Most of our homes here in Aotearoa have a one-way connection to the national grid which is how we get our power. That power is generated by power stations, hydro dams, gas, geothermal, windfarms etc. and supplied via electricity retailers which we pay for monthly as consumers.
The price that we pay fluctuates depending on how much energy we use and the price of power at the time. There’re a few different factors that influence electricity prices, such as your own usage, how many people in your neighbourhood are using it, how it was generated and distance from a power plant. One of the reasons people opt for solar is to reduce or in some cases even eliminate their monthly power bills.
When you choose to go solar you have two options – grid-tied and off-grid which have different costs and benefits and suit different situations.
What is grid-tied solar?
While a common misconception is that if you have solar panels on your roof, you are off-grid, the reality is most solar-powered homes are still connected to the main grid (grid-tied) but instead of a one-way connection where you are just taking the energy, it is a two-way connection where you can also give back energy to the grid.
With solar you essentially have your own power station on your roof that generates free power for your home. If you need more power than your panels can provide at any given time, then your system will automatically draw power from the grid which you pay for from your electricity retailer.
The flip side is if your panels generate more energy than you need, that energy can be sold back to the grid which makes you money. If you have a battery, any excess energy can then be stored for use at night time.
What is off-grid solar?
Off-grid solar systems are more common in remote or rural areas where the system can be completely off-grid. Not being connected to the grid at all means you don’t have the security of the grid supply if you are unable to generate and store enough power from your solar system.
This means that off-grid solar systems are generally much bigger than a grid-tied system and offer large amounts of battery storage. They may also have a backup generator to ensure that your home can still have power if you’re not generating enough.
As you can imagine, this makes off-grid systems much more expensive to install. The majority of off-grid systems are installed in places where a grid connection is not available at all.
Currently, Lightforce only installs grid-tied systems but we are able to recommend off-grid solutions for customers that require them.