Choosing Between Off-Grid And Grid-Tie Solar Systems

28 January 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Installing solar panels on your home is a great way to lower your energy costs and reduce your impact on the environment. However, one critical choice faces any homeowner considering the integration of solar power. Both off-grid and grid-tie systems offer a number of advantages, but both have drawbacks you should be aware of as well, and once you understand these you'll be better prepared to choose which suits your needs.

Understanding Grid-Tie Systems

Grid-tie solar systems get their moniker from the fact that, instead of feeding directly into your home, they're tied into your local power grid. This one fact makes grid-tie systems much more flexible, and well-suited to homeowners who aren't ready to completely unplug from an existing power grid. As a result, you can choose how large or small your solar panel array is and not have to invest tens of thousands of dollars in a complete solar overhaul.

The drawbacks of grid-tie solar are relatively minimal by comparison, given that there are no hard limits on the size of your system. However, not all utility companies allow residential consumers to resell the power they generate back to the grid, which means your grid-tie system may not pay for itself at all. Before committing to a grid-tie solar installation, check with your power company to find out about their buy-back rates and what you need to do in order to qualify for these programs.

The Challenges of Off-Grid Solar

Unlike a grid-tie system, transitioning to an off-grid solar installation means completely cutting your reliance on commercial power. This means, apart from periodic maintenance, you won't be paying anyone for the electricity that powers your home, and that's money in your pocket. Further, you'll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your home is as green as you can possibly make it, and you're doing something significant to preserve the environment for the future.

The downside to off-grid solar is the fact that you have no back-up source for power, so any surplus power your solar panels generate must be stored for later use. Solar power storage systems are composed of several dozen or more batteries, the cost for which can seriously increase the expense involved in going solar. As a result, you'll need to cut back on the type and amount of electrical appliances in your home, so you can get the most out of your stored power after the sun goes down.

Both approaches work well, but it's up to you to decide which one suits your needs and your region the best. With the right planning, and the right contractor, you'll end up with a solar installation that you're happy with, and which fits your lifestyle. For more information, contact a local solar company, like Jersey Solar