The sun is truly a spectacular thing — it can be harnessed to power almost anything in its rays’ reach. Solar energy has the potential to provide clean, inexpensive energy for your home and lower the cost of your energy bills over time, but depending on your needs, it’s hardly a one-size-fits-all investment.
There are three types of solar power systems for your property: grid-tied, grid-tied with storage, and off-grid solar systems. Each has its own unique benefits and pitfalls. Let’s explore which one could be best for you and your home.
Most residential systems tend to be grid-tied. These systems are connected to your home wiring and the electrical grid. When the sun is shining, energy is pulled from the solar panels. When it’s not, energy is pulled from the grid. This means that you don’t have to rely on solar panels to meet all of your electrical needs.
Grid-tied systems are the most cost-effective of the systems because they are the least expensive type and are easy to install. When you’re connected to the grid, you can use net metering to your benefit by selling your excess general electricity for credits on your electricity bill — all while saving the environment!
Grid-tied with storage
This type of solar system has all the same features as the regular grid-tied option but also allows for energy storage or solar batteries. When the sun sets and energy can’t be pulled from the panels, the system will pull from your solar battery rather than pulling from the grid. This means that you can power your home at night with your own free solar energy, rather than purchasing grid power if you need it.
Unlike the first option, grid-tied with storage allows you to maintain power even during a blackout when the grid would stop working. It costs a little more to install upfront because of the extra cost of batteries but could be worth it in a power emergency. The good news is that the cost of solar batteries is continuing to fall, so systems with energy storage are still cost-effective and appealing.
For more remote properties without close proximity or easy access to utility lines, you may save the most with an off-grid system. With the help of photovoltaic panels and solar batteries, you don’t need an electric grid at all! The systems are larger, so they can store more energy to run independently. And when you aren’t surrounded by as many trees or interruptions, you’ll be able to collect and save more energy.
Because this system is not connected to a grid, the incentives and rebates associated with a grid-tied system are unavailable. In the event of a power outage, you’d need to be prepared with enough energy stored up, because you won’t have access to the grid to get more if you need it. The specialized equipment involved in the installation process makes off-grid systems the most costly to install — but it could be well worth it if there are no other neighbors around you.
Want to learn more about solar energy?
You can visit energy.gov to learn more about the various types of solar power systems and more.
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