Grid-Tied Solar vs. Off-Grid Power — Weighing the Pros & Cons
When you’re shopping for a solar power system, you have to make a lot of decisions. One of the most important is whether to choose grid-tied solar, an off-grid system or a hybrid photovoltaic system.
Pros and Cons of Grid-Tied Solar Power
With a grid-tied photovoltaic array, you won’t have to conserve energy or change your lifestyle. You can live as you always have, as the municipal power supply is there for additional electricity when you need it.
Also, if you opt for a grid-connected solar array, you don’t have to install an array large enough to supply all of your household electricity. You can install the size that fits your budget now, then expand later.
On the flip side, in states that offer net metering, you may be eligible for credit from the utility company for any excess energy your solar array produces.
Many homeowners choose to connect their photovoltaic systems to the grid because of cost. Off-grid solar power systems require additional components, so the investment is more.
The biggest drawback, however, is that a grid-tied solar energy system will keep you yoked to the utility company. And if your system is connected to the municipal power supply, it won’t operate if the power goes out.
Pros and Cons of Off-Grid Solar Power
Besides the cost savings, energy independence is the most compelling argument for installing an off-grid solar power system. You won’t be subject to the ever-increasing rates and policies of the utility company, and you won’t be left in the dark in the event of a blackout.
If you want to power a rural home with solar energy, going off-grid probably makes good financial sense. In isolated areas, investing in this type of photovoltaic array is often cheaper than paying to extend the utility lines to your property.
The downside to this type of photovoltaic power is the extra expense for those who already have public utilities. In addition, you may have to think more about energy efficiency if you can’t install a system large enough to meet all your power needs.
Hybrid Solar Power Systems Offer the Best of Both Worlds
A hybrid photovoltaic system may be the best answer to this conundrum. With a hybrid system, your solar array is connected to the municipal power lines, but it also has a battery storage bank. The battery capacity doesn’t need to be as large as an off-grid solar array would need, so the added cost can be easier to manage.
Many Intermountain West homeowners favor hybrid solar power because it allows them to use utility power when necessary, but also provides a supply of electricity for when the power goes out. Installing a hybrid system is a great way to prepare for emergencies and natural disasters.
Ultimately, the right system configuration for your home will depend on your goals, budget and installation considerations. The experts at Intermountain Wind & Solar can help you weigh the options and choose the best one for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn more about off-grid and grid-tied solar energy options.