Solar electrical system types

Renewable Energy Systems come in many shapes and sizes. Some are powered by solar panels; others by wind or water, or a combination of these. Some are grid-connected; others are independent of utility power lines.

Which is right for you? Decide What Kind of System You Need

What is your primary reason for adding solar: saving money on electricity OR being independent of the utility company?

  1. Grid-tie systems are great for lowering your electrical bill, but require a connection to the utility company.
  2. Off-grid systems allow you to live and work with electricity in areas where utility power is either unavailable or too expensive to bring in. Off-grid is more about independence, but by living within your means, financially and energy-wise, you do save money.
  3. Grid-tie systems with battery backup allow the best of both of the above, but are more expensive to to start with.
  4. Automatic Hybrid Off-grid solar system
    

The electricity bill is constantly increasing year after year. You need to get some alternative power source before you end up losing all the money because of exaggerated electricity bills. Solar power systems, wind turbine, hydropower systems, geothermal power systems are best examples of the natural source of energy.

However, your resources are limited to acquire such alternative power sources.

Nevertheless, there is a natural source of power that is made accessible for everyone. The solar panel power system and it is already out on the market. There are three types of solar systems, grid-tied, off-grid, and hybrid systems, all of these have different methods of producing electricity.

Let’s find out what suits your situation best.

Grid-Tied Solar System

Most of the homeowners prefer to use the grid-tied solar system because of the cost efficiency it gives to them. And, because it is tied to the utility grid, homeowners experience cheaper cost on installation, rates, and equipment.

The utility grid also serves as the storage of energy which makes it more convenient than conventional batteries.

The grid-tied solar system uses, grid-tie inverter and microinverter to produce a more efficient energy consumption and storage. Grid-tie inverter is the one that regulates the flow of the voltage and current received from the panels.

The microinverter, on the other hand, provides you more energy even if there are shady portions of the panels.

Grid Inter-tied systems are also connected to the utility power grid. This enables the homeowners to draw from the grid during periods of excess demand and to sell power to the grid when there is excess production.

While grid inter-tied systems offer more flexibility, they are not without disadvantages. Charging and discharging batteries reduces the overall efficiency of the system and these systems are more complex to design and install and therefore more expensive

Off-Grid Solar System

The off-grid solar system is the opposite of grid-tied solar system because it is not attached to the utility grid. The equipment required for the off-grid system are the off-grid inverter, DC disconnect, battery banks, solar charge and a generator.

The good things to know about the off-grid system are cost-saving and self-sufficient. It is cost-saving because you are not paying for the connection of the power lines. Transmissions can be a bit expensive if you’re living miles away from the urban. And, the off-grid system can be your savior.

The second advantage is that the system can sustain its power, because of the battery banks and the generator. If there is a power outage from the utility company, your house can support its electrical supply because you have an independent power source.

The only disadvantage of this system is that the cost of power banks can be expensive. Other than that, if there are leaks in the batteries, all those stored energies will be wasted. It would again cost you a lot of money in repairing the power banks.

An off-grid residential system is completely disconnected from the traditional electric power grid. Without a connection to the utility grid, batteries are essential to balance periods of excess production and excess demand.

To protect against shortfalls of power when the solar system is under-producing and the batteries are discharged, an electric generator is usually added to the system. The generator is used as a power source during periods of prolonged excess production or unusual demand.

Backup AC System

A backup AC solar electric system will usually have a photovoltaic (PV) array of ten or more modules, a battery bank, and one or more inverters. The utility will backup the solar and run the loads when available and needed. If utility power fails, the power from the battery bank is available to the system.

Hybrid Solar System

This type of solar system is a combination of the grid-tied and off-grid solar system. It can either be an off-grid with utility line or a grid-tied with backup batteries.

The best thing about the hybrid solar system is that it is cheaper than your conventional solar systems. The new battery based grid-tie inverter has a lot of benefits to offer to homeowners.

It allows the smart solar system to store excess energies and at the same time outputting energies to the other utility grid.

And, because of that you are not just saving energy you are also collecting payment for the power you send to the utility grid.

A solar hybrid system stores your excess solar energy and can also provide back-up power during a blackout. This is perfect for home owners although for the majority of businesses which operate during the daylight hours, a common grid-feed solar system is still the most economical choice.

Hybrid solar systems enable you to store solar energy and use it when you’re home during the evening when the cost of electricity is typically at the peak rate.

The ability to store and use your solar energy when desired is referred to as self-use or self-consumption. It works in the same way as an off-grid power system but the battery capacity required is far less, usually just enough to cover peak consumption (8 hours or less) as opposed to 3-5 days with a typical off-grid system.

Solar Hybrid Advantages

Stores solar or low cost (off-peak) electricity.
Allows use of solar energy during peak times (self-use or load-shifting)
Power available during a grid outage or blackout – UPS function
Enables advanced energy management (ie. peak shaving)
Enables energy independence
Reduces power consumption from the grid (reduced demand)

Solar Hybrid Disadvantages

Higher cost than grid-feed solar. Mainly due to the high cost of batteries.
More complex installation requires more room and higher install cost.
Battery life of 7-15 years.
May limit how many appliances you can run at the same time (depending on the type of hybrid inverter and its capability)

Conclusion

There are three main types of residential solar electric power systems: grid inter-tied; grid inter-tied with battery backup; and off-grid. These three broad types vary in how closely connected they are to the traditional power utility infrastructure, known as the grid. Each type has strengths that determine how suited they are to your needs.

On-grid, standalone or solar hybrid system, the choice is yours. After comparing the pros and cons of various solar power systems, you can decide which option serves your purposes and is the best for you!