Off-Grid vs. Grid-Tied: Which is Right for You?
Transitioning to solar power can be a daunting task. Wading through the wide range of options, terminology, and technologies can seem insurmountable – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Today, we’ll cover one of the most important decision you will face: off-grid, hybrid, or grid-tied systems.
Each system has its own pros and cons, and your decision will depend on your unique needs. Maybe you’re looking for energy independence, or maybe you’re looking to decrease your carbon footprint, or maybe you have another motivation for pursuing renewable energy options. Understanding your needs will help you solve the question of whether an off-grid or grid-tied system is right for you.
Defining our Terms
Before we dive into the pros and cons of each system, it is important to define our terms. Especially in a specialized field like solar power. You could write a book on each of these systems, and leave things unsaid. But here’s the nutshell version of what we’re talking about:
- Grid-Tied: This is the most common type of solar system. A grid-tied system is directly connected to the existing electrical grid so that your needs are met by a combination of traditional methods and your solar supplement.
- Off-Grid: These systems are constructed to be entirely independent of the electrical grid. They are less common than grid-tied and require all of your energy needs to be met from on-site sources.
While each of these systems has its own pros and cons, they all offer the benefits of renewable energy (just to varying degrees).
Pros and Cons
Choosing the right solar system for your home will depend on your goals and needs, so ultimate decision will be unique to you. But we’ll try to keep a range of goals in mind as we talk about each system.
- A grid-tied system is the easiest and cheapest to install
- You can produce less than you use
- Excess production is fed back into the grid (and earns you credits on your utility bill)
- You are still dependent on a vulnerable external power supply
- Unaffected by power outages
- Possible in remote and rural locations
- Total control over the environmental impact of your electricity needs
- Off-grid systems are more complex
What is Right for You?
Deciding between a grid-tied or off-grid system will come down to your needs and goals. If you are looking for a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint, then consider a grid-tied system. But off-grid is a great choice if you’re looking to supply power to a remote location or gain total energy independence.
There is also the option of running a hybrid system. In a hybrid, you have all the components of an off-grid system including a bank of deep-cycle batteries. This allows you to fully rely on your solar system when everything is functioning properly. But in the effect of a failure, you have back-up access to the traditional power grid.
Off-Grid Solar Solutions
At Mountain Power Solutions, we specialize in designing, installing, and maintaining off-grid solar systems. But we love all types of solar power. If you are considering your options, we’d love to talk with you about how we can help you reach energy independence. Or even just help point you in the right direction to achieve your solar goals. Contact us today to see how we can help!