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What is the difference between grid tied and off the grid solar energy systems

Once you’ve made the decision that solar power is right for you, you have to decide whether or not to become wholly energy independent. Certainly, there are many factors to take into account when configuring a residential solar energy system.

However, you can only install a residential solar system in one of two basic configurations: grid-tied or off-the-grid.

What is a grid-tied residential solar energy system?

Simply put, a “grid-tied” system is a residential solar energy system that allows your home to remain connected to the larger, wide-area electrical grid. As you may already know, the electrical grid is responsible for generating, distributing and balancing electricity across a wide area, such as a major city. An electrical grid can also encompass a wide rural area that includes several different communities, too.

However, installing a solar energy system in your home doesn’t necessarily preclude you from remaining connected to the electrical grid. In fact, you may prefer to remain connected to take advantage of the reliability of service and redundancy that energy companies provide. Even among grid-tied systems, there are many different configurations to take into account. Here is a breakdown of the benefits of a grid-tied residential solar energy system.

Benefits of a grid-tied residential solar energy system

The biggest benefit of a grid-tied residential solar energy system is the opportunity to leverage what is known as “net metering” between you and an energy provider. As a homeowner, you always have an eye on your bottom-line costs, especially when it comes to the rising cost of electricity in the U.S.

Net metering arrangements allow you to “sell” the excess renewable energy you generate at home back to the energy provider’s electrical grid. You can set up net metering arrangements in a number of different ways. Some states are more ahead of the curve than others with regard to regulating and ensuring the safety of net metering arrangements from a consumer’s standpoint.
If you configure a right-sized residential solar energy system, you may actually be able to enjoy a $0 electricity bill. In the absolute best case scenario, your energy provider may actually owe you money for the power you’ve contributed back to the electrical grid.

What is an off-the-grid residential solar energy system?

An off-the-grid residential solar energy system is completely independent of the wide-area electrical grid. If you own a home in a particularly rural area, installing an off-the-grid system may be your only option.

You can also install an off-the-grid residential solar energy system even though it is more convenient to configure a grid-tied system. It comes down to a matter of preference and the energy-independent lifestyle you choose to support. Your decision to install an off-the-grid residential solar energy system may be a matter of necessity, or a matter of choice.

Benefits of off-the-grid residential solar energy systems

The most attractive feature of an off-the-grid residential solar energy system is that fact that you can become truly energy independent. The decision to “cut the cord” to your energy provider isn’t easy to make, but if you do choose to go this route, you can take advantage of the most obvious benefit: no electricity bill.

Today’s off-the-grid residential solar energy systems can provide all the functionality you need. The catch is: You have to be very careful how you configure your off-the-grid system to ensure your needs are met. In some instances, you may actually be able to raise the value of your home once you become energy independent.

Which configuration is more economical?

There are so many factors you have to take into account when pricing residential solar energy systems. The value proposition of your solar energy system may be quite different from a similar system installed in another part of your community. Off-the-grid systems allow energy independence, but grid-tied systems also can significantly cut your energy expenses. What matters most is finding which configuration works best for your financial situation and lifestyle choice.

At the end of the day, you can benefit greatly from expert consultation when deciding on a solar energy system. The key is to find the right balance to make the most out of your investment.

RGS Energy has been offering expert solar energy consultation to homeowners for nearly 40 years. To find out how solar energy could power your home, visit www.sandbox.rgsenergy.com.

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