Different Types of Solar PV Systems

There are 3 main types of solar system setups that people can opt for when venturing into the solar market.

Let’s break these 3 systems down so you can understand which system may be better suited for your property and circumstances.

Grid-Connected Solar PV System

Grid Connected Solar PV Systems are the most commonly installed systems. These systems are connected to the grid and do not require a battery system.

However it is possible to add a battery system to your Grid Connected System, post purchase.

If you have a Grid-Connected solar system, any generated energy you use is essentially free. Any excess energy is sent to the Grid (unless you have battery storage) and you will receive reimbursement in the form of a Feed-in Tariff (FIT).

TIP: Batteries such as Sonnen, Tesla Powerwall 2, Senec and Enphase can be added to any existing system regardless of the existing solar inverter.

Grid connected Solar PV System

Grid Connected Solar PV System with Battery

A Grid Connected Solar PV System with battery is sometimes referred to as a Hybrid System. This system stores the excess energy generated by a Solar PV System for the home to use when the solar panels are no longer generating electricity from the sun.

A battery prevents the need to use grid energy if you have accumulated enough during the day to run your home at night. The added benefit here is if the system has not generated enough energy to use during this time, it can use energy from the grid as well.

TIP: Batteries such as Sonnen, Tesla Powerwall 2, Senec and Enphase can be added to any existing system regardless of the existing solar inverter.

Grid connected Solar PV System With Battery Back-up

Off-Grid Solar PV System

An “Off Grid” Solar System, is also called a ‘stand-alone’ system. This system is not connected to the grid and requires a battery system. Off Grid Solar PV Systems are rare and usually only found in rural areas that have difficulties connecting to the grid.

Off Grid Solar PV System

These systems must be designed to be able to support enough energy and storage to meet the needs of the home or property month to month. A Backup Generator can be put in place in case the Solar PV System is not generating enough electricity due to weather conditions at certain times of the year.

Whilst going Off-Grid sounds appealing, it’s important to note a few obstacles that come with deciding to go Off-Grid:

  • Off-Grid systems and setups are substantially more expensive than Grid Connected systems.
  • The system, batteries and back-up generator can set you back over $30,000.
  • To be able to go Off-Grid you’ll need to go rural or have a large block of land to accommodate for the system.
  • Your local council and Distribution Network Service Provider (DNSP) may need to provide permission dependent on your location.
 
If you know which solar system set-up you’d like to install or need to ask an expert, get 3 Obligation FREE Quotes from installers to compare prices and systems!

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Beginners Guide to Solar Power

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.