consider.
Off-Grid Solar Systems
|Battery storage. Surplus energy stored in batteries can be used during periods of low sunlight when the solar panels cannot generate sufficient power.||No credit potential. Excess energy isn’t stored in the grid and can’t be exchanged for credit.|
|Not impacted by power outages. Off-grid solar systems operate independently and aren’t affected by grid outages.||Reliant on solar and battery banks. Your electricity access wholly depends on the sun and the energy stored in your solar battery bank and can deplete on cloudy days.|
|No electricity bills. Being wholly independent of the grid, you won’t receive electricity bills.||More expensive upfront costs. Off-grid systems require more complex installation and additional equipment like costly batteries.|
Grid-Tied Solar Systems
|Credit potential. Excess electricity generated by grid-tied systems is returned to the supply grid in exchange for credits.||Lack of storage. They don’t have energy storage capabilities and may run out of energy during outages or prolonged deficiency of sun exposure.|
|Less expensive upfront costs. Unlike off-grid systems, grid-tied systems don’t require purchasing expensive battery storage due to being connected to the grid.||Risk of grid power outage. In the absence of sunlight and a grid outage, there will be no access to backup power from the utility grid.|
|Less environmental impact. Grid-tied systems help decrease carbon emissions by returning surplus solar energy to the local power grid.||Require Access to Grid. Living in a remote area may make it unrealistic for the grid to power a grid-tied solar system.|
Both types of solar power systems exist to convert solar energy into electricity. Whether off-grid or grid-tied solar best fits you comes down to your personal needs. Consider the pros and cons of both systems and ask yourself what your energy needs are and how your location impacts this choice.
What Happens to a Grid-Tied Inverter When Grid Power is Off?
A grid-tied inverter won’t function properly if there’s an outage or the grid power is disconnected. As a safety protocol, it’ll no longer produce energy or transfer into the grid. The DC and AC safety disconnects to avoid harm to utility workers working to restore power or cause damage to the grid’s infrastructure.
How Many Solar Panels Does it Take to Run a House Off-Grid?
Each house has varying sun exposure and consumes different amounts of electricity. Based on the average electricity consumption and sun exposure, it would take approximately 17 400-watt solar panels to power a home off the grid.
Depending on several factors, your home may need closer to 25 solar panels to meet this level of independence. Along with the solar panels, you’ll also need to invest in more storage capacity due to not having access to the grid. This typically calls for 8 to 12 batteries. Again, the exact amount of solar panels and batteries you’ll need is based on your home’s location and electricity consumption.
Choose the Experts at OWE for Top-Notch Solar Panel Installation
At Our World Energy, our priority is to guarantee that the installation of your solar power system is handled by professionals, ensuring you receive maximum energy efficiency.
Get in touch with us today to discover more about our solar installation services and take the first step towards achieving energy independence.