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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 that the electrical grid be running for the solar system to produce electricity. When the grid ‘goes down,’ the solar system will not produce any electricity. To read more about why this is the case for grid-tied solar system, read this blog.

Net metering and receiving solar renewable energy certificates (SREC’s) are the main two benefit of having a grid-tied solar system in comparison to an off-grid solar system. Net metering is a billing mechanism recognized by many utilities that allows the electricity generated by a solar system to offset the consumption of electrical-grid generated electric. To read more about net metering, click here.

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. An SREC (Solar Renewable Energy Certificate) is minted for every MWh (1,000 kWh’s) generated from a solar project. An SREC represents the environmental benefit of solar,and is completely separate from electric savings and other benefits of solar. Read more about SREC’s here.

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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 without an increase in electric rates.

However, the extra cost associated with an off-grid solar system deters many people from installing one. The cost difference can be anywhere from 70% -100% higher than a grid-tied solar system. The cost is higher because batteries and other components are needed to consistently deliver electricity throughout the day and night. In comparison, grid-tied solar systems do not require batteries in order to operate. In addition, an off-grid solar system is not eligible for net-metering or SREC’s and therefore has a longer payback period.

Conclusion

For most people, a grid-tied solar system is the key to long-term security and providing a good investment option for their business, farm or home. The payback for a grid-tied solar system is shorter and there are fewer components that may need to be replaced in the future. An off-grid solar system may be a better option for cabins or locations that are in an isolated area, however at this time off-grid systems cannot compete with the payback or return on investment that a grid-tied solar system brings.

We do not service or install off-grid solar systems at this time, however with battery technology improvements, this may be an option in the future.

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