Solar power systems, unlike traditional electrical grid systems, are not one size fits all. However, this should not be considered a limitation. Far from it: One of the great things about modern solar power systems is that they can be tailored to the specific needs of the homeowner or business owner, customized to offer as much – or as little – connection to existing energy systems as needed.
To Buy or Not to Buy?
The first consideration when deciding between different solar power systems is whether or not you want to lease your solar power system from a provider or buy it outright. Determining the best course of action involves weighing the economic factors involved and what your budgetary limitations are – though more often than not, owning is the better option.
Leasing a system requires less of an upfront investment than buying, or even no investment at all. All costs related to hardware, installation and ongoing operation and maintenance is assumed by the provider.
However, leasing your solar power system means that you do not own the system that resides on your property. You are beholden to a third party, who you may be paying for the next 20 to 25 years, as is the typical length of lease. Furthermore, it remains questionable as to whether the system functions as an asset that raises your property value – to the point where some buyers interested in a solar equipped home may be turned off by learning the system is leased.
Owning, on the other hand, means more money up front, but in the end may be significantly more lucrative in terms of return on investment. Purchasing a system outright over the long run costs 50 percent less than leasing, and you as the homeowner can take advantage of significant solar tax rebates right out of the gate. And with SunWorks’ suite of financing solutions, going solar is affordable and within reach of nearly anyone ready to embrace clean energy.
Grid Tied, Batteries and Off Grid Systems
Once you have decided whether you will buy or lease your solar power system, the question of what kind of system you want can be addressed. The components of the three main varieties of solar power systems – solar panels, arrays, racks and mounting, wiring, etc – are essentially the same across all options. What differs is how they connect – or don’t connect – to local power grids.
Grid Tied Solar Power Systems
The most common variety for both residential and commercial solar, grid tied systems are, as the name suggests, tapped into energy grids owned and operated by a local utility company. These systems generate electricity during the day as the sun shines down on solar panels, powering whatever you have plugged in that day. This electricity is essential free as long as the sun is out. If it is night time or your needs exceed the amount of power that your panels can generate in a given time, then electricity is fed in from the grid to supplement – charged at your normal rate.
Grid tied systems can also feed the electricity you generate back into the grid if you generate an excess of power. Your utility company will issue you a credit to be used towards future electricity bills based on how much power it “bought” from you. This is known as net energy metering (NEM).
Grid Tied with Battery Backup
A variation on the standard grid tied solar power system, this system adds a rechargeable battery component. Rather than opt for a NEM credit, feeding the excess power into a home battery allows it to be stored for later use, such as cloudy days or nighttime.
The system is still tied to the grid so that, if both battery and solar power systems aren’t able to provide power, you can still have access to electricity. While home solar batteries have struggled with issues related to reliability and cost, recent innovations seem to be paving the way for a better, more efficient battery.
Off Grid Solar Power Systems
For those looking to completely disconnect from utilities, an off grid system offers all the same components as a standard solar power system, only without the connection to the local power grid. While this could mean a completely free, carbon neutral existence, it isn’t for everybody. To make it work, you’ll need to have batteries and possibly alternative power generators on site just in case the sun isn’t out.
Can’t decide what system is right for you? Don’t worry, the solar experts at Sunworks can help. Call us today to learn more.