Installing Solar Panels: What’s the Difference Between Grid-Tied and Battery Energy Storage Systems?

Installing Solar Panels: What's the Difference Between Grid-Tied and Battery Energy Storage Systems?

When you decide to go the solar route, figuring out how you’re going to store energy for use in times when there isn’t enough sunlight to meet your power needs is one of the biggest elements to consider. Your solar panel installer can talk you through the different energy storage options that are available to you. Together, you can decide what’s best for your situation. However, going in to that conversation armed with a basic knowledge of the two basic setups–grid-tied versus battery solar panel systems–will ensure that you and your solar expert are on the same page, and that you make the best-informed decision possible.

A grid-tied solar panel system is, as it sounds like, connected to the general power grid. Because the sun is such a bountiful resource, it’s quite possible that, at times, your solar panels will create more power than you can use. With a grid-tied system, that excess power is converted to AC current via a grid-tie inverter and then is essentially sold to the power company to be used elsewhere. A metering program records how much of your power goes through this process, and you are credited that amount against your monthly electricity bill. On days when there isn’t enough sun shining, you’ll also be able to draw power from the grid to keep your lights on and your appliances running. A grid-tied solar power installation is great if you are using a combination of solar energy and traditionally generated electricity to power your home.

The other commonly used option for how your solar energy is stored is a battery-based system. This is a closed system that is not connected to the power grid. Instead of excess power getting converted into electricity and being sold to the power company, that converted electricity is stored in rechargeable batteries. One of the main benefits of the battery model is that it puts you in total control of your power. You can use the stored electricity whenever you need it, particularly at night or on days when the sun isn’t shining, and at no additional cost. If you decided to install solar panels in order to use solar energy as your primary power source, battery storage is an excellent option.

As a homeowner who is interested in solar panel installation you do not, of course, need to know everything about the subject. However, going in to the process of designing and installing your solar panel system with some basic ideas of the different energy storage options available will help you make well-informed decisions and will make the planning conversations with your solar expert much easier.