In this world of climate change, outrageous resource prices and the unstable financial situation of many homes, going solar is a very reasonable choice. However, the road to energy independence isn’t always completely straight. In fact, there are numerous turns you have to make until you choose the perfect system for your home. Here’s a little guide that will make your decision easy.
There are several types of solar systems and all of them have their good and bad sides.
If you wish to be completely independent of the grid, you can opt for an off-grid system. This system uses batteries that control excess production and excess demand periods and utilizes a generator that protects against shortfalls. Most people who live in remote places far away from the grid opt for an off-grid system, because it’s just cheaper than to extend a power line. It’s also quite practical if you have a mixed renewable power system—solar and wind systems. However, an off-grid system doesn’t usually generate as much power as some other systems.
This type of solar system is connected both to a home and the usual electric grid. This means that owners can power their home from their home’s solar power system and the utility grid. It allows people to have a balance between production and demand and even sell some of the unused energy to the utility company through a process called Net Metering. Basically, your electricity provider will pay or give you credit for the electricity your system feeds into their grid. This system also costs the least because it requires only a few components.
This type is very similar to the previous system, but it also utilizes a battery backup. This means you can have a complete balance between production and demand and be protected in case of power outages. If there is plenty of sunshine that the supply exceeds the demand, the battery allows you to store excess energy for later (when the production is lower or in case of power outages). However, the constant cycle of charging and emptying of the battery can reduce the system’s efficiency. Also, this system is very complicated to design and install, so it’s the most expensive one, too.
In order to use the power your system generates, you need an inverter that will convert the direct power (DC) into alternating current (AC) that is used in homes. String inverters are always a good option since they are inexpensive, small and practical, especially if you live in an area that has good sun conditions. Unlike module-level power electronics (MLPE inverters) where each panel has its own inverter, a string inverter takes all of the DC power your solar system produced and changes it to AC. There are many models on the market but, for now, efficient SMA inverters showed to be very practical for both residential and commercial use. They do a pretty good job with inversion and even offer other services that can ensure your whole system is working cost-effectively.
People always tend to think about the cost of their system (after all, this is a large purchase), but the price should really not be a deciding factor. Today, there are rebates, incentives and other different financing methods that can hugely help you finance your solar system. This means that many people can install their system for a very reasonable fee and start saving money really fast.
Picking the right installer is just as important as choosing the right system. Make sure to opt for professionals with certification, licenses and plenty of good referrals. Also, according to recent research, it turns out that large national solar companies tend to leave you with a bigger bill for the installation and equipment than their local counterparts. So, don’t hesitate to compare prices and look for smaller, local companies.
So, there you have it, a very simple guide to choosing the right solar system for your home. Of course, if you want any more information and a more personalized design, there are great consultants that can help you find a good system. However, this guide can help ease you into the world of solar and ensure you have some information before you contact your installer.