If you are reading this you are researching or getting a solar panel system for your home or commercial solar panels. Within your research there’s also a huge probability that you ran into the terms “off the grid or off-grid and solar power systems” while researching the different types of solar energy options on the internet.
If you don’t fully understand what an off-grid solar PV system we have put together this short article containing all of the essentials.
To help you better understand what an off-grid system is, let’s define what an on-grid system is first.
What Is an On-Grid System?
On-grid, also known as a grid-feed or grid-tie solar system, is a solar PV system that is tied to the system of your local utility company and only generates power when the utility power grid is available. Most residential homes use this type of system because with it you have the option to send excess energy back to your grid’s power company, enabling the residential property owners to build credit that can be cashed out at the end of the year.
On the other hand, an off-grid solar PV system is not connected to your grid’s utility company or power system. This means that your energy use is 100% self-sustaining and your energy needs are 100% covered, given that you have enough battery capacity to handle your home’s requirements. Since it is not connected to the electricity grid, this system comes with battery storage units where you can store power for immediate and future uses.
However, one of the downsides of an off-grid system is that your overall costs with it are much higher than with an on-grid system, as you’ll be needing to buy expensive inverters and batteries to complete your off-grid setup.
Fortunately battery costs are going down each year, so the market for off-grid solar PV systems have been steadily increasing over time.
Do you understand now why they call it an off-grid system? Good.
Now, let’s quickly learn about two of the off-grid systems’ main components: the battery bank and the backup generator.
- Battery Bank
Unlike on-grid systems that send excess energy back to the grid, off-grid systems send any excess power to the battery bank, which stops receiving energy once it is full. During cloudy days or night time, when your solar energy system is not working, the batteries are the ones that will supply power to your appliances. As earlier mentioned, it will definitely make you energy self-sufficient.
- Backup Generator
Whenever the weather is unforgiving for long periods of time and your batteries are running low, the backup generator is responsible for providing power to your home. In order for the backup generator to perform excellently, you should get an adequate-sized gen-set that is based on your home’s energy requirements.
When Is an Off-Grid System the Ideal Solar Power Option?
Because of how an off-grid solar PV system works, it’s ideal to be used on homes located in remote areas where there is zero access to electricity, or where power lines are somewhat far from the property. So if you own a home or a farm that is slightly isolated from civilisation and has no source of power nearby, then going for an off-grid system is the way to go for your energy needs.
But if you really want to go off the grid despite having a nearby power grid to connect to, it is also a good option due to the advantages that this type of solar PV system presents, including zero monthly electricity costs, immunity to grid-tied blackouts or power failures, and total energy self-sufficiency.