Grid-Tied vs. Off-Grid Solar: What's The Difference?

By Megan Murphy
11 May 2021

The actual system configuration might be a bit confusing, since there is a lot of information out there about solar installations. The following is a simple, baseline explanation of the three basic ways to go solar.


  • Solar panels + net metering
    • You make your own energy and any excess you produce flows back to the shared grid. The utility company reimburses you for this excess in the form of a credit on your utility bill, in a process called net metering. The credit is one-for-one, meaning that the credit you earn is equal to the cost of what you purchase for electricity. If the grid goes down, you lose power. 99% of our customers go solar this way.
  • Solar panels + battery backup + net metering
    • Like the above scenario, you’re still tied to the shared-grid and reimbursed through net metering. You also have home battery backup installed, which means you can store your own energy which (1) allows you to rely even less on the grid and (2) allows you to keep power when the grid goes down, as long as the battery lasts
  • Solar panels + battery backup only = off-grid
    • In this case, you’re not tied to the shared grid at all. You’re your own “virtual power plant” or stand-alone, closed circuit system. You have power as long as the sun shines and your battery has energy stored. If you produce excess and the battery is full, nothing happens with that extra. If you somehow run out of battery and the panels are clouded-over or covered (very rare), since you’re not tied to the grid, you won’t have power again until your panels get sun and begin producing.

“What makes the most sense for my house, my neighborhood? Is it better for me to stay grid-tied or go off-grid? What’s the difference in price with each type of system?”

These are all questions we’ll be glad to answer for you. Reach out to RisingSun Solar to begin the conversation. Our goal isn’t to sell you a system. It’s to educate you so you can make the best decision about your personal journey to go solar.