Solar - Off Grid or On Grid?

by Rick Chapo - Date: 2007-03-12 - Word Count: 390 Share This!

If you are considering solar as a renewable energy system for your home, one of the decisions you will have to make is whether to be on grid or off grid.

Let's start with the basics. What is a grid? The grid as referred to in solar is the power grid maintained by utility companies. If you pay a utility bill each month, you are pulling power off the utility grid.

Going off grid with solar power is in many ways a statement of independence. You don't need to be a slave to the stinking utility corporations. You can handle your own electrical production. Ah, but do you want to?

Going off grid with solar is often more expensive in both the short and long term. The immediate expense has to do with batteries. Solar power is not just applied to your home energy needs. If you are off grid, you must store the power in batteries. The batteries are expensive and have to be replaced from time to time.

Going on grid is generally a cheaper initial choice. Simply put, you don't need batteries. You can just plug into the utility grid. It is often done at your power meter, but check with the utility to find out for sure.

Once hooked to the grid, you have the benefit of feeding power into the system. In a majority of states, you can actually sell your excess power to the utility. This is known as net metering. While you are at work during the day, your panel system will feed electricity into the grid. Your meter will actually spin backwards and your bill will be reduced if not eliminated.

Finances are another advantage to going on grid. The federal government will give you tax credits for doing so. Many states will do so also or at least give you rebates. These incentives, however, are usually not allowed for off grid systems.

So, is there any situation where off grid makes sense. Yes, there are two. One, you simply want to be independent regardless of the finances involved. Second, you are in a remote area where you cannot reach the grid without spending significant money to do so. Barring these two situations, on grid is probably your best choice.

Rick Chapo is with - a directory of solar companies nationwide and solar information.

Related Tags: energy, power, tax, grid, solar, battery, batteries, credits, utility, on, off, rebates

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