4 Types of Commercial Solar Applications

by | Jan 22, 2015 | Blog posts, Did You Know?

Whether it’s producing energy to sell back to the grid, self-consume, or ensure access to backup power, there are a lot of advantages for businesses to choose solar as an alternative form of energy.

To follow up with Tuesday’s blog post, here is a rundown of some of the common ways that solar is being used in commercial applications:

  1. Grid-tie is a common installation configuration for a photovoltaic (PV) or solar system. Grid-tie is also known as on-grid, grid tied, utility interactive, grid inertia, or grid-direct. In this application, electricity is generated by the PV system and routed to loads (component that consumes power – e.g. appliances and lights), offsetting the utility electrical load of a business. In many locations excess energy can be sold back to the utility providing the business with a form of revenue. Large systems are typically installed without energy storage, while small systems can include it.
  1. Backup power systems incorporate energy storage, usually in the form of batteries. Batteries are charged through the utility connection and inverters. When there are utility power fluctuations (brown-outs or outages), the inverter provides continuous power to critical loads. Battery power can also provide energy to assist when powering intermittent heavy loads, thereby reducing operating costs. (Note that a solar array and chargers can also be added to this system to reduce utility electrical load).
  1. Self-Consumption means that the energy generated by a photovoltaic system is consumed by the commercial enterprise. When the price to buy electricity is higher than the price to sell it, the revenue due to self-consumption is higher than the profit of selling electricity to the grid. The objective is to consume 100% of the energy produced by the PV system.
  1. Off-grid systems are completely disconnected from the utility grid. This system typically includes a solar array, solar chargers, batteries, and controls. In this configuration, energy is collected and stored to meet all power requirements. The addition of a generator provides additional autonomy, capacity for heavy loads, and battery charging when solar energy is reduced. In a scenario where a generator is providing prime power in an off-grid location, the addition of a PV system can offset the costs of both fuel and generator maintenance.


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