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3 Types of Residential Solar Power Systems - Comparison

3 Types of Residential Solar Power Systems - Comparison

Short on Time? Here’s The Article Summary

When selecting a solar power system for your home, you have three main options: a grid inter-tied system, a grid inter-tied system with a battery backup, or a fully off-grid system. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Grid-tied systems are the least expensive and can sell surplus power back to the grid, but they cannot operate during grid outages.

Hybrid systems offer flexibility with battery backup but are complex and expensive. Off-grid systems provide complete independence but require a significant initial investment and careful maintenance of batteries. Consider your power needs and budget when choosing the right system for your home.

Introduction

When it comes to choosing a solar power system for your home’s electricity needs, you have three main options – a grid inter-tied system, a grid inter-tied system with a battery backup, or a fully off-grid system.

To help you make an informed decision and select the right solar system for your particular needs, we will go over the three types in detail. We will also list some of the advantages and disadvantages of choosing each type. From there, we will even recommend some products you can use to create your own solar system.

By going over the strengths and weaknesses of each type, you will be able to choose the right system that best meets your green energy needs.

If you are unsure of your own power needs, you can always read through our Ultimate Off-Grid Solar Watt Hour Guide, which provides you with a handy calculator and can help you learn how large your solar system will need to be.

Grid-Tied Solar Power Systems

In simple terms, a grid-tied solar power system is a residential solar power setup that is connected to a traditional electricity utility grid. A straightforward grid-tied system works without any sort of battery backup or power bank, which means the system has no way of storing the electricity it generates.

As with any solar power setup, a grid-tied system uses solar panels to convert sunlight into useable electricity; however, because the setup has no way of storing this electricity, it is either used directly, or fed into the utility grid. If the household requires more electricity than the solar system is capable of generating, or if they need to use electricity when the sun is down, power is drawn from the grid.

When solar power is fed into the grid, the homeowner will receive a credit for that amount, which can be used to reduce their monthly electricity bills. If the solar power system is large enough to exceed the homeowner’s electricity needs, this credit could even take the form of a cash rebate to cover the excess.

Pros:

  • Grid-tied systems tend to be the least expensive option, as they do not require expensive batteries. Requiring less equipment also means they are easier to install than other options
  • Grid-tied systems can use net metering to sell surplus power to the local utility company at full retail rate, which means you can greatly reduce the cost of your monthly electricity bills
  • Grid-tied systems are highly reliable, which is partially due to the fact that they have the fewest number of points that could potentially fail
  • You can still pull electricity from the grid when needed, so you do not need a solar system that is large enough to meet your full energy needs

Cons:

  • Since grid-tied systems operate as part of a two-way relationship with a traditional electricity grid, they cannot run during grid power outages. Grid-tied systems lack battery storage, so you have no backup power in the event of a blackout or temporary grid failure

If you are looking for an affordable and effective power inverter for your grid-tied solar power system, consider the Solis Solar 3.6kW Inverter. It offers outstanding efficiency and features dual MPPT solar charge controllers.

Grid-Tied Solar Power Systems with a Battery Backup

Grid-tied solar power systems that also feature a battery backup are sometimes known as hybrid systems, or solar-plus-storage systems. These systems function much the same as a strict grid-tied system, but they include a battery, which allows the homeowner to store solar electricity to be used during peak hours, or in the event of a grid failure.

These systems offer a great deal of flexibility, as the homeowner can choose to feed their solar electricity back into the grid for credit, or store it within their storage bank. When the solar panels are overproducing and generating more electricity than the homeowner needs, the excess can be stored, or sold.

As you would suspect, hybrid systems allow homeowners to be less grid-reliant and offer the flexibility of choosing when to feed solar energy into the grid. For homeowners that are not prepared to go completely off the grid, a hybrid system offers somewhat of a middle ground between a grid-tied system and an off-grid system.

Pros:

  • Grid-tied solar systems that feature a battery backup offer a great degree of flexibility
  • The battery bank can be used to cover short-term power needs in the event of a blackout or grid failure
  • Hybrid systems allow homeowners to strategically plan around peak-hour pricing. When utility companies charge the highest electricity rates, the homeowner can draw power from the battery bank and avoid these high prices

Cons:

  • Battery banks can be one of the most expensive components of a solar system and they have a tendency to lose storage capacity over time
  • Hybrid systems are fairly complex, which means they are more difficult to install and can be more susceptible to failure than simpler solar setups

If you are interested in setting up a hybrid solar power system, consider the Sol-Ark All-in-One Hybrid Inverter. It offers every feature you would need for an efficient hybrid solar system and is available at an affordable price.

Off-Grid Solar Power Systems

As the name suggests, an off-grid solar power system uses a battery to store enough power to meet the full needs of a household. Off-grid systems are not connected to any sort of electricity grid, so they offer independence and the freedom that comes from generating your own electricity. If you are a small-home owner, check our another blog Off Grid Solar Power Systems for Small Homes.

However, to assemble a proper system that meets your full electricity needs throughout the entire year, you need a significant solar array and a high-capacity solar battery bank. Have a look at our collection of deep cycle solar batteries. And feel free to read our next blog What Size Solar Panel is Needed to Charge a 12V Battery?

In some cases, those that run fully off-grid solar power systems will pair their solar setup with a gasoline power generator, which can be used in emergencies and other situations where the solar setup does not meet the homeowner’s full power requirements.

Off-grid solar systems can also be used on a smaller scale to meet specific electricity needs, such as running the heating and filtration system for a pool.

Pros:

  • Off-grid systems offer complete independence from the electricity grid
  • They can be used to meet electricity needs in remote locations where access to a traditional electricity grid is limited
  • Since they strictly use solar energy, they are a completely green and eco-friendly power system

Cons:

  • Since they require expensive batteries and off-grid solar inverters, they tend to be expensive to assemble and install. Batteries also require maintenance and degrade over time
  • Once the battery bank has been fully charged, surplus energy cannot be stored and could potentially go to waste
  • They do not have the security of tapping into the electricity grid if the solar power system cannot meet electricity demands

If you are planning on building your own off-grid solar power system, you will need a reliable power inverter. Consider the SunGold 12,000W Split Phase Off-Grid Pure Sine Wave Inverter. It allows you to simply connect your power bank to your panels and immediately start generating your own solar electricity. Find solar connectors guide. 

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