Off-Grid systems are independent of the utility power grid. They generate electricity, store it, and make it available for use without any connection to the power grid.
Grid-Tied systems use PV panels to generate DC power. The DC power goes to a grid interactive (grid-tied) inverter which converts the PV panel DC power to 240 volt AC power that is compatible with the power grid. The power from the PV panels goes (via the grid tie inverter) to supply the household power needs. If the PV system is generating more power than the house can use, the excess is sent out over the grid to supply others. If the house needs more power than the PV system can supply, then the extra is drawn from the grid as usual. Grid tied systems only work when the grid is up. If the grid power goes out, the grid tie inverter is required to shut down immediately.
Grid-tied with Battery Back-Up Systems
A grid tied with batteries system is kind of a mix of the two systems. It basically operates like a grid tied system when the grid is up, but it also charges a set of batteries. If the grid goes down, the inverter disconnects from the grid (to protect line workers), but it continues to supply power to the house from the batteries and inverter -- essentially behaving like an off-grid system when the grid is down.
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