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Would You Rather Be On the Grid, or Off the Grid?

7/21/2009 12:32:24 PM

Tags: question to readers, solar power, wind power, renewable energy, on grid, off grid

If you’re considering installing solar-electric panels or a home wind turbine, one of the first questions to ask is whether you want to be on the grid or off the grid.

What’s the difference? A grid-tied system connects to the local electric utility, so you can sell power to the utility, or buy power when you need it. A grid-independent system does not connect to the local power lines. Instead, you produce all the power you need for your own home.

Both options have their pros and cons.  First, a grid-connected system is usually cheaper. For one thing, you don’t have to produce all your own power, so you can choose to purchase a smaller system. You will also need to purchase less equipment, because a grid-tied system doesn’t require batteries.

However, for some people off the grid is the only way to go because it allows you to be truly independent of the utility. During a power outage, your lights stay on. And who needs fossil fuels? You’re producing all the power you need from clean renewable energy. Also, if you live in a remote area that doesn’t already have electric service, an off-grid system can end up being cheaper than extending electric lines to your house.

So, tell us what you think. If you installed solar-electric panels or a wind turbine, would you want to connect to the grid? If you already have a home renewable energy system, what did you decide about a grid connection, and are you happy with that decision? Share your thoughts by posting a comment below.

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