This post is part of a series on installing solar panels for your home. Check out the rest of the series.
Before you decide which home solar power system is right for you, you have to consider your available sunlight, required system size, economics, and the local permits you’ll be required to have.
First, you have to assess your site to see if it would provide enough solar energy to meet your electricity needs, both economically and efficiently.
You have to consider the geographic orientation and tilt of your panels as both can affect your Photovoltaic (PV) system’s performance.
Next, assess your energy consumption as this would help you become more energy efficient, reduce the size of your PV system, and lower the amount of capital needed in addition to operating costs.
Lastly, you have to choose between stand-alone off-grid solar systems or one that’s grid-connected. Some utility companies will even pay you for unused electricity you put into the grid, so this is also something worth investigating.
To help you meet your energy needs, the following information will help define the differences between each residential solar power system available on the market.
Off Grid Solar Power Systems
An off-grid residential system is completely disconnected from a traditional power grid. It utilizes batteries that balance periods of excess production and excess demands. A generator is usually added to the system as a protection against shortfalls when batteries are discharged and the solar system cannot meet unusual energy demands.
An off-grid system is typically used for instances when you live in a remote place where it is more cost effective than extending a power line to a grid. It could also be used when you consider using a hybrid system that utilizes a PV system and a wind electric system. Off grids are also applicable if you only need a minimal amount of power.
Grid Inter-Tied Systems
This solar power system is connected to a home and traditional electric utility grid. It allows homeowners to get power from home electric systems or utility grids. There is a seamless switch between the residential system and the grid. One of its advantages is its ability to balance the system’s energy production and home power requirements. For example, the excess power produced can be sold back to the utility through a process called Net Metering.
Net Metering is considered to be the best arrangement since the power provider pays you the retail price for the electricity you feed into the grid. It can also draw power from the utility grid if it does not produce sufficient power. It is considered to be the lowest cost because it requires fewer components.
Grid Inter-Tied Systems With Battery Back-Up
Similar to the grid inter-tied systems, it is also connected to traditional utility power grid but has an additional battery backup to the system. One of its benefits is it enables system to balance production and demand and at the same time, protecting against power outages.
Its solar energy production depends on available sunlight; if there is abundant energy production and it exceeds demands, the excess power can charge the batteries which functions as the storage for electricity. In instances when there is less production, the batteries make up for the shortfalls.
However, there is also a disadvantage with this kind of system. The constant charging and discharging of the battery reduces the overall efficiency of the system. Since this system is also more complicated to design and install, it is more expensive.
When choosing the right solar power system for your home, you should probably review your requirements with a solar energy system installation professional.
They can help you navigate your options, providing detailed choices of specific systems that best match your needs.
Many homeowners prefer a PV system because of their environmental benefits and energy independence, but what do you think? Let us know in the comments!