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What is the difference between Off-Grid and On-Grid Solar Energy?

Difference #1: Your Access to Electricity

 Electricity Access with Off-Grid Solar

With an off-grid solar system, you’re completely reliant on the sun and energy stored in batteries to power your home or business.

If you opt for a solar system that is not tied to the electric grid and you do not have a generator, you will only have electricity at two points:

  1. When the sun is shining and your solar system is producing electricity.
  2. When you’re pulling electricity previously generated by your solar system from a solar storage device, like batteries.

If you do not have batteries or a means to store your energy, you will have less or no electricity when it’s cloudy, and you will not have electricity at night.

 

With an off-grid system, you will not have access to extra electricity if you need it. What you are producing and what you have stored is all that’s there to power your equipment.

 

Electricity Access with On-Grid Solar

If you decide to install an on-grid solar system, you will always have access to electricity (unless the grid goes down), whether or not your solar system is producing or if you have batteries.

 

If your system is not producing any electricity or not producing enough electricity to power the devices, lights, machines, etc. that you’re using, you can pull energy from the utility grid to supplement it. This ensures you always have enough electricity for what you need.

 

Difference #2: What Happens to Excess Production

Excess Production with Off-Grid Solar

Depending on the size of the system you install, how much electricity you use, and when you use that electricity, there will likely be times when your system is producing more electricity than you’re using. What happens to this excess energy depends on the equipment you install.

 

Most off-grid solar systems are designed to produce a certain amount of “extra” electricity in the daytime, which is sent to batteries for storage. The energy stored in those batteries can then be accessed when the system is not producing, like at night or during cloudy weather.

 

Depending on your energy goals, systems can be sized to produce enough excess electricity in the daytime to cover your entire energy usage around-the-clock.

 

However, despite even the best and most accurate estimates, the weather is unpredictable. If you experience abnormally cloudy weather several days in a row, your system may not be able to produce enough electricity to charge the batteries and fulfill all your needs.

 

Excess Production with On-Grid Solar

Just like off-grid solar systems, many who choose to install an on-grid solar system want to cover 100% or nearly 100% of their energy usage. This can be achieved with on-grid systems as well.

Depending on the time of day you use electricity, your solar system can produce excess energy. Instead of sending it to batteries as you would in an off-grid system, you can send it to the grid and you will be compensated for that electricity.

 

Difference #3: What happens when the Grid Goes Down

Power outages with Off-Grid Systems

Your solar system is working independently from the power grid. If there’s a bad storm or event that knocks out the power, your solar system can continue operating. You won’t notice changes in your service or access to electricity.

 

Power outages with Grid-Tied Systems

By connecting to the grid, you get access to electricity whenever you need it. However, you’re also subject to some rules. If you have a grid-tied solar system and the grid goes down, you will not have electricity, unless you opt for a grid-tied solar system with battery backup.

 

Why is this? This is for the safety of utility workers who are fixing the power lines.

 

Difference #4: How you are billed for electricity?

 

Electricity Bills with an Off-Grid System

If your PV system is not tied to a grid, you won’t receive an electric bill at all. However, even with no electric bill, off-grid systems are often more expensive because of the additional equipment like batteries that are needed to make it viable.

 

Electricity Bills with a Grid-Tied System

If you opt for a grid-tied system, you could still see a few minimal charges on your electricity bill, even if your solar system provides 100% of your electricity.

 

One type of charge you may continue to see is the service fee or delivery charge. This is the cost levied on customers for connecting their home or business to the grid. For many utilities, this fee is a flat rate that is not impacted by how much electricity you use.

This expertise comes from Bengal Sun Solar (I) Pvt Ltd, a reputable solar power plant manufacture in West Bengal and also the best on grid solar panel manufacturers in Kolkata.

 

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