What Solar System Is Right For You?
There are three different types of solar systems that you can have on your home or business. What Solar System is right for you? In this post, we’ll explore the differences of all three, as well as the benefits and drawbacks between the systems.
With the extension of the Federal Investment Tax Credit and many state and local incentives available, consumers should know the different solar solutions available to them. You can use the Database Of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency website to search the local incentives available to you.
Off Grid –
When most people think of going solar an Off Grid System is what first comes to mind.
Some prepper in the woods hermitting away from society, awaiting the end of the world.
Most off gridders aren’t like that.
What is an Off Grid System?
Off-Grid simply means that you aren’t tied to any utilities. The solar panels convert the sun’s rays into energy. After the energy is collected it goes to a solar inverter. From there the power is sent to a battery inverter. The power is stored in batteries so that you still have power at night when the sun isn’t shining.
Benefits of an Off Grid System
- Energy Independence– Once your Solar System is paid off you won’t have any costs associated with your electricity.
- Cost-Effective– For some very remote properties, an Off-Grid Solar System can actually be cheaper than running powerlines to the home.
- Environmentally Responsible– Solar energy is the cleanest, most abundant, and cheapest renewable.
Off-Grid Systems are great for small hunting lodges or vacation homes. They are also great for people who live very remotely.
Downfalls of an Off -Grid System
- Batteries– You may need a lot of them depending on the size of your home and the amount of electricity you use. If you need a lot of batteries, then you’ll need space to store them. Most solar batteries are lithium and lithium batteries lose efficiency in the cold.
- Maintenance– Off-Grid Systems require more upkeep than grid-tied systems. If your system isn’t working at top efficiency you won’t have enough power for your home.
- Is it Legal?– Some states have laws banning off-grid systems altogether.
Grid Tied Systems
The most common solar system is the grid-tied system. These are the systems you see in your local cul de sac and adorn the rooftops of public buildings and businesses.
What is a Grid Tied System?
A Grid-Tied system is a semi-autonomous electrical generation system that links to the grid. When you aren’t producing electricity, you draw from the grid. Conversely, when excess electricity is produced, it is sent to the grid.
The electric company uses Net Metering to determine how much electricity you are producing vs the amount of electricity you are pulling from the grid. Depending on your electric company’s Net Metering policy, you may have the ability to completely eliminate your electric bill.
Benefits of a Grid Tied System
- No Batteries- With a grid-tied system you don’t have to worry about battery maintenance or the added upfront costs to your system. Subsequently, since you aren’t relying on batteries, you will have continuous power as long as the grid is up and running.
- Economical– The price of solar has dropped significantly over the years and is now cheaper than grid electricity. PV systems save consumers thousands of dollars over the life of the panels. Most people can save money from day one.
- Community Oriented– By having Grid Tied Solar you are lessening the demand on the power grid and actually helping the grid carry the load. This helps keep the cost of energy lower and lessens the chances of grid failure.
Grid-Tied Solar is a great option for anyone wanting to go solar. It works well for any size system and has immediate savings for most in the beginning and substantial savings for all in the long run.
Downfalls of a Grid Tied System
- Financing– If you require a very large system you may not qualify for enough financing to cover it. You can look into a Solar PPA or Lease as an alternative
- Net Metering Policy– Some states don’t have a mandatory net metering policy in place. This can allow electric companies to take advantage of solar consumers, limiting solar savings.
- Grid Dependent – If the grid is down you won’t have electricity. With a Grid-Tied System, you are still dependent on the electric company to power your home.
Most disadvantages of a Grid-Tied System have a solution. Even if a system that reaches a complete offset of your electrical usage is not cost-effective, a good solar consultant will know just how much offset will be the most beneficial to you.
Hybrid Solar Systems
Hybrid Systems are a great option for people who have an energy company without a Net Metering policy or a Net Metering policy that doesn’t pay you retail value for the electricity you produce and send back to the grid.
What is a Hybrid Solar System?
A Hybrid Solar System is a Grid-Tied System that has a battery back up. Excess power goes to your batteries first before being sent to the grid. You also utilize your battery power first before you will pull power from the grid.
Benefits of a Hybrid Solar System
- Energy Independence -Hybrid Systems allow you to utilize more of the power you’re producing since excess energy charges your batteries first before going to the grid.
- Power Security– You’ll still have power when the grid is down.
- High Efficiency– Hybrid Solar Systems don’t waste fuel like typical generators and can adjust according to the needs of the devices they are powering giving them better load management.
Hybrid Solar Systems give you the best of what both Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Systems have to offer.
Hybrid Solar Systems give you the best of what both Grid Tied and Off Grid Systems have to offer .
Downfalls of a Hybrid System
- Cost– Hybrid Solar Systems are more expensive than their counterparts. The system is more complex and requires the additional cost of batteries.
- Maintenance- Just as a Grid-Tied System you will have more maintenance to ensure your system is running at top efficiency.
- Savings– You may not save money day one with your Hybrid Solar System.
When you get the best of both worlds you get the worst of both worlds too. However, some may find the benefits of a Hybrid System far out way the downfalls.
Want to Learn More?
Hirst Solar Consulting can build you a custom solar design to fit your specific needs. You can visit our page to request your free consultation or to get more information you the best solar solution for you.