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Solar Power Primer. Types of Solar Power Systems.

 

Roof-Ground Mount in Haiti

 

A solar electric system may be completely independent of the grid or designed to primarily feed power into the grid. It can also be a hybrid of the two:

OFF-THE-GRID

  • Panels
  • Mounting structure, unless building-integrated
  • Combiner Box
  • Cable to exterior disconnect
  • Exterior disconnect for DC entering home
  • DC Panel
  • Charge controller
  • Cable to Battery
  • Disconnect for Battery
  • Battery
  • Battery interconnect cables
  • Ventilated battery box
  • Battery Meter
  • Cable to inverter
  • Inverter
At this point you have household AC, which is easily run to a standard household load center. Most systems also include:
  • Back-up generator
  • Exterior disconnect for generator

Sometimes things can be simplified, but as you can see, a stand-alone system takes more than just panels!


GRID-INTERTIE

Can be as simple as:

  • Panels
  • Mounting structure, unless building-integrated
  • Inverter
Grid Tie inverters are getting more and more installer-friendly and some even include AC and DC disconnects built in.


GRID-INTERTIE W/ BATTERY

This system provides blackout protection. The required equipment is similar to an off-the-grid system although specific components will differ. A smaller, maintenance-free battery may be more appropriate, for example.

Both types of Grid-Intertie systems are designed to allow selling electricity to a utility company. Rates and policies vary by state. Utility approval is required. See recommended links for details.