Different Types of Solar Energy Systems for Your Home

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solar panel roof

Are you thinking of adding a solar-powered system to your house? A solar system is a great way to increase your home’s value while providing electricity to your home. Depending on the system you choose, you may be able to sell back to your city or town some of the energy that your system generates, which can help you offset some of the costs of installation. With solar technology improving, now is a great time to add solar power to your home. Discover some of the different options for solar-powered systems.

Grid-Connected Solar Power

power lines with city backdrop

A grid-tied system is still attached to the power grid. If for some reason you lose power through your solar system, you will be able to draw power from the grid. This arrangement could happen if you have an unusual number of cloudy days or storms, and it offers a great advantage over off-grid systems. Plus, being connected is a requirement if you want to sell power back to the grid. When you sell back power you’ve produced but haven’t consumed, you’re taking part in what is called net metering.

Other benefits of a grid-tied system include the following:

  • Initial costs are lower than off-grid systems.
  • Grid systems do not need batteries.
  • You can start with fewer panels and buy more as you can afford them. You’ll lower your monthly electricity costs, but you won’t eliminate them.

However, you’ll encounter a couple of disadvantages as well:

  • When the grid fails, such as during a storm with downed electrical lines, grid-connected systems won’t work, either.
  • For those who live in a rural area, installing an off-grid system may be easier than installing power lines to connect to the grid.

Off-Grid Solar Power Systems

If the main reason why you want to install solar panels is to power your home if your city’s electricity grid goes down or — in the worst case scenario — a disaster occurs, then an off-grid system is for you.

Granted, you won’t be able to sell power back to an electric utility, and if your system goes down, you won’t have a backup system unless you also buy a generator. However, you won’t receive a monthly bill for the costs of powering your home, which can be especially helpful in areas where energy costs are high.

These types of systems cost a bit up front because you must have enough power to cover everything in your home — your refrigerator, heating and cooling system, and water heater, for example. But the arrangement is especially ideal for those who live away from cities and towns or those hoping to live off the grid.

To make this system work as efficiently as possible, you need to have batteries to store power so that when the sun hides behind the clouds, you’ll still have power. Batteries can be expensive and typically have to be replaced every five to seven years.

Hybrid Solar Power Systems

solar battery home

If you’re not sure which system works better for you, then the solution might be a hybrid system that includes advantages of both. This grid-tied solar system also includes battery storage, and its operation is similar to hybrid vehicles that can run on both battery power and gas. The following are some of the advantages of a hybrid system:

  • With this system, you can use power from the grid if needed.
  • When you don’t have enough power from the sun, you don’t need a backup generator. Batteries get introduced to the system to store power during peak hours, which can allow you to consume battery power when the sun isn’t present or if your city’s power grid goes down.
  • You can sell back excess power to the grid to offset installation and maintenance costs.

Great advantages make a hybrid system alluring, but you should also consider some of the following disadvantages:

  • This system requires an investment in batteries to store energy to use when solar power is not readily available. As already mentioned, batteries can be expensive and need to be replaced about every five years.
  • To take advantage of being off the grid — whether you experience periods when the grid goes down or you want to avoid having a monthly bill — you’ll need to invest the money required to buy what’s necessary to run your household.

RV Solar Panel Kits

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Your home isn’t the only place where you can use solar panels. Recreational vehicles can be a lot of fun to take with you on vacations or camping, whether you’re headed to your favorite watering hole or traveling across the country. But most RVs are not used more than a few times a year. This inactivity leads to house batteries that die from being left idle, which can lead to permanent damage that causes the battery to fail to charge or to hold a charge.

You can deal with this situation in two ways:

  • Get a small solar trickle charger. As the house battery loses its charge, the trickle charger charges the battery, helping it stay fully charged and ready to go.
  • Use solar panels as the main source of energy. You’ll need to install solar panels on the RV — lots of solar panels.

With the second option, you need solar panels that can absorb the sun’s rays due to limited space on the RV’s roof. Large motor homes typically need 500 to 800 watts of power, especially if you’re hoping that the system will run refrigerators, heaters, air conditioning, and stoves.

What’s great about this system, however, is that you no longer need to find a camping spot where you can hook up the RV to power. You can escape to gridless locales and enjoy nature.

Whether your reasons for adding solar power are to help the environment, provide power for your family during a disaster, or lower your monthly bills, investment in a solar system has many advantages and could raise the value of your home. Due to the costs involved, a home solar-powered system is a long-term investment, but it’s one that can pay off for you and your family.

 

 

Resources:

https://www.builddirect.com/blog/6-gradual-ways-to-include-solar-power-in-your-home/

https://www.builddirect.com/blog/solar-panels-a-solid-investment-or-shiny-mistake/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2011/08/01/how-much-do-solar-panels-boost-home-sale-prices/#bd7d1cb29dd3

http://energyinformative.org/grid-tied-off-grid-and-hybrid-solar-systems/

http://www.goingsolar.com.au/what-we-do/solar-electricity-hybrid

https://www.allearthrenewables.com/blog/grid-tied-solar-vs-off-grid

 

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Sophie Ng

Sophie was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. She's an avid reader, aspiring DIYer, and above all, a foodie. When she doesn't have her nose in a book, you can probably find her waiting in line for brunch somewhere.