BuildMost Guide | What to Know Further Before You Go Solar

Solar panels are the most visible part of a solar system. However, you need more products and might want to know more information before you really go solar. Here’s a simple guide to understanding how different solar power systems work and some advice on how to select the best system and products on BuildMost.

Main Components of a Solar System

All solar power systems work on the same basic principles, which involve 4 common products (but do not necessarily need all): solar panels, batteries, inverters, and electrical switchboards. Solar panels first convert solar energy or sunlight into direct current (DC) power (via photovoltaic/PV effect), and then the DC power can be stored in a battery or converted by a solar inverter into alternating current (AC) power (and sent to a switchboard in some types of solar systems) before it can be used in our homes or offices. 

3 Types of Solar Systems

● On-Grid Systems

Also known as grid-tie or grid-feed solar systems. They are the most common and widely used solar systems in homes and businesses. They are connected to the public electricity grid and require no batteries but use either solar inverters or micro-inverters. Usually, you can get paid a feed-in-tariff (FiT) or credits for the surplus energy you export. And similarly, you can draw electricity from the grid and pay for the amount you used.

People mostly choose on-grid systems because they are easy to install and cost-effective. You can get passive income from the excess energy produced by the systems. Private, commercial, or industrial buildings can take advantage of the “Accelerated Depreciation Benefit” (80% in a year) by setting up PV rooftop systems.


Image by brgfx on Freepik

● Off-Grid Systems

Also known as a stand-alone power system (SAPS). They are not connected to the public electricity grid and therefore require batteries for storage. They must be designed appropriately to supply households and businesses with enough power and battery capacity, even in winter when there is much less sunlight. 

Off-grid systems are far more expensive than on-grid ones because of the high cost of batteries and inverters. Therefore, they are usually used in remote areas far away from the electricity grid. There’s a growing market for off-grid solar battery systems even in cities and towns though, with the decreasing cost today. And people choose the systems because they can be self-reliant while don’t risk power outages due to grid failures and shutdowns.


Image by brgfx on Freepik

● Hybrid Systems

Hybrid solar systems are grid-connected with battery storage. With battery storage becoming more affordable, systems connected to the electricity grid can take advantage of battery storage as well. This means you can store solar energy that is generated during the day and use it at night and the grid works as a backup in case of depleted stored energy, allowing you to have the best of the two means. Plus, you can get cheap off-peak electricity (usually after midnight to 6 am). 


Image by macrovector on Freepik

References: 1. CNBC TV18 2. Clean Energy Reviews

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