On-Grid Vs Off-Grid Vs Hybrid Solar Panels

November 14, 2021

Solar panels all work under the same concept. Sunlight is first converted into DC power through a process called photovoltaic (PV) effect, then turned into AC power through a solar inverter, to be used to run appliances/machinery. Whether excess solar energy is directed back into the electricity grid for credits, or stored in a battery storage, it all depends on the kind of system used.

Regardless if the solar configuration implemented is On-Grid, Off-Grid or Hybrid, the main components used in the systems are the same.

  • Solar panels are usually made up of silicon-based PV cells that convert sunlight to direct current electricity (DC power). The type of panel, the tilt angle, shading, dirt and even ambient temperature all play a role in the efficiency of the panel. Click here to learn more on which kind of solar panel best fits your needs.
  • A solar inverter converts the generated DC power into Alternating Current (AC power), which can be utilized properly to power home and business appliances.
  • Batteries store the solar energy and usually come in 2 main types, lead-acid (AGM & Gel) and lithium-Ion. Battery capacity is generally measured is either Amp-hours (Ah) for lead-acid, or kilowatt hours (kWh) for lithium-ion. Lithium-ion based batteries typically supply up to 90% of their available capacity per day, while lead-acid batteries generally only supply 30% to 40% of their total capacity per day, as a way to increase battery life.

Electricity Switch Boards, receives AC electricity from the solar inverter in a common on-grid solar system, and is then drawn into the various circuits and appliances in your home. Any excess electricity generated by the solar system is sent to the main utility y grid through an energy meter.

Now that we understand the components of a solar power system, let’s dive in.

On-Grid Solution

The most common and widely used system for homes and businesses is the on-grid system. They do not require batteries and use either solar inverters or micro-inverters and are connected to the public electricity grid. Excess solar power generated is exported to the electricity grid and you usually get paid a feed-in-tariff (FiT) for the energy exported.

In the event of blackouts, on-grid solar systems are not able to function or generate electricity due to safety reasons unlike hybrid systems with battery storages which are able to continue supplying some power during a blackout. Once electricity reaches the switchboard, excess solar energy runs through the meter, which calculates how much power you are purchasing. Electricity that is sent to the grid from your solar system can then be used by other consumers on the grid. When your solar PV plant is not operating, or you are using more electricity than your system is producing, you will start consuming electricity from the grid.

Off-Grid Solution

Off-grid systems are not connected to the electricity grid and therefore require battery storage. Off-grid solar systems must be designed to generate enough power throughout the year and have enough battery capacity to meet  users’ requirements, during all seasons of the year. Off grid solutions are usually in less demand because they are more expensive than on-grid, this mostly goes back to the high cost of batteries and off-grid inverters. This type of solar solution is ideal for remote areas and isolated establishments that are not connected to the main utility grid.

Off-grid system have no access to the public electricity grid. Once your appliances have used up the electricity it needs from your solar power, any excess power will be sent to your battery bank and will stop receiving power once the battery is full. During night-time or on cloudy days, your appliances will draw power from the batteries. During times of the year when access to sunlight is lower (as in winter for example) batteries are low on charge, which is why it is best to have a backup power source, such as a backup generator or gen-set that can adequately supply the property with electricity and charge the batteries at the same time.

Hybrid Solutions

Modern hybrid systems are a combination of solar and any other form of electricity generator, such as Diesel Generator or Wind Turbine.. Due to the decreasing cost of battery storage, systems that are already connected to the electricity grid can start benefiting from battery storage as well, which allows for stored solar energy that is generated during the day, to be used at night. When the stored energy is depleted, the grid is there as a backup. Like off-grid solutions, after consuming any amount of solar power from your appliances, any excess power will be sent to your battery bank, which will stop receiving power once the it is full and start using it for your appliances during night time until depleted.

Depending on how the hybrid system is set up and whether your utility allows it, once your batteries are fully charged, any excess solar power not required by your appliances can be exported to the grid  through smart meter. When your solar system is not in use, and if you have drained the usable power in your batteries, then your appliances will start drawing power from the grid.

To make a more informed decision on what works best for your business or property, get a free consultation at Sun Capture here. (


Sun Capture is a solar energy services company in Saudi Arabia helping businesses in the GCC bridge the gap between the current rising energy demands and costs, and the coming national move towards affordable renewable energy. To learn more about how solar can help your energy needs and bring your business in line with Saudi Vision 2030, contact us today.