When you install a solar system on your house, you’ll have two options. You can connect your system to the local utility grid, selling the excess energy you generate back to the utility company. Or, you can install an off-grid system, which stands alone and is usually accompanied by a series of batteries and a backup generator that store power for you to use on cloudy days or overnight when the sun isn’t shining.
Grid-connected systems are the most common and the least expensive because they require less expensive equipment and maintenance than an off-the-grid system. As the Department of Energy explains it, a grid-connected system allows you to power your home with renewable energy when the sun is shining. Any excess electricity you produce is fed back into the grid.
When the sun is unavailable, electricity from the grid supplies your needs, eliminating the expense of electricity storage devices, like batteries.
An off-grid system is a system that stands alone and is not connected to the grid in any way. Often, these systems make sense for homes located in remote areas, when installing a stand-alone system is more cost-effective than running a power line to the home (which will cost you between $15,000 and $50,000 per mile.)
In addition to the panels themselves, an off-grid system also includes other equipment, such as batteries, a charge controller, power-conditioning equipment, safety equipment, meters, and instrumentation.
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