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what is the difference between off grid and on grid?


An on-grid system is also referred to as a grid-tied solar system which means that it is connected to the utility grid. It is the most commonly used solar system for residential and commercial requirements.

This system is beneficial as it does not require the use of additional batteries for storing power. A huge battery backup to suffice electricity requirements when the solar panel system is not producing electricity is very costly and will increase the upfront cost. On-grid systems make use of the electricity produced by the utility when the system is not producing sufficient energy to meet needs is or malfunctioning. This means your energy needs will be fulfilled without costing you a huge amount of batteries.

However, on-grid solar systems will not operate in case of a utility power failure. If the utility is facing a power failure, the on-grid system will also automatically stop its production. This is done for the safety of the people at the grid working to resolve the power failure. This makes an on-grid system unsuitable for places that experience lots of power failures.

What Is Off-grid system?

As the name specified, off-grid systems are not connected to the utility grid and operate independently.

Since these systems are not connected to the grid, battery storage is a must in these systems.

The off-grid system is designed to meet all energy needs of the pace where it is installed. For this, huge battery storage capacity and off-grid inverters are used, which are quite costly.

Therefore, off-grid systems are more expensive as compared to on-grid systems. These systems are best suitable for places far from the electricity grid or are in a remote location like army camps, communication towers, remote rural areas, mining areas, remote farms, street lightings, or highway motels. Off-grid solar systems are also popularly used by RVs and caravans to power their appliances.

The benefit of using an off-grid solar system is that you can enjoy an uninterrupted power supply even in case of utility power failures if you have sufficient battery backup.

What Is The Difference Between Off-Grid And On-Grid ?

1. Access To Electricity:

Electricity Access With Off-Grid Solar

If you opt for a solar system that is not tied to the electric grid and you do not have a generator, you will only have electricity at two points:

1.When the sun is shining and your solar system is producing electricity.
2.When you’re pulling electricity previously generated by your solar system from a solar storage device, like batteries.

If you do not have batteries or a means to store your energy, you will have less or no electricity when it’s cloudy, and you will not have electricity at night. 
With an off-grid system, you will not have access to extra electricity if you need it. What you are producing and what you have stored is all that’s there to power your equipment.

Electricity Access With On-Grid Solar

If you decide to install an on-grid solar system, you will always have access to electricity (unless the grid goes down), whether or not your solar system is producing or if you have batteries.

If your system is not producing any electricity or not producing enough electricity to power the devices, lights, machines, etc. that you’re using, you can pull energy from the utility grid to supplement it. This ensures you always have enough electricity for what you need.

2. Grid power outages:

Off-Grid System: a power outage of the grid will not affect the operation of an off-grid system. Since an off-grid system works independently, any power outage will not change the access to electricity. You can enjoy an uninterrupted power supply even in case of a power failure.

On-Grid System: this system is connected to the grid and hence can access electricity. However, in case of a power failure, you are also bound to be deprived of electricity. Your on-grid system will also not operate in case the power at the grid fails. This is the rule that you have to abide by in an on-grid system. This is done to protect the utility workers from getting an electric shock while fixing the grid.

3. Excess Electricity Production Management:

Power Outages With Off-Grid Systems:Your solar system is working independently from the power grid. If there’s a bad storm or event that knocks out the power, your solar system can continue operating. You won’t notice changes in your service or access to electricity.

Power Outages With Grid-Tied Systems:like in an off-grid system, an on-grid system can also produce excess electricity than is required. In the case of an on-grid system, this excess electricity will be delivered to the grid. If there is no meter connected at the point providing to the grid, then all of the extra electricity will go unaccounted for. Thankfully, most on-grid systems have a net meter installed to account for the excess electricity. You need to apply for a net meter through an application. The net meter credits for your excess electricity, and when you use electricity from the grid, you can use those credits instead of paying for the used electricity. This way you can save up on lots of money.

4. Billing:

Electricity Bills with an Off-Grid System:If your PV system is not tied to a grid, you won’t receive an electric bill at all. However, even with no electric bill, off-grid systems are often more expensive because of the additional equipment like batteries that are needed to make it viable.

On-Grid System: the solar panel system, in this case, is connected to the grid which means, the system is using the utility’s services like transmission and distribution lines. The grid-tied system will be charged for these services. Moreover, a fixed charge of getting connected to the grid also needs to be paid. Other than these service charges, you may sometimes find that you have been charged for the electricity used from the grid. This happens when there is no credit left to cover up the electricity used.

What about Hybrid solar system ?

Hybrid solar panel systems are similar to a grid solar system but use batteries to store energy for later use. This ability to store energy enables most hybrid systems to also operate as a backup power supply during a blackout, similar to a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply).

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