Living On Grid And Off Grid With Solar Power Explained - All You Need To Know

on grid off grid explanation

There are some terms, such as on grid and off grid, maybe, that are unique to the world of solar energy, and, if you're just curious about that particular world or you're starting out on the rewarding journey of learning as much about solar as possible with a view to investing in this incredible technology, you may be wondering just what the heck some of these terms mean.


The Guilty Parties

And here are a few of those culprits that may have had you pulling your hair out, and thinking, "What Goes On?", to the point that it's "driving you mad"....

Step forward - ON GRID; OFF GRID, and, last but not least and maybe most sinister of all, the legendary GRID-TIED!

Different Systems For Different Situations

First, we should probably explain just what a grid is. A grid is a network that supplies electricity to consumers. Nothing too complicated - it's the vehicle which supplies electricity to businesses and residences.

All these terms (on grid and off grid and grid-tied) refer to various solar electric system configurations and their relationship to the local utility grid. There are benefits to both on grid and off grid, and which you choose depends on your specific set of circumstances, but, if you're living miles from your nearest local utility grid, off grid may be your only option.

Let's cover them individually:

1) On Grid

An on grid solar electric, or photovoltaic, system feeds electricity directly into the grid, offsetting the amount of electricity supplied by the grid. If the amount of electricity produced by the system is greater than the amount being used by the business or residence, the excess is fed into the grid resulting in the account being credited by the amount fed in, causing the grid to act as a sort of electrical bank.

Conversely, when the photovoltaic (PV) system is producing less electricity than the consumer is using (such as at nighttime), the grid makes up the shortfall, debiting the consumer's account.

The benefit of an on grid system is that the consumer will reduce their electricity bill while still having the grid as a backup supply. Of course, in the event of a blackout, unless the consumer has a battery bank to use as a backup supply, they'll be left without power if the PV system isn't producing any.

This is generally the cheapest type of system to install, unless a battery bank is included as part of the system.

2) Off Grid

An off grid system has no connection to the grid whatsoever and must rely on a PV system for its electricity supply, and, since there is no grid to fall back on at nighttime or when the solar panels aren't producing sufficient power to supply the consumer's needs, a battery bank is used to store excess power for later use when the supply from the solar panels is insufficient.

For this reason, an off grid system tends to be more expensive simply due to the amount of equipment needed to build such a system. In addition, most off grid users also use a backup generator in case of emergency, adding further to the cost of an off-grid system.

3) Grid-Tied

Actually, this, along with grid-intertied, is another term for on grid, so please refer back to that for an explanation.

So, there you go - the mysteries of the grid explained, on grid and off grid and otherwise. We hope you found this to be helpful and that the grid and its various applications where PV systems are concerned are mysteries no more.

And just remember, living with solar power both on grid and off grid is great for you, great for your family and great for the environment.

Let the grid times roll!

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