Off-Grid vs On-Grid Solar Energy – What are The Major Differences?

Off-grid vs on-grid solar energy is an important topic you should understand before choosing any of them as your commercial or home energy solution.

People need the energy to survive and the earth is filled with many forms of energy. But the renewability and environment friendliness of solar power are what make it a more desirable choice among others.

But even the solar solutions are different variants like above mentioned two. So if you want to select the best among them for your specific environment and personal circumstances, you have to know deeply about them.

Many factors can depend on decision making like budget, usage, etc. But knowing how exactly they are affecting each system is necessary to find a suitable one for you. Partnering with an experienced company for solar panel installation in Perth can guide you to make the right decision.

This article is also meant to give you an idea about both systems and their differences.

  1. Your Access to Electricity
  2. What Happens to Excess Production
  3. What Happens When the Grid Goes Down
  4. How You’re Billed for Electricity

What Is Off-Grid and On-Grid Solar Energy?

An off-grid solar power system is the one that is not connected to the power grid. This is an ideal solution for 100% self-sustaining energy. This system requires a battery backup for store unused power and supply it when it is needed. The battery can be expensive but saves you from the hassle of a power outage due to extreme weather conditions or any other reason.

On the other hand, an on-grid (grid-tied or grid-connected) is the one connected to the utility grid. This is a common system used in residences. You can draw power from the grid in electricity under produced scenarios and export electricity to the grid in over-produced situations. This means your utility grid acts as a battery system.

Depending on your choice among these two, your electricity access, excess energy production, utility bill amount, etc., can vary.

The Differences Between Off-Grid and On-Grid Solar Energy

The detailed analysis of major aspects of the both systems and how they differ is given below.

1. Your Access to Electricity

Electricity Access with Off-Grid Solar

With an off-grid solar system, you will be completely independent of the power grid. You have to only rely on solar energy and the battery storage system. This can be utilized for both homes and businesses.

If you are opting to go for a solar power system that is not tied with the grid and you do not have any other power source, then you probably have two ways of energy.

  • Electricity is generated by solar panels when the sun is shining.
  • Electricity stored in a solar battery system for use after sunset or cloud covers sunlight.

If you do not have a battery installed or other means of energy, then you have no electricity at night and less electricity on cloudy days. So having a battery coupled with the system is the best way to use off-grid.

Electricity Access with On-Grid Solar

If you choose an on-grid system, you will always have electricity from either the solar panels or the power grid. In this system, unless the grid goes down, you will have electricity even when there is no battery and no energy from solar panels.

If your solar energy system is not producing enough energy to power all the equipment, lights, machines, etc., then you can draw power from the grid to meet your electricity demand.

2. What Happens to Excess Production

Excess Production with Off-Grid Solar

Depending on the size of the installed system, the amount of energy generated will vary. Based on your usage, there will be excess energy.

Off-grid solar systems are designed to generate a certain amount of excess energy during the daytime. This electricity will be stored in batteries to store. This energy can be used at night or cloudy weather when the electricity generation is less or zero.

If the weather is not suitable for continuous days, then the system may not have enough energy to meet your needs. But having extra batteries to store more power can offer peace of mind.

The solar batteries can be expensive and you can get it on various price ranges depending on your budget. Purchasing good quality batteries and other components from a top solar company in Perth can solve your electricity storage problems.

Excess Production with On-Grid Solar

People choose an on-grid system to overcome the issue of a power outage when there is no electricity produced from solar panels. Grid-tied systems too can produce excess energy depending on the time of the day you use electricity.

Unlike the off-grid, the excess energy generated will be sent to the grid instead of the battery. For many places in Australia, there are special schemes like in the new DEBS scheme for people to get paid for the energy exported to the grid.

3. What Happens When the Grid Goes Down

Power Outages with Off-Grid Systems

In off-grid, the solar power system is independent of the utility grid. So if a power outage occurs due to any bad weather conditions, then you can still have electricity from the battery storage. After the clear weather appears you can generate more power and store it in the battery.

Power Outages with Grid-Tied Systems

Grid-connected systems get access to electricity whenever you need it. But if the grid goes down, you’ll have to generate energy from solar panels. If that is not possible at that time, then you will have no electricity. To overcome this, you can have a grid-tied system with batteries.

4. How You’re Billed for Electricity

Electricity Bills with an Off-Grid System

The major advantage of an off-grid system is that you don’t have to pay any more on electricity bills. Because you are completely independent on the power grid. The initial set up cost of the system can be a little expensive. But it will be worth it in the long run and ensures a high return on investment.

Electricity Bills with a Grid-Tied System

On-grid solar systems can also have a reduction in their electricity bill amount. But you have to pay money on service charges and other expenses. There may be different prices for electricity depending on the time of the day. Many countries have a higher energy cost during peak usage time and lower costs for the rest of the time.

But in this system, you can get paid for exporting electricity to the grid. This is an advantage over the other PV systems. States like Western Australia have these types of payment schemes. You can get money throughout the day and earn more at peak times. This is to attract more users to use this clean energy.

Depending on your usage, you can export electricity and this can reduce your utility costs.

Hybrid Solar Energy Systems

A hybrid solar energy system is the one that has the characteristics of both grid-connected and off-grid PV systems. It is connected to the grid and at the same time, it has a battery bank to store excess energy. It can be more expensive due to the combined cost of batteries and grid-tied connections. The main goal of hybrid solutions is to reduce the peak energy consumption during the daytime.

Conclusion

While there are many differences between the off-grid and on-grid solar systems, you can choose the suitable one depending on your usage. Since both systems are supported by solar energy, they can be good for the environment and save money on your electricity bills. Also, both systems have their own unique advantages. If you are in Perth, hiring reputable solar installers in Perth can help you decide which system is appropriate for your requirement.

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