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Home » On-Grid and Off-Grid Solar System – What’s the Difference?

On-Grid and Off-Grid Solar System – What’s the Difference?

Are you thinking of taking the plunge towards renewable energy? Installing a solar system is no joke; in fact, it is a significant decision. When you are investing in green energy, you have to make the right choices in getting a piece of equipment that lasts. 

In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, the right solar system will help lower your energy costs. But choosing one that matches your needs is not an easy feat. Fret not, we have got you covered. In this blog, we’ll delve into the differences between on-grid and off-grid solar systems and help you determine which one is better for you.

Let’s begin by understanding an on-grid and off-grid solar system one by one.

On-grid and off-grid solar system

What is an On-Grid Solar System?

An on-grid solar system is connected directly to the electrical grid. The solar panels generate electricity from sunlight and feed the power directly into the local utility grid. The main components of an on-grid system are listed below:

1. Solar Panels

The photovoltaic panels are installed on the rooftops and other suitable locations to capture the sun’s rays and convert them into electricity. 

2. Inverter

An inverter is a common feature of both on-grid and off-grid solar systems. It converts the electricity generated by the panels into alternating current(AC), which is the type of current used in homes and industries. 

3. Grid Connection

The main difference between an on-grid and off-grid solar system lies in the grid. Excess electricity can be sent as a backup to the grid when the solar system generates excess energy that is required on-site.

4. Net Meter

You will always find a net meter installed in on-grid systems. The meter tracks the total electricity consumption of a household and credits the excess amount to the homeowner’s utility bill. 

An on-grid solar system is reliable as the stored electricity can feed power when the panels are not producing any energy. This happens at night and on cloudy days. House owners can even offset their consumption and earn credits for the backup power sent to the grid. 

Now, let’s delve into the details of an off-grid solar system and what it entails.

What is Off-Grid Solar System?

The key difference between an on-grid and off-grid solar system is that an off-grid system does not have an electrical grid. It is a stand-alone system that’s designed to generate and store all the energy needed to meet the demands of households, businesses, and power stations. The key features of the system are:

1. Solar Panels

Similar to on-grid system, off-grid systems have solar panels to capture the sun’s radiation and produce electricity.

2. Charge Controller

It regulates the flow of electricity from the PV panels to the battery bank. The controller prevents overcharging and allows the batteries to be charged efficiently.

3. Battery Bank

An off-grid system has an array of lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries to store the excess electricity for use during the night or on cloudy days. 

4. Backup Generator

Some off-grid systems have an additional backup generator to provide power when solar generation is insufficient due to extended periods of bad weather.

Off-grid systems are usually used in remote locations where grid connections are difficult or expensive to install. 

With the basics clarified, let’s understand the key differences between an on-grid and off-grid solar system.

On-Grid Vs. Off-Grid Solar System: A Detailed Comparison

Here are the key differences between an on-grid and off-grid solar system: 

CriteriaOn-Grid Solar SystemOff-Grid Solar System
Grid connectionConnected to the gridNot connected to the grid
Energy dependenceRelies on the grid for backup during power outagesOperates independently
Battery StorageMinimal to no batteries requiredA bank of batteries is required for storing excess electricity
Backup powerThe grid serves as a backup during outagesCan include a backup generator
Operating costLower cost with greater power savingsExpensive due to battery storage
Grid stabilityStable power supply but can be affected due to grid outageSelf-reliant and not influenced by grid outages
Excess ElectricityExcess electricity can be sold back to the grid(net metering)Excess energy is stored in batteries and wasted if not used
SuitabilityIdeal for urban areas with reliable grid connectionIdeal for remote locations with unreliable grid access
Energy ManagementLess control over consumption and storageComplete control
Environmental ImpactReduces emissionsIt also reduces carbon emissions
MaintenanceLow maintenance as only solar panels need regular upkeepRequires regular maintenance of batteries and other components
Example Use CasesResidential and commercial areas with stable grid connectionRemote cabins, rural areas, and places with unreliable grid access

While an on-grid and off-grid solar system both have their own features and benefits, there are a few factors to consider before investing in a power system.

Let’s quickly check out a few factors before you purchase a solar system.

Which Solar System is the Right Choice for You?

Are you confused about on-grid and off-grid solar systems? The decision depends on factors like your location, budget, environment, and energy consumption patterns. Here is a complete guide to help you make the right choice:

1. Assess Your Energy Consumption

Review your past electricity bills. It’s important to calculate your average energy consumption in kilowatt-hours (KWH). Decide whether you want to offset your energy consumption or not.

2. Location

  • On-Grid – If you are living in an urban location with good grid access and net metering, an on-grid system may be a better choice. You can even sell excess electricity back to the grid and earn credits.
  • Off-Grid – If you live in a remote area with poor grid access and frequent power outages, then off-grid is better suited for you.

3. Budget and Financial Aspect

  • On-Grid – It is cheaper as no additional investment in batteries is required. Plus, you get additional benefits like tax exemptions, rebates, and incentives.
  • Off-Grid – Huge upfront costs due to complex systems but long-term savings in utility bills.

4. Maintenance and System Longevity

  • On-Grid – These systems require less maintenance as the demand can be supplemented by the grid and the solar panels have a long lifespan.
  • Off-Grid – Off-grid systems require extensive maintenance, and the battery needs to be replaced at regular intervals.

5. Backup Power Needs

Is uninterrupted power an absolute necessity for your lifestyle and business? Then invest in off-grid systems that are capable of handling extended power outages because on-grid solar systems cannot function if the grid goes down.

6. Consult with Professionals

It’s best to consult solar energy experts, as they will give personalized recommendations tailored to your situation, location, and financial needs.

Ultimately, the decision to choose between an on-grid and off-grid solar system depends on your specific needs. It should align with your budget, location, and energy needs. Carefully weigh your options and conduct a thorough analysis before investing in a single system.

Now, let’s move on to frequently asked questions about on grid and off grid solar systems.

FAQs – On-Grid and Off-Grid Solar System

Why choose the off-grid solar system?

Power outages are really common and cause great inconvenience. They are unpredictable and hamper day-to-day activities. An off-grid system doesn’t depend on any grid, thereby providing an uninterrupted power supply.

What is the disadvantage of on-grid?

On-grid systems do not provide power during blackouts or extended power outages. If the grid is damaged, then no solar energy can be produced. These are some of the disadvantages of an on-grid system.

What are the two advantages of a grid system?

There are many advantages to a modern grid electrical system. However, the two main benefits are as follows:

  • Reduction in energy losses, congestion, and efficient power generation.
  • Reliable and improving power quality with enhanced customer benefits.

What is meant by grid?

A grid-connected solar system is a power generator that is connected to a utility grid. The energy generated is transmitted via the grid to run various home appliances. It’s easy to install, with no complex systems involved.

Can an on-grid and off-grid solar system work without a battery?

Yes, they can work without batteries. However, this works when you have a hybrid inverter that converts AC current into solar energy and there is sufficient sunlight.


To sum it up, the distinction between an on-grid and off-grid solar system lies in their own features. While both are extensively used to generate electricity, the choice remains yours as to which power system suits you best. Always ensure that the solar panels are high-quality.

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