The exact pros and cons of photovoltaic solar power depend partly on whether you have a grid-tied system or an off-grid system.  So, what exactly are those pros and cons?

Off-grid Solar

Off-grid solar systems require substantial maintenance because of the battery banks necessary for storing electricity.  These batteries require occasional replacement and can be a fairly expensive investment on top of the solar panels.  However, if you live far from the power grid it can be far cheaper to have a solar system than to pay for connection to the grid.  Also, if the grid goes down your power source will not be affected.

Grid-tied Solar

Grid-tied systems without battery backup are the cheapest to set up for most people.  They do not offer any protection if the power grid they are tied into goes down, but they do offer the possibility of selling excess power to the local power company provided that the power company is set up to accept that.  This should be checked before you set up a Grid-tied solar Power System.

Grid-tied Solar with Battery Backup

It is also possible to set up a system that is Grid-tied but has a backup battery bank.  This is considerably more expensive than the standard batteryless Grid-tied System, but it means that if the grid goes down you will not have a power outage due to that failure.

In the end, which system is best depends on your needs and how you plan to use your photovoltaic array.  Photovoltaic power is not a one size fits all technology, and while the array of options in systems can be confusing, at least it gives you a good chance of obtaining a system that suits your needs.

Photovoltaic Systems: Off-Grid or Grid -Tied?

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