The purpose of all solar panel systems is to provide a clean and green source of energy for everyone. With time three types of solar systems have been introduced in the market all catering to different demands and requirements of the customers. Not every person wants a grid-tied solar panel system because some want it to be an alternate choice. It is not something for which you should stress yourself. This article is dedicated to all aspects related to on grid vs off grid vs hybrid solar, and with this you will find it easier to choose. You will also get to know which is better on grid or off grid solar along with their efficiency, lifespan, price, and other factors.
On Grid Vs Off Grid Vs Hybrid Solar System – How Do They Differ?
The working of solar panel systems is divided into 3 types, namely on-grid, off-grid, and hybrid solar panel systems.
Electricity generation takes place only when the solar system is connected to the utility grid. Also known as a grid-tied or grid-connected system, in this system direct current (DC) received from panels enters the solar inverter which converts it into alternating current (AC). Here, the grid needs to replicate the wave, voltage, and frequency of the current supplied to appliances. In this system, power generated during the day is fed into the grid which is utilized by the system at night. House gets electricity supply from the utility grid in case the solar system does not produce enough power during the day.
Grid-connected systems are suitable for commercial, industrial, and residential uses where the grid connection is available. The primary components required are Net meters, utility grids, inverters, solar arrays, (PV modules), wires, and charge controllers.
I. Better Rate of Return on Investment and Increases Value of the House
With no batteries required, an on-grid system is way more cost-effective than other systems, which means the initial installation cost is not high and with reduced electricity bills you can get a fast and better return on your investment (ROI). Also, a house with an installed solar system tends to attract good customers who want such houses to avoid the hassle of installing the panel after purchase. This fact increases the value of your house.
II. Easy to Maintain and Easily Synchronize with Other Power Resources
Without batteries there is no need to replace them, also the entire system does not require too much attention and maintenance. It is easy to pair an on-grid system with an onsite diesel generator in case there is no grid power. This enables to restart working of solar panels for generating electricity. Thus, it can easily work with other power resources. Keep reading to find out more pros about on grid Vs off grid Vs hybrid solar.
Also Read: What is On Grid Solar System?
III. Reduces Carbon Footprint
There is no emission of greenhouse gases during electricity generation by PV modules. This reduces your share in increasing your carbon footprint. You are no longer a part of pollution generation and use green-clean energy.
IV. Reduction in Electricity Bill and Earning Money from Government
There is a reduction in the subsequent amount of the bill every month after you install an on-grid system. You are using more solar power than grid-supplied electricity. Also, in certain developed countries like the USA and the United Kingdom, you are eligible for financial incentives. You get deed-in-tariffs along with other subsidies, and all this because some amount of the energy fed into the grid by solar inverters is transferred to the utility provider. For this contribution, you are rewarded.
Also See: Grid Tie Inverter Working Principle
I) Dependency on the Grid
On-grid systems are completely dependent on the grid for operation. In case of a power outage or some issue with the main line, the on-grid system will stop working. As a result, there may not be an electric supply to the house after 1–2 hours when the inverter is exhausted. The system will not supply power at night and during power outages.
II) High Upfront Cost
Without batteries, the initial cost is reduced to some extent but with inverters, the upfront costs are still high. Solar inverters account for 30% of the total cost of a solar panel system.
III) Not Suitable for All Houses
In rural areas, there is no regular power supply from the grid is not suitable for on-grid systems. Also, you need to install grid-tied solar panels in a sunny location for better output.
IV) Time-Consuming Maintenance
Regular maintenance is necessary to maintain the efficiency and output of a grid-tied system. There can be a subsequent decrease in performance with dirty panels and defective inverters.
In our journey to learn about on grid vs off grid Vs hybrid solar, here is our second contender. Also known as a standalone system, this is completely independent of grid connectivity and backed up by batteries. Power generated by solar panels is stored in batteries and used to run devices simultaneously during the day. At night when there is no power generation, stored power from batteries is used up. With an off-grid system, you get a choice of whether the battery will be charged before powering the house or during the day along with powering the house.
Inverters, batteries, solar panels, controllers, voltage switches, along with other components are required for the system. A stand-alone system is suitable for remote-rural areas, industrial properties, and agricultural lands.
Also Read: What is Off Grid Solar System?
I) Complete Independence from Grid and Power Outages
With an off-grid system, you are completely free from the main power supply and its presence or absence does not hinder your work. You become self-reliant in energy production, and you do not have to worry about power outages, or blackouts because you have your own power supply system.
II) Zero Carbon Footprints
With a stand-alone system, your input in carbon footprint becomes zero. This is because solar panel systems do not generate any pollution and with an off-grid system you are not using even a bit of electricity generated by burning fossil fuel thus, you are not contributing towards pollution in terms of power generation.
III) Power Storage Option
Off-grid solar systems are paired with batteries providing a 24*7 solution to power problems. In case there is no sufficient power generation on cloudy days, stored power can be used.
IV) Power to Remote Areas
Due to poor infrastructure and technical advancement in rural and remote areas, the power supply is often an issue there. With off-grid solar systems, people can depend on solar panel systems for continuous power supply.
I) Excess Power is Wasted
With bigger batteries and efficient solar panels, there is more than enough power output. Since the system is not connected to the grid and batteries also have a limited storage capacity, this surplus energy goes wasted. Keep reading to find out more cons on grid Vs off grid Vs hybrid solar.
II) Limited Energy Storage
Batteries paired with solar systems have a certain amount of capacity and can store that much power only. A battery with a 20C rating will not store more power than it can use for 20 or so hours, which means power generated after the battery is completely charged cannot be stored anywhere. And when the battery is exhausted there is not any other backup.
III) More Expensive
Solar inverters account for 30% or more of the cost of a solar panel system but when paired with batteries the system gets even more expensive. And without batteries, you cannot operate an off-grid solar system.
IV) No Alternate Power Resources
Solar power is the sole power resource for an off-grid solar system. It is problematic in cases when there is less or no power generation on cloudy days or during winter. Also, when panels are not effectively working or there is any other issue with the solar system you cannot get enough power.
It is a combination of both on and off-grid solar systems as it is connected to the grid and has a battery backup too. The solar inverter works as an on-grid inverter when there is a power supply from the grid. Excess power generated after powering the devices is fed into the grid and battery. This stored power from the battery is used in case of a power outage at night because during the day solar panels will power the house.
Solar panels, inverters, batteries, bidirectional & net meters, utility grid connectivity, along with voltage controlling and protection devices are necessary components for a hybrid solar system. This system is ideal for residential, industrial, agricultural lands, and commercial places.
I) Backup is Provided
Its battery backup is its biggest pro because the system is always working either with mainline supply, solar panels or with battery backup. With hybrid systems, there is a constant power supply. Here is another list of cons on grid Vs off grid Vs hybrid solar.
Also Read: What is Hybrid Solar System?
II) Can Function in Multiple Ways
A hybrid solar system works as an off-grid solar system when power is supplied through panels. After sunset, it turns into an on-grid solar system that is powered with power stored in the utility grid, and at times of power outages or insufficient power generation, it fulfills power requirements by converting to inverter mode and using stored power from batteries.
III) Equipped with Load Management
The active control of electricity consumption is known as load management or demand side management (DSM). Hybrid solar systems are equipped with components to control and adjust reference voltage.
IV) Optimal Utilization of Resources
Since every unit of power generated by solar panels is utilized either by devices, stored in batteries, or fed into the utility grid, there are least to nil chances of any wastage of power.
I) Complicated and Complex Control
A hybrid solar system has different types of power outputs and connections and not everyone is an expert with wires and terminals. Working and handling hybrid systems can be complex for some people to handle.
II) High Installation Cost
With a double connection, a hybrid system requires more wires and connectors, plugs, fuses, and other components for better and safer connections between inverters, panels, batteries, and utility grids. Including the costs of these components with already expensive inverters and batteries, a hybrid system is more expensive than the other two systems.
III) Limited Compatible Devices
Since the functioning of hybrid systems is complex, the number of devices compatible with them is also limited. Not every device can go with it because some may affect its performance too.
IV) More Space Required
With double connectivity and the inclusion of batteries along with an inverter and panels, a hybrid system may need more space than the other two systems.
How to Compare On Grid Solar System Vs Off Grid Solar System?
After getting to know the basics of on grid Vs off grid Vs hybrid solar, here is a table with brief info to compare all on grid solar system vs off grid systems.
|During power outages||Does not work||Works|
|High output days||Excess power sent to the grid||Wasted (if the battery is charged)|
|Low generation days||Grid supplies required to power||The battery is not charged|
|Night time (power supply)||Uses grid||Uses battery|
|Unit adjustment (in electricity bill)||Yes||No|
What is the Difference Between Off Grid and Hybrid Solar System? Which is Better Off Grid Solar or Hybrid Solar?
The basic differences between a hybrid and off grid system are that the former is connected with solar panels and utility grids both for power supply whereas the latter is connected with only solar panels. Though both of them are backed by batteries yet, the hybrid system is more efficient in comparison to the off-grid. This is because there will be no power supply once the battery is exhausted in an off-grid solar system whereas in hybrid the power supply is switched from battery to grid to panels, as and when required.
If you still wonder what is the difference between off grid and hybrid solar system here is a table for quick reference. This will also help you understand which is better off grid solar or hybrid solar.
|During power outages||Works||Works|
|High output days||Wasted (if the battery is charged)||Sent back to the grid|
|Low generation days||The battery is not charged||Grid supplies required to power|
|Night time (power supply)||Uses battery||Uses both (battery and grid)|
|Unit adjustment (in electricity bill)||No||Yes|
What is On Grid Vs Off Grid Vs Hybrid Solar Efficiency?
The overall efficiency of any solar system is influenced by the types of panels, materials of components, roof pitch, angle & orientation of panels, temperature, and shade. Here is a comparison between on grid vs off grid Vs hybrid solar efficiency.
1. A grid-tied or on-grid solar system is considered to be the most efficient solar panel system today. Without expensive storage solutions, an on-grid solar system is >95% efficient.
2. An off-grid solar system is less efficient with only a 70% to 80% efficiency rating, which is way less than an on-grid system. Inverters and batteries with low efficiencies lead to lower efficiency of the entire system. Also, no load power consumption is also relatively high in stand-alone (off-grid) systems.
3. A hybrid solar system contains components of both systems and with better, and more efficient inverters and batteries this system can have 85.1% efficiency. After this, let’s also learn about on grid vs off grid vs hybrid solar price.
Also See: Net Billing Vs Net Metering
What is On Grid Vs Off Grid Vs Hybrid Solar Price?
Factors determining the costs of any solar system are its components along with labor. On grid system is more cost-effective than other systems because it does not include batteries. The only expense is solar panels and inverters along with other components. Therefore, it is highly recommended for residential customers.
An off-grid system is paired with solar batteries; thus, they are more expensive than an on-grid solar system. Batteries with high-efficiency ratings and capacities are more expensive, further increasing the price of off-grid solar systems. Also, the expense tends to arise every couple of years when batteries need replacement.
The hybrid system is the costliest among all the three solar systems. It is because of the high price of solar inverters and batteries. The average cost of a 6 kW hybrid solar system ranges around $12654, including federal tax credit, out of which batteries are worth $8000.
Note: The price of a solar system and its components may vary depending on location, manufacturer, efficiency, and other factors. With this, you should have understood on grid vs off grid vs hybrid solar price.
What is On Grid Vs Off Grid Vs Hybrid Solar Lifespan?
The lifespan of a solar system depends on the life of its components like solar panels, inverters, and batteries. Here is a quick comparison between on grid Vs off grid Vs hybrid solar lifespan. The life expectancy of solar panels is at least 19 years and goes up to 50 years max. Similarly, solar inverters have distinct lifespans based on their type: string inverters (10 – 15 years), power optimizers (20 – 25 years), and micro inverters (15 – 25 years).
So, based on the lives of inverters and panels, an on-grid, off-grid, and hybrid solar panel may last somewhere between 20 and 25 years. After this, let’s see which is better on grid or off grid solar.
Also See: What is Activated Shelf Life?
Which is Better On Grid or Off Grid Solar?
Generally, on-grid solar systems are suggested for residential and commercial purposes as they are both cost-effective and efficient. On-grid solar systems are especially recommended for residential use as they do not include bulky batteries, and you need a few solar panels as the system is already connected to the grid.
But if you are in areas with unreliable power supply or the local electricity supply is too far to get a connection, then off-grid solar systems can be preferred.
An off-grid solar system is preferable for remote regions where the power supply is not reliable and constant. But it includes an extra cost of batteries so if you are comfortable with the budget you can proceed with it. But if you have a proper electricity supply then going off the grid completely is not recommended as it is not as reliable as a hybrid solar system.
In terms of reliability, constant power supply, and efficiency a hybrid solar system is recommended. So, if you are looking for a complete solar power solution and there are no budget limitations, you can opt for a hybrid system.
Also Read: 5 Major Disadvantages of Hybrid Inverter
Note: Choices and preferences must be made after consulting with the solar installer. We are not pressurizing on selecting or rejecting any particular solar system.
Well, today you learned about on grid Vs off grid Vs hybrid solar that included their pros, cons, and functioning. They all are ways to harvest solar power, but only the system of operation is different. I guess it is a good feature though because it can suit the requirements of people in different places. Which is better on grid or off grid solar or which is better off grid solar or hybrid solar? The answer to these depends on your budget and location. If there are no electricity issues in your area, then an on-grid system is good, otherwise, an off-grid would be preferred. Similarly, if budget is not a matter here then hybrid can be preferred for a constant power supply. Either way, your opinion, requirements, and choice matter the most here along with the advice of your local solar system provider and installer.