On Grid vs Off Grid Solar Panels

There is a variety of solar panel systems to complement the unique customer’s needs and demands. When it comes to solar panel installation, it involves many critical decisions. Solar panel system requires high upfront investment. Moreover, the equipment has a long life. Therefore, it is critical that you make the right decision. It is suggested to partner with a credible solar installer with a commitment to guide you throughout the process and help you get the right system. At the same time, learning about the different systems and their unique attributes can come in handy. The article will cover the other characteristic, features, details, and differences between the off-grid solar and on-grid solar panel systems.

On Grid Solar

On-grid solar panel systems are connected to the local grid or the utility company’s system. On-grid is the most commonly used domestic solar panel system as it offers you support and coverage when needed. Furthermore, you can sell the excess produced energy to the grid and can enjoy bill credit. In such a system, your grid acts as a battery space. The system is attached with a net meter, which keeps track of the energy supplied to the grid, allowing you to build the credit that you can cash or adjust in your bill. The process is called net metering. On the other hand, battery back-up can also store overproduced energy, but it is an expensive option.

on grid solar system

Off-Grid Solar

Off-Grid Solar refers to the system which is not connected to the grid system or local community utility system. The user is self-sufficient in energy use. The off-grid system needs back up batteries, and those batteries are bulky and expensive. The RV Solar kits are an example Off-Grid Solar panel system. 

off grid vs on grid

Hybrid Solar Battery System

If the customer wants to reap the benefit of both panel systems, he/she can resort to Hybrid systems, which combine the best of both on-grid and off-grid systems. It is more like a plug and play system. Hybrid Solar Battery System helps the user reduce the grid energy during peak hours. Such system boosts your saving, and support breakdowns.

Hybrid systems are grid-tied but also have battery backup. It is an expensive option but has some benefits, which make it attractive. It allows the user to keep the energy running when the grid or local community utility system goes down. The grid-tied system can be connected to batteries using DC Coupling and AC Coupling.

off grid solar system

The difference between the On-grid and Off-grid solar panel system

Difference 1: Electricity Access

The grid-tied energy users are dependent on the grid or the community utility system. On the other hand, off-grid user depends on solar energy, which is free and renewable. The energy harnessed by your system is stored in the batteries. If you are off-grid with no batteries, you can have energy only when the sun is shining. The system efficiency also goes down in cloudy or rainy weather with an off-grid with no battery system. 

With a grid-tied solar panel system, the users always have energy access. There is no need for batteries, as the grid acts as one for the system. The user can supply the excess energy produced to the grid and use it back. The unconsumed energy is credited to the user’s bill. In a nutshell, the users always have enough electricity to complement the user’s energy needs. 

electricity by solar

Difference #2: Excess Production

For taking the best advantage of the solar system, it should be according to your energy needs and demands.  Moreover, how much you can produce and save depends on the panel size.  As solar energy is renewable and abundantly available, you can likely make more than your actual need.

Off-grid solar systems produce extra energy during the daytime to be used at night. For that, batteries are used to store energy. If you are interested in the off-grid system, it should be sized to produce enough energy to be used at night or round the clock. There is still a factor of uncertainty as the weather is unpredictable. In case of abnormal weather, rainy or cloudy, you may experience an energy shortage. Batteries are a good ad, but it is an expensive option.

 On-grid systems have the potential to meet all your energy needs. With the grid-tied system, the excess energy is supplied to the grid. You can use that energy when needed, and the remaining is credited to your bill. Thereby, it can save you hot cash. This process is called net metering. It is processed utility company credits or compensates your account for electricity harnessed by your solar panel system and sent to the grid. Then, whenever you need it, you’ll be drawing on those credits without racking up charges on your electricity bill. In the US, net metering is available in 39 states. 11 more states are in the transition process.

surplus solar panels

Difference #3: Electricity Bill

With an off-grid solar panel system, you won’t receive any bill at all. The electricity will be free, but the system itself is a bit more expensive because of the additional equipment. This equipment, such as batteries, is essential to make the system viable. 

     A grid-tied system is connected to the grid and uses its electricity when needed. Furthermore, the excess energy produced is supplied to the grid as well again bill credits. Even if your system makes all the energy required, you still have to pay a few minimal charges such as service fee and delivery charge. Mostly these charges are flat and are not changed your electricity use. In addition to that, damage charges are laid on commercial properties. The electricity also changes in peak and off-peak hours. The effect of these charges is reduced by net metering credit. 

     The off-grid and the on-grid system have its unique benefits. The right decision is based on market research and understanding your energy needs. It all depends on your situation and expectation. Off-grid systems offer complete freedom from the utility, but it is expensive. Grid-tied systems are more economical and environmentally friendly. Some prefer Hybrid systems, which offer you the benefits of both off-grid and on-grid system, but again it is an expensive option. 


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