To tie (the inverter to the grid), or to not to tie – that is the question – frequently asked by home owners and businesses. It seems like many people are in India are confused which kind of solar installation would be most suitable for them and help them save or make maximum money through solar – on-grid or off-grid. Our solar experts and Sukam would like to show you the way and clear all your doubts about off-grid solar.
What is off-grid Solar Installation and how is it Different from On-grid?
When you install solar panels on your rooftop and connect them to a solar inverter which is in turn connected to a battery bank, you have got an off-grid solar.
How an off-grid solar installation works?
Solar Panels generate DC (Direct Current) power which gets stored in the batteries via a solar charge controller or a solar power conditioning unit (PCU) which has an in-built solar charge controller. When the batteries get fully charged through solar, the Solar PCU intelligently disconnects the mains and power your house or office through solar energy stored in batteries. It converts the DC of batteries into AC (Alternating Current) because most of our electrical appliances are meant to run on AC only. You save money because you use the free solar energy, which you have generated through solar panels, to power your electrical load such as computers, fans, lights, coolers etc.
Whereas in on-grid solar installation a special grid-tie inverter is used which is tied to the grid (main electricity supply) – it works in connection with the grid. You use solar power as the solar system generates it – there are no batteries to store the excess solar energy generated.
3 Advantages of Off-grid Solar over Grid-tie
1. The biggest advantage of off-grid solar is that you are able to use solar energy even when there is no sun i.e. in the evenings or on very cloudy days because you have stored the solar energy in your battery bank. It gives you freedom from the grid – you become more energy self-sufficient.
2. Off-grid solar is very beneficial for the health of batteries because there is no conversion and no loss of energy. DC made by solar panels goes straight into batteries – as you know batteries can only DC for charging. This makes the charging more efficient.
3. You can use it anywhere even in very remote areas where power cuts are very long and frequent. As solar is the main source of energy and not the main grid, you get power irrespective of the power cuts.
Why Off-grid Solar is More Suitable for India
You may find it hard to believe but even in 2015 there are places in India which have not been electrified since British Raj ended in India. Forget about power cuts, these fellow Indians have not experienced power at all. They have been making things work through kerosene lamps and diesel gensets (in cases when they can afford it). As we know, both generate toxic fumes and ruin the health of users as well as the environment around them. Off-grid solar can really be a life-saver here. The installation is not dependent on grid and lets you manufacture your own electricity.
Many small towns and tier 2 cities face many power cuts which last more than 10 hours per day on an average especially during summers.
Off-grid solar is perfect for places where the grid supply does not exist or is very bad leading you long hours of power cuts.