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A homeowner in Florida knows how power bills can shoot up, especially during the hot, summer months. No wonder, in 2016, the state was third in the nation in electricity consumption (after Texas and California). Fortunately, people hailing from the Sunshine State can make use of the abundant sunlight that they get throughout the year. Be it a happening city like Tampa or a quaint town like Clearwater, more and more homeowners today depend on solar panels to power their homes and appliances. If you are on the lookout for the ways to reduce your utility expenditure, switch to solar. Apart from cutting back on your monthly power bills, the clean energy from the sun will also help you to keep the environment safe. So if you are contemplating switching to solar, learn the difference between grid-tied and off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Grid-Tied PV Systems

As far as grid-tied systems are concerned, they are connected to the utility company’s power and distribution grid. You know that solar panels continue to produce electricity provided they receive direct sunlight for eight to 10 hours. The power generated is distributed throughout the main panels. Now how much electricity your PV system will produce will depend on the amount of direct sunlight the arrays receive during the day. For example, units with a production capacity of 5kW will produce sufficient electricity to meet the power consumption of an average US household. Your PV system can generate more power than what is necessary. If you have a grid-tied system, you can sell the surplus energy back to the utility company and receive credits, which will be reflected in your subsequent electricity bill.

A grid-tied system will help you save your hard-earned money with rooftop solar via net metering and enhanced energy production. Besides, when you have this system in place, you can save a considerable amount on equipment and installation expenses. Without net metering, residential panels are not a practical idea from the financial perspective. The utility grid also serves as a virtual battery with no need for repair, upkeep or replacement. This is not the case with traditional battery systems in which more power and money is wasted.

Off-Grid Solar Panels

When it comes to off-grid systems, they operate independently without the city’s utility grid. If you opt for it, the panels will generate sufficient electricity to meet your household’s energy consumption. However, during the evening, the production capacity reduces while the electricity consumption increases. This is where the importance of a battery and inverter comes into play. The battery serves as the storehouse of energy that can be used later when the sun is down or when the sky is overcast. The generator, on the other hand, acts as a backup source.

Though the price of solar equipment and inverters dipped in the last couple of years, batteries come expensive and call for periodic maintenance. You can choose an off-grid system, but you need to shell out more money to set it up.

As far as Florida is concerned, you cannot go completely off-grid, as the state’s laws require you to stay connected to the grid of your utility company. However, if you plan to build a new home in a remote place outside Florida, an off-grid installation will be your best bet.

Thanks to the abundant, year-long sunshine, solar panels are the ideal choice for homeowners in Tampa and other cities across Florida.  It’s true, that as of now, you cannot go completely off-grid just like the homeowners in some neighboring states.  However, as you can see, grid-tied solar panels have their unique benefits. The cost of installation is comparative low when it comes to the grid-tied systems, and you can always rely on the city grid as an alternative power source. Therefore, invest in a grid-tied unit this year and start powering your home with solar energy.

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