When installing a system you should really decide between one of two methods: Grid-Tied, or Off-Grid. Off-Grid solar panel systems are an entirely bootstrapped system in that they are capable of carrying the full power load or consumption of a building without the help of any other supplemental system like the power grid. These may be advantageous for small things in remote areas like fountain pumps or weather sensors in remote locations, or even cabins by a lake in the woods. The only issue with Off-grid systems are the expenses necessary to set them up for something like a house can dwarf the costs for a similar grid-tied system on a suburban home with utility power service. This is because for an Off-grid system you need:
- Solar panels (10 or 20 250Watt Solar Panels)
- A large battery bank (20+ Deep Cycling Lead Acid Batteries)
- A large charge controller
- A large inverter (2 kW+)
- Special wiring
However for a similar Grid-Tied solar panel system you may only need:
- Solar Panels (Similar Quantity to above)
- Microinverter (One 250Watt Microinverter per solar panel, or Two Solar panels per One 500 Watt Microinverter.)
- AC Disconnect Switch (Typically required for grid integration)
Grid Tied solar panels happen to offer lots of benefits over traditional solar panel systems. As you can see above they require about half the hardware, which can reduce cost, and they can also be built in segments or smaller systems, and then scaled up over time. A grid tied system really just works to supplement the power that you buy from the utility company and offset the energy you buy. Also you don’t have to have your system planned out like an Off-grid system. If you use more energy than you’re expecting with your Off-grid system you might actually deplete your batteries and have your system go offline. However with a grid-tied system, any energy you don’t generate can be bought from the utility at the normal electricity rate. Then with net metering if you generate more energy during the peak hours of the day you can actually sell that energy back to the utility which will offset, or pay for the energy you have to buy at night.
Because of the simplicity inherent with grid-tied solar panel systems they can also be installed by Do it Yourself novices. If you can find a compatible microinverter with your electric system you can easily wire a solar panel and microinverter together to a buildings wiring and start seeing results. Many of the solar products we have available here are intended for the easy application of solar products at residences and business as plug and play solar kits. We hope that you’ll check out our products!