There are various types of solar powered system and one panel systems are different from another. The fact that there are solar panels on the roofs of homes doesn’t mean that they operate same systems.
There are three types main solar powered systems installations: off-grid solar, grid-tie solar and grid tie battery backup. We will discuss the three of them.
It’s worth noting that solar power is the perfect choice to meet your energy needs irrespective of how it is configured. Since the existence of earth, the sun has always been there, therefore, it is reliable and can meet all your energy demands. Sun energy is free and is a clean form of energy. In the past, the harnessing of sun’s energy was inefficient. However, with the development of technology, nowadays you can power your entire home with just sun’s energy. Solar panels, batteries, and inverters have been improved to ensure efficient power conversion and storage.
The solar panels work the same way in both the off-grid system and grid-tie system but the methods of storing and integrating solar power into the electrical system in our homes bring out the difference between the two. The difference is huge such that the paths diverge significantly. We won’t look at the panels, but we will look at what happens after the solar panel have collected the power and directed to your home.
Table of Contents
If you visit a suburban street and you see a home with solar panels installed, chances are that they have a grid-tie system. This is because a grid-tie system is the most popular solar powered system. Just as the same suggests, this system is tied to the electrical power generation and distribution grid. The home is attached to a power grid that it gets it power from.
The home is linked to power grid irrespective of whether there are solar panels or not. The connection allows power to flow into the home from the grid. It can also allow power to flow from the home and back to the grid. This makes it a two-way street.
A grid tie-in system involves solar panels that generate electricity during the day when the sun is shining. The electricity generated is routed to the electrical distribution panel. When the energy consumed by a home is less than the energy produced, the excess energy is routed to the grid.
When the power consumed is always less than the power produced, there will be a credit on the homeowner’s power bill. This represents payment from Power Company. The payment caters for the electricity produced by the home.
Grid ties have some disadvantages. Most people don’t know that a grid-tie solar panel system won’t power the home when a power failure occurs. The power company puts a lockout box on solar panel’s output to prevent a back-feed situation should there be a power failure. The box disconnects solar panels from the electrical panel. We had seen earlier that electricity flows in both ways and a power company is always concerned that electricity generated from your home could shock a worker working on power lines. Such a worker will assume that the power is off.
Benefits and drawbacks of Grid-tie system
The grid-tie system has its advantages and disadvantages. They are relatively cheap to install. When the system is installed, the homeowner can receive a credit on the power bill when the power consumed is less than the power produced. There are many examples of the system that is in use.
However, with the advantages, the grid-tie system doesn’t generate solar power on overcast days and at night and during that time, you will be using the grid. Also, when there is a power failure, you won’t have electricity.
This system takes solar technology to a different level. The system uses similar solar panels to grid-tie systems, but store the power generated. The power generated is stored in batteries. This is the main difference between the two. Homeowners who have off-grid power system is not interested in harnessing power for other premises but want to keep the power produced. The power generated is stored in a battery bank. You just have to find a battery that can store sufficient amount of power. The benefit of this method is that you can use the power stored during the day at night. The solar panels absorb sunlight during the day, and the electricity is channeled into a battery bank and the battery can be used at night or during overcast days. The off-grid system saves the output while the grid-tie system will run at reduced capacity.
Benefits and drawbacks of off-grid system
The solar energy is stored in battery bank which can be used on overcast days or at night. The power generated is not affected by the whims of the power utility. It can work even when the power grid fails.
However, the cost of installing system is higher due to associated gear and battery. This system is not common in a suburban setting. It is common in rural homes.
Grid-tie battery backup
The most affordable option for using solar energy is the grid-tie system, but the system doesn’t work when the grid is down. To address the downside of the grid-tie system, the battery backup system was introduced. The installation is simple. You connect the batteries and plug it into a wall outlet. The system is then turned on. When the grid is up, the batteries are charged by the electricity from the grid or the solar panel that comes with the system.
If the grid fails, you can still power the lights, medical equipment, and appliances. All you have to do is plug them into the backup system. If the grid is down for long, you can charge the batteries using the solar panel system. During the time when the grid is down, unplug the battery backup system from the outlet and connect the solar power system. The battery backup system combines the benefits of having a grid-tie system while ensuring that you have power even when the grid goes down.