On Grid vs. Off Grid Solar Panels: Understanding the Difference

Updated: Apr 28

If you are driving through a neighborhood in Colorado or Wyoming and see solar on someone's roof, there is a 99% chance that that system is tied to the utility grid. If you are driving 20 miles down a dirt road in a National Forest and see solar panels, it's pretty likely that is an off grid system. If you're considering solar for your home's electricity, it is important to know the difference.


On Grid Solar Panel Systems

On grid solar panel systems are the most common installations in America, predicted to reach nearly 4 million homes in the US by 2020. The electricity produced by the panels is fed back into the utility grid and the homeowner's electric bill is credited for the kilowatt hours produced by the system. This is called net metering, and each utility does it a little bit differently.


Off Grid Solar Panel Systems

Off grid solar panel systems, also known as Stand Alone Power Systems (SAPS), are completely independent sources of energy. The electricity produced by the panels is stored in a battery to be used when the system is not receiving sunlight. Batteries can be expensive and most homeowners with an off grid solar system also have a back-up generator for particularly cloudy or low sunlight days.


Hybrid Solar Panel Systems

With the popularity of Tesla's Powerwall increasing, more and more homeowners are interested in having an on grid solar panel system with a battery backup. The most popular reason for this is grid failure. If the utility power goes out in your home, having a battery back-up will allow you to keep the lights on. Smart hybrid systems can also help combat time of use metering.


So what kind of solar is right for your home?

If you are looking to eliminate your electricity bill and go solar as soon as possible, chances are a grid-tied system will be your best bet. With Apollo Energy, all of our systems come "battery-ready" so that if storage is out of your price range right now, a battery back up could be a viable option in the future. We also install LG battery-backed systems for homeowners entirely off of the grid that are looking to generate clean, renewable energy on their own roof.


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