A grid-tied solar system is integrated into an existing utility power supply. When the sun is shining, this system pushes energy into the grid, storing it like a bank. When the sun goes down, energy is pulled back out of the bank (the grid). In this manner, electric bills may be driven close to a net-zero state – where the amount of energy used equals the amount of energy produced.
Batteries may be combined with this system as backup in the event the power from utility is down. In this case, batteries are used in place of the grid, powering critical loads and recharging while the sun is shining.
An off-grid solar energy system is completely separate from utility power. These systems utilize batteries to provide power while the sun is not shining. While these systems can be sized to serve an entire household, such an application requires a potential shift to a more energy-efficient lifestyle. Off-grid systems are best used for small setups, such as outdoor lights and signs, or even trailers..
Solar energy systems have various construction possibilities. One popular method involves mounting the panels to the roof of an already established building. This option is usually the least expensive since the structure for mounting the modules is already in place.
Ground mounted solar systems are another popular solution. This construction features a great deal of flexibility to meet specific needs. Ground mounts may be set up as simple structures, carports, or motorized to face the sun all day.