Solar Power Options

How to Choose a Solar Power System that’s Right for You

 

Understanding Your Options

There are three main types of solar energy systems: grid-tied, grid-tied with battery backup (hybrid), and off-grid.

To find the right solution for your family, it’s important to assess your need and energy usage habits.

If you still have questions after reading the information below, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to walk you through the decision-making process.

 


Grid-Tied Solar Power Systems

Grid-Tied solar system configurationA grid-tied solar power system is connected directly to your home’s electrical panel and then to the electrical utility grid. Grid-tied systems allows the homeowner to utilize power from either their home’s solar energy system or the utility grid. Switching between solar panel produced power and the power grid is seamless.

The advantage of a grid-tied system is the ability to balance roof top power production and home power requirements. When a grid-tied system is producing more power than the home is consuming, the excess can be sold back to the power company (POCOS), thus lowering your utility bill. When the system is not producing sufficient power, the home will draw power from the power grid.

Grid-tied systems are the lowest cost type of residential solar electric system since they have fewer required components. However, grid-tied systems will not power your home in the event of a power grid blackout, as they shutdown for safety reasons.

Advantages
  • Least cost
  • Easiest design
  • Minimal components
  • Virtually zero maintenance costs
Considerations
  • Shutdown during a power outage
  • Lowest return on investment
  • Does not produce power during the daily peak demand
  • Highest overall carbon emission option
  • Monthly power bill from the POCOS

 


Grid-Tied Solar Power System with Battery Backup (Hybrid)

Hybrid grid-tied solar power system configurationA hybrid grid-tied solar power system is connected to the power grid, but also adds battery backup to your system. The addition of a battery backup enables the system to balance production and demand, and protects against power outages.

Solar electric system production depends on the available sunlight. When sunlight is abundant, production can exceed demand. When this happens, excess power charges your batteries. When the system is producing less electricity than demanded by the home, the batteries can make up the shortfall.

Grid-tied systems are also connected to the utility power grid. This enables the homeowners to draw from the grid during periods of excess demand and to sell power to the grid when there is excess production.

A hybrid system allows homeowners on time-of-day metering to utilize their own power during high demands, thus saving on peak charges. A hybrid system can also be integrated with a standby generator.

While hybrid grid-tied systems offer more flexibility, they are not without their disadvantages. Charging and discharging batteries reduces the overall efficiency of the system, meaning these systems are more complex and more expensive.

Advantages
  • Can be used during a power grid outage
  • Can control your peak usage
  • Will allow excess energy to be sent into the power grid
Considerations
  • Higher initial cost
  • Requires a battery bank
  • Requires maintenance
  • Medium carbon emission option
  • Monthly power bill from the POCOS

 


Off-Grid Solar Power Systems

Off-grid solar power system configuration.An off-grid residential system is completely disconnected from the electric power grid and is an island upon itself. Without a connection to the power grid, batteries are essential to balance periods of excess production and excess demand. Backup generators are also common to offset the demand on the batteries during periods of low sunlight conditions.

Living with an off-grid solar system allows greater flexibility in adjusting your schedule as peak hours can be tailored to the peak daily sun.

Often the heat from the generator is salvaged, allowing as much energy conservation as possible for heating a building or domestic hot water.

Advantages
  • Requires less solar panels than the other options
  • No monthly charges, or time-of-day usage fees
  • Greenest of all the options; low carbon emissions
  • No monthly POCOS billing
Considerations
  • Require a larger battery bank
  • Has more expendable components
  • Requires monthly maintenance
  • Additional personal labour required

 


Which System is Right for You?

Each system offers different benefits and considerations for your family.

If you are still unsure which system is right for you, contact us today to discuss your requirements with one of our qualified professional.

We can guide you through the process of choosing the solution that best meets your needs, home type, location in Canada, and budget.