As the name implies, grid-tied solar means the solar system is connected to the electrical grid, and conversely off-grid solar means the solar system is not connected to the grid. But what does that mean for you?
Grid-Tied Solar System
Most of the solar systems that are currently installed fall into the grid-tied category. These solar systems are directly tied into the existing electrical grid and require the electrical grid to be running for the solar system to produce electricity.
- The cost tends to be cheaper than an off-grid system, due to not needing batteries and other components.
- Net Metering is a billing mechanism that allows the electricity generated by a solar system to offset the electricity used from the grid.
- In some geographic areas, SREC’s also benefit the owner of a grid-tied solar system by letting the owner receive extra income through selling the SREC’s their solar system produces.
- When the electrical grid ‘goes down’, a grid-tied system will not produce any electricity.
Off-Grid Solar System
Many people like the idea of installing an off-grid solar system because of the independence and the stability the solar system will bring to their lives. In theory, an off-grid solar system will produce non-stop energy for 30+ years.
- Off-grid systems provide independence from the electrical grid.
- The cost can be anywhere from 70% to 100% higher than a grid-tied solar system.
- Batteries and other components are needed to consistently deliver electricity throughout the day and night.
For most people, a grid-tied solar system is a solid investment that provides security and predictability for their business, farm or home. The payback for a grid-tied solar system is shorter and there are fewer components that could need to be replaced in the future.
An off-grid solar system is a good option for some cabins and more isolated areas, however at this time, off-grid systems struggle to compete with the payback and ROI of a grid-tied system.