Off Grid vs On Grid Solar System

Solar Power Systems are becoming so common these days that even states in America are offering tax relief and saving for homeowners to have the systems installed reaping the benefits that can go to the homeowners and providing more for everyone else that is located in the electrical grid. There are two ways of applying the Solar power needed for the home. They are Off-Grid and On-Grid Solar Power Systems for homes. What is the difference between Off-Grid and On-Grid Solar Systems? 

  1. On-Grid Solar Systems-Are connected to the utility grid. If panels produce less energy than required, the rest is supplied by the grid. If it produces more, the excess is fed back to the grid.
  2. Off-Grid Solar Systems-Used in rural areas not tied to the grid, charges-stores & draws energy from Batteries


In the following articles, we will discuss the differences between a Solar Power system for a Residential Home that is located on or near a power grid and an Off-Grid that can’t be tied in like a Cabin, Tiny house a trailer along with the components that you will need for each situation.

Complete Solar Power Kits for Homes

A complete home solar electric system requires components to produce electricity, convert power into alternating current that can be used by home appliances, store excess electricity, and maintain safety.

  • Solar Panels-The solar panels are installed outside the home, typically on the roof, and convert sunlight into electricity.
  • Solar Array Mounting Racks-Solar panels are joined into arrays and commonly mounted in one of three ways: on roofs; on poles in free-standing arrays; or directly on the ground.
  • Array DC Disconnect-The Array DC disconnect is used to disconnect the solar arrays from the home for maintenance. It is called a DC disconnect because the solar arrays produce DC (direct current) power.
  • Inverter-Solar panels and batteries produce DC (direct current) power. Standard home appliances use AC (alternating current). An inverter converts the DC power produced by the solar panels and batteries to the AC power required by appliances.
  • Battery Pack-Solar power systems produce electricity during the daytime when the sun is shining. Then store in batteries at night or during cloudy skies.


  • Power Meter, Utility Meter, Kilowatt Meter-For systems that tie to the utility grid, the power meter measures the amount of power used from the grid. In systems designed to sell power to the utility, the power meter also measures the amount of power the solar system sends to the grid.
  • Breaker Panel, AC Panel, Circuit Breaker Panel-The breaker panel is where the power source is joined to the electrical circuits in your home.  A circuit is a continuous route of connected wire that joins together outlets and lights in the electric system.
  • Charge Controller-The charge controller also known as the charge regulator maintains the proper charging voltage for system batteries.


During the Day your Solar panels produce energy and send that energy to your Panel Box inside your home. You will use some of the energy that is produced in your home and the excess energy that is made will be sent to your Battery Bank and begin to charge your Solar Battery.

The stored solar energy can then be used later on when it is needed. Once the Solar Battery is fully charged the energy produced by the Solar Panels is sent back out to the Grid.

At night when there is no source of the sun’s energy, your home will draw energy from the Battery, and when that runs low your home will go back to the Grid and draw from there.

This process will reduce the amount of energy that would normally come from the grid 24 hrs. a day and save you money. Doing this at certain times of the day when used on the electrical Grid is normally being drawn at the highest amount can be even more cost-effective saving you lots of money.

The Electric Company charges higher rates during these peak times of the day normally in the latter half of the day. This is when you use the Solar energy that you pulled and store in the Solar Battery saving on paying higher rates. When the Electrical Grid goes down, You’ll be able to use the energy that your Solar Panels are producing besides the power stored in your battery until the Grid comes back.


Solar Survival Gear

Off-Grid Solar System Kits

The idea of an Off-Grid Solar System is the same as an On-Grid Solar System as far as producing electrical power with PV Solar Panels and storing that power in a Battery Bank- converting it from DC to AC and then utilizing it. But instead of putting the excess energy back into the electrical grid, we will store the excess with a larger amount of Battery space.

This will allow us to be completely isolated from the Electrical Grid and at the same time be independent of the cost and charges that are incurred by the Electric Company, harvesting the sun’s energy and living anywhere that the sun will shine.

  • Solar Panels-Typical 12Volt Solar Panels are used. When you are charging single batteries or a small group of them, it is advised to use low-voltage solar panels. These panels range in size from 100W to 130W and are rated at 12 or 24 Volts.
  • Charge Controllers- Used for Protecting your batteries-The charge controller is the most inexpensive component of your system and it will protect your costly batteries. Prices for charge controllers start under $30 and will protect your batteries from permanent damage. Selecting the right charge controller is fairly easy as well.
  • Deep Cycle Batteries- Used for energy storage-The first thing you need to look at when buying solar battery storage is its capacity rating and power rating. The capacity rating tells you how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity a solar battery can hold. You can add on for more capacity as you up the power of the system.
  • Power Inverter- Used for charging AC electronics Solar panels and batteries that deliver energy in Direct Current (DC). Conventional outlets provide energy in Alternative Current (AC). The inverter is the device that will allow you to use the DC power stored in your batteries to supply conventional electronics, chargers, and appliances with AC power. Even though you can find lights and appliances that run on DC, and in the case of solar systems DC appliances are recommended over AC appliances, you will always have the need to run AC appliances or electronics.


Solar System Components


Pure Sine Inverters-that Solar Companies recommend are made to produce a Pure Sine Wave. Sine Wave produces pure power that is similar to what you get from the power grid. This will ensure that appliances like computers TVs and refrigerators will run at optimal efficiency. Charge Controller’s job is to regulate the solar energy coming from the Solar Panels. It will help maximize efficiency by keeping your batteries at a healthy charge.

Remote Control-Too much or too little amount of charge coming from your Solar Panels can damage or degrade the life of your batteries. The Charge Controller will oversee how Solar energy is delivered to the battery for storage. Charge Controllers should have some kind of Remote Control so that the operator can charge settings, identify faults, and check the system’s overview status.

Battery Monitor-Also, Your Off-Grid system should be equipped with a Battery Monitor that will provide feedback that will be important to the system. Maximum and minimum DC voltage, the last time 100% charge was reached, and the current state of charge. If the Charge Controller doesn’t include one then you can buy one separately and install it yourself.

Surge Protector will provide additional protection from power surges like lightning strikes. In order to provide the best protection add a grounding rod to the system

Automatic Generator Start or AGS- Adding a generator to your off-grid Solar system is a great addition. The generator system can be started when the battery system is low or turns off automatically when it is full.


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JimGalloway Author/Editor





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