Off-Grid vs. On-Grid Solar — What’s Right for You?

Published March 30, 2023

​​Since 2006, Lightwave Solar has installed over 250,000 photovoltaic solar panels for residents in the greater Nashville area. Whether you’re wanting a grid-tied solar energy system with battery storage or an off–the-grid solar system, we can install it! In this blog, we’ll highlight differences between these two solar energy solutions so you can decide which is the right fit for your home.

What Is an Off-Grid System?

Many people we talk with say they would love to live “off-grid,” meaning they want to generate 100% of their own electricity without relying on the utility. LightWave has installed several solar energy systems that do just that, and we can help you live off-grid if you choose to do so. 

However, off-grid solar energy systems can be twice as expensive as other options. The increased cost is due to how we have to design the system — it needs to produce enough power for all of your needs, even during the darkest days of winter. Then, during the rest of the year, the system is oversized. We recommend staying on the grid, and using your utility company as your daily “back-up” power source. With this set up, your solar energy + storage system can significantly reduce your daily grid consumption, but the grid is there when you need it. Of course, during grid failures, solar + storage will provide clean, reliable power for an unlimited number of days.

Is Off-Grid Solar Right for Me?

Not sure if an off-grid solar energy system is right for you? Here’s a list of good candidates for this type of solar project: 

  • Property owner with a remote home site that cannot get utility power
  • Owner of a “tiny home” or a home that has been designed to use minimal electricity 
  • Homeowner who wants to be their own utility, even in the middle of winter, closely managing their daily energy usage

Learn more about off-grid living and system design here.

What Is a Grid-Tied System?

Currently, about 95% of our residential solar customers choose to install a grid-tied solar + storage system. Grid-tied solar + storage systems provide homeowners with a very low-maintenance, clean energy system that helps reduce your electric bills, power your EV, and provide ample, renewable power during grid failures. When grid outages occur, the system will seamlessly take over your home’s electricity needs. All you have to do is check your mobile app for battery charge status and adjust your usage as needed. The next day, with a sunrise, you will have more power!

Why Choose a Grid-Tied System Over a Generator?

Generators are fine when it comes to producing power, but they can be noisy, smelly, and need regular check-ups, oil changes, and fuel deliveries. Most people don’t want to use generators for more than a couple of days because of the noise, exhaust, and/or fuel expense. Generators don’t provide clean electricity every day like solar energy + battery storage systems, nor do they reduce your electric bills. Generators also don’t qualify for the 30% federal tax credit. 

Is Grid-Tied Solar Right for Me?

If you’re unsure whether grid-tied solar is the right energy system for you, take a look at some of the criteria met by many homeowners who install grid-tied solar + storage systems:

  • Desire to use cleaner energy on a daily basis
  • Need for reliable, clean backup power for when the grid goes down
  • Unshaded roof space or yard space for solar panels
  • Ability to claim 30% federal tax credit

Call LightWave for Your Solar Energy Needs

Interested in learning more about solar energy + storage for your home? Learn more about general costs, FAQs and more here. Or, if you would like to request a solar quote, please book a time to talk with one of our solar consultants! You can book your phone call here.