Are you considering solar power for your home but not sure whether to go grid connect, off-grid or hybrid? In this blog we explain the difference between the 3 types of solar power and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Perhaps you are building a new home and want to make the best decision for energy supply. Perhaps you live in an existing home and want to become more energy efficient and reduce your power bills; or perhaps you are considering relocating to a tiny home and/ or living off-grid. Whether your motivations are to save money; switch to an environmentally friendly alternative power source; reduce your carbon footprint; or to improve the sales value of your home; solar offers a solution to all of these. So, what are the different solar system options in Australia?
The 3 types of solar power systems available in Australia
- On Grid Connect Solar System – a solar PV system connected to the local grid, enabling you to draw electricity from the grid at times you are unable to draw electricity from your solar system during the night, inclement weather or high usage volumes.
- Hybrid Solar System – a grid connected solar system with battery storage, enabling users to utilise their daytime solar power with the ability to store any excess solar power in the battery for night time use, all while remaining connected to the grid.
- Off Grid Solar System – a stand alone solar power system with no reliance on the electricity grid. A backup generator is often recommended to provide additional electricity when solar power generation is insufficient.
Advantages of an on-grid solar power system
There are many benefits of a grid connected solar system. Firstly any shortfall in solar generated power is covered by access to electricity sourced from the grid, meaning you always have a backup. Secondly, any excess power generated by your solar system can be exported to the grid for a financial credit on your bill. To convert direct current (DC) electricity produced by a solar panel to alternating current (AC) electricity, as provided by the electricity grid, a solar inverter is required. For electricity exported TO the grid, you will receive a feed-in tariff with current rates of up to 15c/kWh (Canstar Blue). This will get you a credit on your electricity bill to help offset the fees and charges.
Advantages of a Hybrid solar power system
Having a battery enables you to store electricity to be used when the solar panels are not supplying power, for example at night, in prolonged cloudy weather or when you need more power. This helps reduce your reliance on the grid power supply particularly during peak cost times, which are predominantly weekday mornings and evenings. At the time of writing, according to Essential Energy peak periods are on weekdays 5-8pm and mornings 7-9am.
Hybrid solar systems are therefore a popular choice for reducing your electricity bills in the long-term and providing back-up power during blackouts. However they require a greater upfront investment than on grid solar systems due to the inclusion of large batteries. Adding a battery to an existing solar system is also an option that can be explored if you are considering a hybrid solution.
Batteries are also required for off-grid solutions, as well as a generator as a back up for extended periods of inclement weather when solar panels are unable to generate sufficient electricity and stored battery power may be exhausted. As such they have higher initial set up costs than both hybrid or on-grid solutions.
Read more about how to choose the best hybrid battery system for your needs.
Advantages of an off -grid solar system
The benefits of an entirely off grid solution, means complete energy independence, and the potential for the most eco-friendly and sustainable home energy set-up with minimal carbon footprint.
A reliance on an off grid power solution does however usually mean a change in lifestyle, with power being viewed as a limited resource, similar to how water is viewed as a finite resource when relying only on stored tank water. Power is therefore used more sparingly again in turn having a positive impact on the environment.
For advice on the best solar power solution for your needs, please Contact Us or give us a call on 02 6652 9700 to receive free specialist advice. We can guide you through the options and make recommendations on the most appropriate solution for you, your home or business.