There are many aspects to solar energy, but there are two types that are most familiar:
Grid-tied solar, and off-grid solar. There tends to be confusion between the two.


A grid tie solar electric system uses solar panels, a power inverter and other components to turn sunlight into electricity for your use, while your home remains hooked up to the local utility, which in our province is SaskPower. This type of solar does NOT require batteries.


The most common reason people install a solar grid-tie system is to reduce their utility bills. Once your system is operating, the power it provides is free, and there is little or no maintenance required. While it runs, your PV system reduces your electrical bills, not only because it decreases how much power you pull from your utility, but also because any excess power you produce is pushed back into the grid through net-metering and effectively turning your meter backwards. Eventually your PV system will pay for itself, but your energy savings will continue long after. (Add in about SaskPower rebate until the end of November)


Off-grid systems essentially mean that you are creating your own power, and supplying it instead of relying on a utility company.


These solar electric systems are typically used in remote locations where connecting to the local utility grid is impossible or expensive, in areas where grid power is inconsistent, or due to the appeal of an independent lifestyle. In some off-grid systems a home backup generator may also be included, to supply power when the renewable technologies can’t produce enough to meet demand.


Off-grid living completely relieves you of dependency on the electrical utility, because the system provides all of your power. Due to this, off-grid systems are generally larger than grid-ties. Remote homes and cabins, water pumping systems, livestock watering, telecommunications, RV’s, boats, sign lighting and traffic warning lights are just some of the places off grid solar and renewable energy are utilized.

Payback is usually used to describe the time it takes for an investment to pay for itself, similar to the ROI. The basic assumption behind a payback calculation is that it is a discretionary expenditure. Paying an electric bill is not a ‘discretionary’ expense for most people, nor is it a choice. By investing into a solar electric system, the money that you would be paying to SaskPower as your monthly power bill would instead be invested into your home as an asset. Compare it to the opportunity to rent a home monthly, or instead paying toward a mortgage and eventually owning that home.