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Grid-Connected vs. Stand-Alone: What’s the Best Solar Option for Residential Buyers in NJ

At the outset, this question sounds like the age-old tussle between self-sufficiency and external dependence. Standalone solar systems sound like a great option on paper, because you get complete freedom from utility companies. You don’t have to deal with there bills ever again.

On the other hand, grid-tied solar systems come with their own unique set of advantages that cannot be ignored. In order to find out what works best for the homeowners of the garden state, let’s understand them better. 

Standalone or Off-grid Solar Systems 

A standalone solar system is not connected to the grid. Therefore, it requires a massive battery system to store solar power generated during the day and supply it to you during the night. However, you will be completely free from making any kind of payment to the utility company.

Pros

  • Entirely self-sufficient
  • Grid failures are irrelevant to you

Cons

  • Requires additional components like batteries, charge controller, and so on. They are expensive to purchase and maintain
  • New Jersey doesn’t receive enough sunlight during the winter months to support your energy needs through day and night
  • You may require a diesel generator for the winter months, which defeats the clean energy goal of solar power. Not to mention the costs of owning and operating such a setup
  • Generators and batteries require replacement every few years. The cost simply doesn’t match the benefits.
  • You cannot take advantage of net metering.
  • TREC program not available. 

Grid-tied Solar Systems

In the case of grid-tied solar systems, the grid acts like a giant battery backup. Whenever you run out of solar power, or need additional power, the grid supplies it to you seamlessly. If you want an additional layer of resilience against power outages, you can invest in a small battery setup for backup power.

Pros

  • Incredibly inexpensive
  • Net metering allows you to actually earn money by diverting excess solar power to the grid
  • Run high-power appliances like ACs, water heaters, room heaters, etc. without overloading your solar power system
  • Take advantage of TRECs, get credits worth $91.20 for every 1,000 kWhrs your system produces for 15 years!

Cons

  • Utility companies charge a fixed minimum monthly fee, which you will have to pay, however this is usually just a couple dollars per month. 

Conclusion

Standalone solar systems are not the ticket to energy independence. At best, they are last-resort solutions for households in remote locations where there’s no grid access. Whether grid access is available, grid-tied solar systems are the best choice functionally as well as financially.

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