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On-Grid vs. Off-Grid Systems: Key Differences You Should Know About

Would your Bendigo homework best with an on- or off-grid system? Should you go for polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar panels? Should you mount them on your roof, or on the ground? Installing a solar system for your home requires some careful consideration. Solar systems aren’t the most affordable investment you’ll make, so you want to ensure you make the right choices. And when it comes to choosing the ideal setup for solar power Bendigo solar installers can help guide you through these decisions. However, you should still do your due diligence, especially on the topic of whether you’d be better off with an on- or off-grid solar system.

What’s the Difference Between On-Grid and Off-Grid Solar?

off grid solar panels

source: sepco-solarlighting.com

Off-grid solar systems aren’t connected to the national utility grid, while on-grid, also known as grid-tied solar systems are. The type of system you choose will play a crucial role in what equipment you’ll need to buy, what will happen when the grid goes down, your access to electricity, and how you’re billed for what you produce and use.

Access to Electricity

With off-grid solar systems, you’re completely reliant on the energy you harness and store in your batteries to power your home. For that reason, it’s important for off-grid solar systems to be sized properly in order to meet your daily energy demands or even exceed them. When your solar panels harness more energy than your home uses, the energy is stored in batteries for later use.

7-5kw usable solar power

source: agradeps.com.au

On-grid solar systems, on the other hand, allow you to get electricity from the utility grid should you ever need it. Of course, you’ll have to pay for every kilowatt you use, so harnessing enough power on your own should still be your top priority. On the plus side, if you harness too much power, you can sell it to the utility company and make some money.

Excess Production

As briefly aforementioned, based on the size of the solar system you install, how much electricity your home uses and when it uses it, there might be times where your system is producing more than you need. What happens to the energy will depend on your solar setup. Most off-grid systems produce enough energy to power your appliances throughout the day and send any excess energy to the batteries for storage. The excess energy is then used when the system is not producing power, such as throughout the night or during cloudy days. That being said, you need to carefully consider how much energy you need your panels to harvest, and how much battery capacity you need to ensure you get through a few cloudy days. However, keep in mind that solar equipment is expensive, so consider your budget as well.

Similarly to off-grid solar power Bendigo systems, many who opt for an on-grid version want to cover all of their energy usages. As briefly aforementioned, all of the excess energy produced by on-grid systems is sent to the grid, and you get paid in return. This is done through what’s known as net metering.

Power Outages

When your solar system is completely independent of the utility grid, you don’t have to worry about grid-related power outages. Your system will continue working, and you’ll still have electricity. On the other hand, on-grid systems give you electricity whenever you need it, except when the entire grid is down. However, there’s a simple fix to this problem – backup batteries. Backup batteries, or a generator, will ensure you have power until things get back to normal. Of course, you’ll have to pay extra for them.

titan-solar-generator-3000-watts

Electricity Bills

Off-grid systems are completely self-sustainable, so you won’t be taking any electricity from the grid, meaning you won’t have to deal with electric bills. However, they’re more expensive to buy and install, as they require extra equipment like inverters, batteries, etc. On the other hand, you still might have to pay a few bucks for on-grid systems, even if your solar system provides all of your power. These costs include what’s known as delivery charge or service fee, and it’s levied upon you for connecting your home to the grid. In most cases, this is a flat rate that isn’t affected by how much electricity you use.

10kW-Solar-power-installation-example-roof-mounted

source: solarchoice.net.au

Another added cost can be demand charges, which are levied on commercial properties and are typically paid for the electricity used in peak demand times. The peak demand is the time your business uses the most electricity and puts a strain on the utility grid. If that period is during the day, it may be an insignificant cost, as most of the energy will be produced by your own solar system.

However, remember that the excess electricity you produce from your system can also be sold to the utility company, so the expenses can balance themselves out, and you may end up making more than you spend.