Three Types of Solar Power Systems
There are three major types of solar power systems that are unique to each solar power shopper. Let’s get into a quick overview of the options you have as a consumer looking to produce electricity from the sun:
1. Grid Tie Systems
These systems are connected to the grid which interact with your utility company, when extra power is generated it is fed back into the grid and you receive a credit from the utility company for every kWh (kilowatt hour) you contribute. You can only install a grid connected system in areas, which utilities offer “net-metering”. Grid tie systems do not provide backup power when there is a power outage.
2. Grid Tie Systems with Battery Backup
Similar to a grid tie system, this system feeds back into the grid and spins your meter backwards when you are producing more than you are using. Although the interesting part of this system is it has an inverter that can connect to a battery bank. Batteries can store solar juice for your critical loads during a power outage. This type of system will keep your home or business running during a blackout. Adding a battery backup sacrifices efficiency of the system, although the trade off of having power during a blackout may meet your needs.
3. Off-Grid Systems
Off-Grid systems are independent of the utility. These types of systems are typically found in remote areas which have no access to electric service. Off-Grid Systems can be made up of solar panels, wind turbines, micro hydroelectric or a combination. Off-Grid systems are very dependent on the battery bank, so when designing an off-grid system, a load calculation with the specific appliances (down to the model numbers of the appliances) need to be conducted. Often off-grid system owners combine fossil fuel generators for backup when the off grid system cannot meet the entire needs of the user.