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3 Types of Residential Solar Electric Power Systems

May 19, 2024

As the costs and the electricity demand keep rising, many people worldwide are looking for alternative energy sources. Solar energy has recently become a widespread energy source because of its improving efficiency and low costs.

Solar power systems usually include wiring, photovoltaic panels, and inverters. But, solar power systems can be set in various types to provide inexpensive and clean energy. Each type of solar system installation comes with its unique benefits.

The most common type of solar system is the grid-tied solar system. Other types of solar systems include off-grid solar systems and hybrid solar systems. If you want to go solar energy and you do not know the best type of solar system to fit your family, you need to seek help from a solar system installation expert to help you.

  1. Grid-Tied Solar System

On-grid is the widely and commonly used solar system in business and residential areas in the US. As the name implies, the energy system is connected to your residential area wiring and the electricity grid. The system does not use batteries. Instead, it uses either micro inverters or solar inverters connected to the electricity grid. The excess solar power you generate will be exported to the primary electricity grid and receive credit for the exported power energy.

Unlike other solar energy systems, on-grid systems do not generate energy or function during blackouts because of safety measures. Note that blackouts occur mainly once the electricity grid has problems. For example, when the inverter feeds electricity to the damaged grid, the people's lives repairing the damages would be at risk.

You can also add batteries to the on-grid solar system later if necessary. One of the popular types of batteries you can add to the grid system is the Tesla Powerwall 2. After the electricity reaches the systems switchboard, this will happen in on-grid solar systems. Before you go grid tied to the solar system, you must work with a solar energy expert to help you fix the solar panels appropriately. The expert will also ensure that all the components are well fitted to avoid damage and malfunction.

The Equipment and Components in a Grid-Tied Solar Energy System

The equipment required in a grid-tied solar system differs from those in off-grid and hybrid. However, many components are common in the three solar energy systems. A standard tied grid solar system had the following essential components:

The meter

As the homeowner, you will be required to replace the initial power meter with the one compatible with net metering. The excess energy will run through the system meter. The meter will then calculate the amount of power you're importing or exporting. The metering system works in different ways in US states and worldwide. The meter measures the electricity you export to the electricity grid in many cases. However, the meter will measure both imported and exported solar energy in California. Also, the consumer receives a credit at the end of the month or annually. Consult your local utility company to determine what net metering option you have.

The Electricity Grid and a Grid-Tie Inverter

Another component of grid-tied solar systems is the inverter and electricity grid. After you generate excess energy, our solar system will send the energy to the electricity grid where other consumers can use it. If your solar system is not generating energy or operating or consuming more solar energy, you will be importing solar energy from the electricity grid. Alternatively, the grid-tie inverter will regulate the current received by the solar panels. The inverter will convert the direct currents from the solar system to alternating currents.

The Advantages of a Grid-Tied Solar System

The grid-tied solar system generates energy from the solar and converts it into electricity. Many homeowners enjoy a variety of benefits from this type of solar system. The following are the potential benefits you will enjoy once you switch to a grid-tied solar system:

  • Save Your Money

One of the main benefits of an on-grid solar system is that you will save money. A grid-tied solar system will enable you to save much money with the solar system panels through net metering, efficiency rates, lower installation costs, and lower equipment costs. For example, when you go off-grid solar system, you will have to purchase batteries, maintenance costs, and other stand-alone equipment. Generally, grid-tied solar systems are cheap to install and maintain.

  • The Utility Grid Can Work as a Battery

Sometimes you can store electricity in other forms like chemical energy. The electricity grid might function as a battery in many ways without replacement and maintenance. With conventional battery systems, more money and energy go to waste. For example, Lead-acid batteries commonly used in the solar system have around 90% storage efficiency. Also, the battery's performance degrades with time. In addition, when your grid-tied solar energy stops producing electricity, the system has backup power.

  • Reliability and Flexibility

Grid-tied solar systems are simple and have no downtimes. With this type of solar system, you have the opportunity to design the system with alternative utility sources and energy sources. Therefore you may change the system to achieve your future needs. But, it would help if you worked with a well-skilled solar energy expert.

  1. Off-Grid Solar System

The second type of residential solar system is the off-grid solar system. As the name implies, an off-grid solar system is not connected to the electricity grid. Therefore they require storage(battery). The manufacturers design the solar system appropriately to ensure they produce energy annually. Also, they should have sufficient battery capacity to ensure they meet your home requirement. Remember, during the winter, the sunlight is less.

The off-grid systems are more expensive than the on-grid systems due to the high costs of purchasing batteries and inverters. The systems are most recommended for the far and remote areas where the electricity grid is unavailable. Recently, there has been a rapid growth of off-grid batteries. The reason is the prices for the batteries have appreciated significantly in the towns and the cities.

A simple and affordable DC-coupled solar system comes with a solar charge controller which manages the charging system. Also, the simple inverter supplies AC power. The off-grid solar system work as follows:

Solar Charger Controller

The solar charge controller is commonly known as the battery or charger regulator. The work of the solar charger controller is to regulate the rate of the current received at the battery bank or avoid overcharging. A suitable charger controller is essential to ensure your battery remains healthy and increases its lifespan.

The Battery Bank

As mentioned above, an off-grid solar system does not have an electricity grid. The excess power is usually sent to the battery bank. The solar system will stop feeding the battery bank when the battery is full; when the solar stops working on cloudy days or nights, the appliance draws energy from the battery banks.

Off-Grid Inverter

If you are getting solar panels for your RV, boat, or something which runs on DC, there's no need for the off-grid inverter. The main work of this off-grid inverter is to convert the DC to AC. The electric currents will flow from the solar panel via the charger controller to the battery bank before being converted to AC by the grid inverter.

DC Disconnect Switch

All solar systems require DC and AC safety disconnects. An additional DC disconnect is placed between the grid inverter and the battery bank in an off-grid solar energy system. The switch is applied to stop the current flow between these components. The switch is essential as it helps in maintenance and troubleshooting.

Backup Generator

A backup source like a generator will be required when the battery power is low or on a cloudy day. However, not every generator type will be suitable for your power generation. A gen-set size is recommended to provide energy power for your home and charge your batteries.

Benefits of Off-Grid Solar System

The following are the potential benefits of switching to an off-grid solar system:

  • No blackouts

One of the main advantages of going off-grid solar grid systems is that you will have full power even when other people are experiencing blackouts. Remember several people experiencing health conditions that require refrigerated medicine or electronic devices require electricity. With an off-grid solar system, you should not worry about blackouts.

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  • No Access to Utility Grid

The system is cheaper than extending the power using numerous lines to remote areas. For example, if you are leaving more than 90 yards from the utility grid, the total cost of line transmission would be much higher.

  • Energy Self Sufficient

When you live in off-grid solar systems, you will feel good. Remember when you have sufficient energy, this is a form of security since you will avoid electricity bills, among other bills associated with lack of electricity. When power fails on the electricity grid, this will not impact the off-grid solar energy system. You have energy security since the battery can store energy during winter seasons or when it is a cloudy day.

  1. Grid Intertied Solar Power System with a Battery Backup

The solar system is similar to the grid except for the additional solar batteries. A grid-tied system with a solar battery provides all the benefits of a standard solar system plus the critical benefit of solar batteries. When it is a cloudy day or your solar system energy stops generating energy to run your home, you will pull your solar energy from the solar battery rather than the electricity grid. This will benefit the homeowners without access to the net metering to power their homes using solar energy rather than purchasing grid power energy. During blackouts, you will still access the energy.

The Battery Bank

The excess power is sent to the battery bank in a Grid Intertied Solar Power System with a Battery Backup. The battery bank will stop receiving any power from the solar once it is full. The energy accumulated in the battery bank can be used to power your house during cloudy days or the winter seasons.

The Electricity Grid and the Meter

Based on how you set your hybrid system when the battery is full, you can export the excess power to the electricity grid through the meter. When you drain your power or your solar system stops working, you can draw the power from the electricity grid to power your home.

Battery Based Grid Tie Inverter

The hybrid solar system comes with a battery-based grid inverter. The device helps draw electrical power to the battery bank and vice versa. The device also synchronizes the utility grid. The other components used in a hybrid solar system are discussed above. These elements include DC disconnect and charger controller.

Benefits of Grid Intertied Solar Power System with a Battery Backup

Going hybrid solar energy system will come with the following benefits:

  • Less Expensive

When you compare hybrid solar energy to off-grid systems, they are less expensive. You will not require a backup generator since you have a battery bank. So, this is an excellent benefit for hybrid solar systems.

  • Energy Storage

When your solar energy system generates excess energy, the energy might be stored in the battery bank. Therefore you can light your home even when there is no sunlight. During power outages, you can still light your home for several hours.

Contact a Solar System Installation Expert Near Me

As discussed above, the three Types of Residential Solar Electric Power Systems vary in effectiveness, convenience, and efficiency. Every type of solar power system comes with its unique benefits. To determine the best solar system for your needs, you need to hire a well-trained solar energy expert.

At Sun Solar Electric, we are here to help you. Our solar energy professionals will guide you through the three types of solar systems before determining the one that suits your family's needs. We understand the right time to go solar is now. Contact our experts right away if you are in Northern California and the Bay Area and want to go solar today. Contact us today at 707-658-2157, and join many people in the world of solar energy today.

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