Choosing your solar system
Grid-Connected vs Hybrid vs Off-Grid

Introduction

Choosing the right solar system can be a daunting task especially as the technology improves and new products hit the market, but the right system can save you big bucks or give you total independence.

A key consideration is whether to go with the basic grid connected system or to look at total energy independence with an off grid system, or even somewhere in between.

To help you out we’ve explored the pros and cons of the three main choices here. But as always it pays to get in contact and we can discuss in person what the best system is going to be for your specific needs.

Grid-Connected

Grid-connected systems are the most common system we sell, and from a purely financial perspective offer the best return on investment.

This system comprises of panels on the roof connected to an inverter and with a connection to the grid.

We will always customise our systems to meet your specifications, but the “default” system might be 6.6kW of panels and cost around $7,000 after government rebates (we take care of the rebates, so you only ever have to pay the net cost), and we normally expect your electricity savings to pay for the system entirely after about 5 years. The panels will usually have a 20 to 25 year performance warranty so your overall savings will be significant!

For a grid-connected system you will use the power you’re generating if the sun is shining and you’re at home, but any excess power is sold back to the grid, and if you’re using more power than your system is generating (including obviously at night) then you’ll buy power off the grid.

Noting that the cost of buying electricity is much higher than how you get for selling (the “feed in tariff”), you get the best savings if you’re at home a lot during the day or have electrical devices scheduled to run at that time.

Hybrid

A hybrid system is exactly the same as a grid-connected system but adds in battery storage. This allows you to use your own generated power at times when the sun isn’t shining, really maximising the benefit from your panels.

Being grid-connected means that while your system will prioritise your own power consumption and then charging the battery, it will still sell excess power back to the grid as well as allowing you to buy power when required (eg your battery is flat).

The battery can also be configured to run key devices in the event of a blackout, though the battery is generally going to be much smaller than a full off grid system.

A classic example of a hybrid system would be the Tesla Powerwall 2 which is a fully integrated system including an inverter and 14kW lithium battery and currently retails for $16,000. However we do offer other alternatives if Elon Musk isn’t your cup of tea. With solar panels you’re looking in the ballpark of $23,000 for a new system, but a battery can usually be retrofitted to an existing system with a bit of work.

The hybrid system is a good investment that will have significant further reductions on your electricity bill and has exceptional energy security both in terms of using the grid as a backup to keep everything running over extended days of poor weather and using the battery as a backup if the grid goes out.

Off-Grid

An off-grid system is as it sounds, not connected to the grid at all. The main elements of this system are panels, regulators, inverter/chargers, and batteries.

Without the backup of the grid connection that the hybrid system has, an off grid home system will generally have much greater battery storage. We try to aim for enough storage to run your main appliances for three days, while a hybrid system might be half a day or one day at the most.

Off grid systems are an ideal option for remote locations or if you want total independence from energy companies.

As long as you have enough space for solar panels we can build a system to run any sized house, but generally speaking you are probably going to want to be fairly energy conscious because of the limited electrical supply. There are plenty of smart ways to improve your efficiency while maintaining a suitable level of comfort.

We offer a range of battery solutions with lithium batteries still being the best, but cheaper options such as lead-acid are available. Or you could try out something more exotic like a flow battery. And all in one solutions such as the Victron Easy Solar II GX can make installation and maintenance a breeze.

Conclusion

With decades of experience in the solar industry, we can design and install any of these systems to suit your specific requirements.

Contact us now so we can find the system that is right for you.

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