Different Types of Solar Power Systems
As electricity consumption and costs continue to rise, homeowners and businesses are increasingly turning to solar energy to generate electricity. In order to install solar power systems, however, all options should be considered beforehand. Therefore, it is crucial to take a look at the different types of solar installations.
In this post, we will discuss the different options for solar power systems and their components. We will look at the three different types of solar power systems: on-grid, off-grid, hybrid.
Off-grid systems are completely autonomous solar power systems as they are not connected to the grid. Solar panels produce all the electricity and battery storage is required.
On-Grid Solar Power Systems
In a grid tied system, the electrical power produced by the solar PV system is used instantly. If it generates more energy than needed, the surplus is sold to the grid. This is done by net-metering. Exporting surplus energy is rewarded with a small compensation that is deducted from the household’s total energy bills. If the system does not produce enough electricity, more power is drawn from the grid.
Grid tied systems tend to be the cheapest, because they have a relatively low capacity and no battery storage system. They also require less solar panels than their counterparts. Apart from the low cost, grid tied systems have a few more advantages worth looking into.
Advantages of On-Grid Systems
- Initial cost
- Low maintenance
- High reliability
- High flexibility
Grid-connected systems are significantly less expensive than their counterparts since they require less equipment. Likewise, the maintenance cost of grid-tied systems is fairly low as well.
The biggest advantage of on-grid systems, however, is their flexibility. The grid connection ensures that access to electricity is provided at all times, even if the solar power system fails. Users can build their systems with both an alternative energy source and a utility supply. The system may be modified the system at any time if desired.
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Disadvantages of On-Grid Systems
Due to their grid dependence, on-grid systems also have two unique disadvantages. Firstly, the solar power produced can only be used during peak hours. This is because solar panels only produce electricity when exposed to sunlight. Without battery storage, solar power cannot be used at night.
The second disadvantage is that on-grid systems provide no backup during power outages. On-grid systems are designed to operate only when the grid is functional. Solar panels will automatically shut down if the connected utility grid fails.
Off-Grid Solar Power Systems
As opposed to grid-tied systems, off-grid installations allow users to completely disconnect from public electricity networks. Off-grid systems are ideal for isolated rural locations where traditional sources of electricity are difficult to access. In this approach, the entire energy demand is covered by solar power.
Off-grid solar power systems can be based on either AC or DC. In the former case, the inverter converts the energy to AC power and feeds it to end devices. DC-based systems are less expensive since they do not require an inverter but only yield DC electricity.
Due to their larger size, off-grid systems are more expensive. After all, they have to produce enough power to supply a house 24/7. Furthermore, battery storage becomes a necessity in order to store solar power for use at night. Off-grid inverters require a higher capacity to deal with the increased output, further increasing total cost.
The H2 is a multi-purpose hybrid inverter for off-grid solutions. A 16A string guarantees for reliable handling of modern high-power PV modules
A backup mode with UPS function allows for a switching time of less than 10ms. With 150% DC and AC 110% AC overload capacity, the H2 can be relied on even under the most straining conditions.
In additionl, the H2 also works as a battery charger. Thus, it really is the ideal inverter for any off-grid solar power system!
- Best off-grind solar inverter
- Integrated battery charger
- For ultra-high power modules
- Smart energy management
Advantages of Off-Grid Solar Power Systems
- No electricity bill
- Complete energy independence
- No risk of power outage
The idea of completely disconnecting from the grid and becoming self-sufficient in terms of electrical supply is appealing. It expands personal freedom for homeowners who have hitherto been constrained by the restrictions of commercial electricity suppliers and state power agencies.
That means, even if everyone else’s power goes out, an off-grid system will continue to produce power. However, the biggest advantage of going off-grid are savings in the long run. Owners of off-grid systems are producing their entire electricity supply on their own. Thus, they will never have to pay for electricity bills again.
Disadvantages of Off-Grid Solar Power Systems
Despite the enticing prospect of going off grid, it is by no means a risk-free decision. Off-grid systems have some inherent and unique drawbacks that other types of solar power systems do not have. Therefore, it is important to consider these disadvantages and identify potential problems in advance.
Off-Grid Solar Systems Disadvantages
- High cost
- Power supply entirely dependent on solar
- No export of excess power
- Higher number of solar panels required
- Higher maintenance requirements
- Planning permission for flat roof systems may be required
One of the biggest drawbacks of a full off grid solution is that it confines oneself to a single electricity source. A PV array generates electricity only under full sunlight exposure. Thus, off-grid systems only have about 6 hours per day to generate a households energy supply for an entire day.
Therefore, it is crucial to know how much power a household consumes in a day beforehand. The easiest way to determine a household’s daily electricity consumption is by using a load calculator.
Hybrid Solar Power Systems
Hybrid systems are essentially on-grid systems with an additional battery storage system. They are designed to combine the best aspects of grid-tied and off-grid systems without incurring any additional disadvantages. Hybrid systems offer the most flexibility to users, which is why they are becoming more and more popular.
The additional battery storage component allows for excess solar power to be stored in batteries for later use. The stored energy can then either be used at night, as backup during power outages or exported to the grid. A hybrid system consists of a solar panel array, a charge controller, a battery storage systems and inverter.
This additional flexibility allows hybrid solar power systems to operate in a variety of configurations. This way, users can optimize electricity flow according to their needs. In general, there are three different configurations under which a hybrid system can be operated.
Hybrid System Configuration Modes
Self-consumption mode is the best way to store energy from solar PV panels when aiming to minimize electricity cost.
- Daytime: With solar power being the preferred electricity source, excess energy charges the battery. Any further amount of energy is exported to the grid.
- Night: The battery powers energy usage at night.
- Electricity from the grid is used only if solar panels plus battery storage system don’t provide enough power.
2. Time of Use
Time of use is optimal for using stored power to minimize electricity bills (also known as peak shaving).
- Peak hours: The battery is the preferred power source, solar system second and grid power third. Excess solar power gets exported to the grid.
- Off-peak hours: Battery charges with solar power for use during peak hours. Excess solar power is the primary electricity source.
- Electricity gets imported from grid if you run out of battery at night.
In this mode, the battery is programmed to accept a charge and to discharge power at specific times. This technique is also known as energy arbitrage. Typically, peak rates are between 4 and 10PM. Hence, it is recommended to set the discharge time to fall within that time frame.
Backup-mode makes sure that the battery remains fully charged at all times.
- Daytime: The solar panels and storage system charges the battery to maintain power backup. Excess solar power will power the house, while the remaining surplus is exported.
- Night: Grid electricity powers the house at night.
- Electricity gets imported from the grid if more power is need than the home battery energy storage system provides.
This mode keeps the solar panel battery bank fully charged. This way, a solar power backup for home is available during power cuts.
The AS1 is not a portable solar charger. However, the small dimensions of the AS1 also make it suitable for mobile solutions. Therefore, you can easily travel with a bunch of battery packs in a mobile home.
A full-fledged intelligent energy storage system with smart meters provides maximum freedom in terms of energy and expense allocation.
The AS1 adds a new dimension of scalability to an on grid solar system. Due to it’s modular design, it can be combined with additional battery units to increase storage capacity.
- Optimal for on-grid solutions
- Storage capacity: 5.1 kWh
- Modular design
- Lithium battery
- No lead acid
- Smart energy management
- 3 different operating modes
- Integrated inverter charger