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

| 7/21/2009 12:32:24 PM

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.

heath israel
8/16/2010 8:00:09 AM

I totally agree with on-grid (in a city). a) we have netmetering in NYC so the excess is sold back at the price I buy. b) we have an old house with window units. In the summer, it can be a pretty big energy drain and it helps to have some backup juice from the power company to help cool. c) wind isn't a good option so we only have solar...and we need electricity at night you know. (the batteries would have to be stored in my basement and that's not a good option so battery backup isn't very practical for me).

9/16/2009 8:56:06 PM

I don't know if you care to hear more feedback 3 months after the article, but I'm contributing mine anyway... If I could be fully independent by providing my own energy I would love it. I'm not opposed to being connected to the utility grid to sell power back, as long as I maintain my self-sufficiency. Also, the idea of a neighborhood sort of communally producing and sharing power is very appealing to me; if there was a way for each house to have a backup supply before passing on the excess to one's neighbor. Oh, how I would love to escape the congested sprawl of Los Angeles...

7/27/2009 7:27:38 PM

I lived with my wife for 5 years off the grid. We had a small system, less than $5000, that suplied all the power we needed. We had a; well pump, washer and gas dryer, sewing machine, side by side refridgerator/freezer, and tv/dvd player. Nothing was special energy saving appliances, and we lived a very normal life. It's amazing how much electricity is wasted in the average home. From incandecant lights to ghost drawing appliances. We now live in a small town and wish we didn't haveto be hooked to the grid.

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