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April 25, 2016

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On-Grid/Off-Grid Systems Suitable for Your Business and Home

We all know that the sun is a very powerful energy source and thanks to it, we can harvest solar energy from its radiation. Science proved that the energy the sun provides for one hour is enough to provide global energy needs for one year. And since the sun is very generous especially to tropical countries, solar in the Philippines is definitely abundant particularly during the summer. There are three ways to harvest solar energy: on-grid or grid-tied, off-grid, and hybrid systems.

On-grid, also known as grid-tied, is the most common type of solar PV system. Grid-tied systems are connected to an electrical grid and allow households and businesses to harvest solar energy and electrical energy from the grid. When there is no demand for energy, the solar panels send excess electricity for use elsewhere. Owners then complete a net metering agreement, which allows households or even corporations to sell back excess electricity and use them as credits to lower next month’s electric bill.

On-grid systems, when upgraded to include a battery backup, become a hybrid system. These batteries are charged by both the solar panels and power grid and needs to be switched on either manually or with an automatic system to provide backup power for the building during an outage.

In line with the net metering agreement, distributors of electrical power such as Meralco has come up with a program to comply with the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, which allows the owner to have 100 kWp (kilowatt peak) installed solar panels under net metering.

Off-grid, on the other hand, is a solar system independent of an electric guild. Off-grid systems usually incorporate a battery, a backup source of energy, or sometimes both. They are more common in remote places where utility service is low. If you are ready to invest in solar energy, here are some pros and cons of both on-grid and off-grid solar systems:

On-grid

On-grids are simpler than off-grids and they are the most cost-effective to install. And thanks to the net metering agreement, the excess energy may be used for later or be credited in the next month’s bill, letting the owner save money. They also work the best during summer. The downsides are, they don’t work during grid outage and they can’t gather energy during the night.

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Off-grid

Off-grids are more reliable during a power grid outage because the energy is stored in the batteries. They can provide power when the grid is down and it can make the owner energy self-sufficient. Becoming energy self-sufficient is a form of security because power failures will not affect off-grid solar systems. However, off-grid systems are more complex to install. They require specialized equipment and caution must be exercised when setting them up. The owner must analyze the requirements so he could know how much to provide to cover the basic energy needs. The batteries, aside from being expensive, must also be monitored and they require regular check-up as well as periodic replacement.

Solar energy offers many benefits to the home and its residents. A reduction in electricity costs and usage are some of them but it depends on the type of solar PV system the owner will choose. And like with other things, a thorough analysis of the site, environment and budget must be done so that you will know what type of solar PV system is right for you.

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