Solar 101: On-Grid and Off-Grid Solar Solutions

Sep 12, 2017

What are the Differences between Off-Grid and On-Grid Solar?

On-grid

electricity is connected to the solar system to the utility grid. The home still uses power from the utility at night and in inclement weather but uses solar power during sunny days. The solar system can feed excess power back onto the utility grid and the homeowner can receive credit for the excess power generated. When the utility grid goes down, the solar system also shuts down. There is no backup power supply (unless the homeowner has a generator).

Off-grid

solar systems are not connected to the utility grid. The home uses a bank of batteries to supply power to the house loads and the solar is the primary source of charging power for the battery bank. A generator is often incorporated for battery charging when sunlight is not available.

The third type of solar electric system is called Battery-based. This is a hybrid between off-grid and on-grid systems. The solar is electrically connected to the utility grid but also has the ability to provide power to the home in the event of grid failure by incorporating a bank of batteries and a special, battery-based grid inverter. Battery-based systems are very popular in areas where the on-grid system may fail frequently (black-outs, power supply interruption) and also where clouds and weather can interfere with an off-grid system’s ability to consistently deliver power, such as in Hawaii.

Byers Solar way Off-Grid
Byers Solar Off-Grid

How Do Costs for On-Grid and Off-Grid Solar Compare?

The cost difference between on-grid and off-grid solar is typically in the tens of thousands of dollars. On-grid, battery-based systems being the most costly. For example, if a standard on-grid system costs $20,000. That same system with an off-grid inverter and a bank of batteries might cost closer to $30,000, while the on-grid, battery-based system would be closer to $35,000.

However, as with all solar pricing, each system is custom and cost varies considerably depending on many factors such as geographical region, utility provider, household loads, solar system performance estimate, sun exposure, and solar panel mounting location.

Why would I want to go off-grid?

Many remote areas do not have on-grid coverage. This means that to get on the grid, property owners have to pay to have utilities installed. This makes the cost to go on-grid prohibitive, and in many cases, makes great economic sense to go with an off-grid energy system.

Another factor here is that homes or land that do not have grid-supplied power are often significantly less expensive, so it is possible to see how off-grid can make sound financial sense, according to location.

Byers Solar consults with home and business owners on the best solar solution for their individual circumstances. Call Byers Solar today for a complimentary in-home digital energy analysis and consultation at (530) 272-8272.

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