Off-Grid Solar Systems – What You Need To Know
Off grid solar to most people means disconnecting from the mains power supply completely.
Since Enphase and Tesla have released successful residential battery systems, most of the people we talk to are now enquiring about how storage will work with an existing solar system and how will they be able to get off the grid in the not so distant future.
However, there are some important issues that crop up in purchasing and running an off-grid solar system that these people typically aren’t aware of. So without further ado, here are some factors that you should be aware of before buying an off-grid solar system:
1. Off grid solar batteries cost a lot more
To go off grid (and therefore not have access to the grid power at any time), means you not only need to install enough battery capacity to run your house overnight and into the next morning, but also to run your house in the event that we get days (or even weeks) without consistent sunshine – ie in an extended rainy period.
To do this – and not run the risk of running out of power just before guests arrive for dinner – means you would have to additionally buy and install a very large battery that would very rarely get used, plus you would need to generate enough solar power to last many days.
2. Get efficient with your energy
To go off grid gives you freedom. It’s an idealistic act that says no to coal, yes to renewables, and of course no more power bills!
The basic concept behind the use of a combined solar and battery system is that the batteries are charged by excess solar power during the day, and then the household runs from the stored solar energy at night time. So far, so good.
But what if you have 2 weeks of bad weather. Now you have a serious problem on your hands. How can you store cold food in your fridge when your panels aren’t charging your batteries? What if you can’t charge your phone?
Going off grid means you’ll have to become far more efficient with your energy usage so that your battery-stored energy will last as long as possible when the weather isn’t so friendly.
3. Limited roof space
Economics says that you should install enough solar and battery capacity to cover most of your nighttime energy usage.
However, in order to have the extra backup of energy, you’ll have to have a really large solar panel setup. So large, in fact, that it generally would not be feasable on the average sized house.
4. You don’t have a backup
We regularly get calls from victims of bad installers who want us to fix their solar panel setup. Often the cost of replacing those panels and the system is almost as much as buying an entirely new solar system. We personally don’t take on repairs from other installers, because these issues are often complex and time consuming to fix.
If you’re off grid, and your system breaks, which is common if you install it yourself, you’ll be facing a substantial cost of repair. You’ll also be disconnected from the grid, so unable to use electricity until you save up the money to repair the system and wait for the repair team to fix it.
5. You can still stay connected to the grid
If you are doing it for environmental reasons why not stay on the grid, fill your roof with solar panels and turn your home into a meaningful power generator? This also gives you the backup of being able to use the grid if you need it.
For most households it’s all about generating the biggest impact for the money you are willing to spend, which will mean running your home on solar power during the day, and excess solar power at night.
For more information and a personalised quotation, please contact the Solaray Team today, we would be happy to suggest a few options based on what you would like to achieve