Solar System Types
There are three main types of solar energy systems: grid tied systems, grid tied with battery back up systems, and off-grid systems. There are pros and cons to each type of solar energy system that you should be aware of before choosing which type is best for your home or business. You’ll find an overview of each type of solar system below.
Solar system types designed to operate in conjunction with the utility company using an inverter to distribute electricity is called a Grid-Tied solar system. This type of system functions kind of like a battery and allows your home or business to be powered from energy from your solar system or the traditional utility grid. When your home or business produces more electricity than it needs, you earn credits towards your utility bill. The goal when building a system is to produce enough so that the credits cover as much of your bill as possible. Grid-tied solar systems are best for most situations because of their affordability.
A solar system connected to the utility company but designed to keep crucial appliances, like refrigerators, energized if long periods of utility company blackouts occur. Grid-tied with battery backup systems can be more expensive because they are a more complex type of solar system and require additional equipment that isn’t fully utilized unless the grid goes down. These systems are also usually not designed to power your whole house off of battery power, only a couple of isolated circuits that contain things like: refrigerators, freezers, internet, phones, etc.. Battery storage systems like Tesla Powerwall can be configured to be both partial and full backup solutions.
A solar system designed to function completely independent of a utility company is also referred to as an off-grid solar system. These types of systems are typically not realistic if you have access to the grid. These systems require more equipment which usually needs to be maintained and replaced more frequently. While you won't have to worry about a monthly utility bill with an off-grid system, they are typically much more expensive than Grid-Tied and Grid-Tied with Battery Backup system types and may require a larger up-front investment.
Customers who produce electricity with a solar energy system enter into an annual billing cycle program with their utility company under the Net Energy Metering Agreement. Over the course of the year, the energy that is put onto the grid through the customer’s smart meter is tracked along with the amount of energy pulled from the grid. At the end of the annual billing cycle, the utility company sends a “True-Up” bill which accounts for the “net difference” between the two.
Depending on how your solar energy system is designed and your usage throughout the year, you can achieve “Net-Zero” and only owe your utility company grid-connection fees.
*Net metering is subject to change at any time with legislation passed by the CPUC. For any proposed changes, please speak to one of our Sales Consultants.