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Go Off-The-Grid With Solar Power

Jessica PirroNovember 14, 20193490

When it comes to solar-powered systems there are two major options concerning the grid that you will have to choose from, grid-tied solar panel installations and off-grid solar-powered systems. When it comes to off-grid solar-powered systems, the name is specific in regards to your utilities and how you get your power. But if you aren’t exactly sure what it means to go off-the-grid, here are a few things you should know in regards to off-grid solar-powered systems.

What is "the Gird?"

When using the term “off-the-grid” it is in reference to living autonomously without relying on a utility for any power. Referring to living off-the-grid, the most ideal place to go off-the-grid is in rural locations where there’s a lack of reliable grid access. Off-the-grid homes are always going to require an alternative power option, like solar energy.

In order to understand what the grid is, the first thing that we will have to discuss is what utilities are and what exactly they do. Utilities provide a commodity or a service that is vital to the general public. The utilities are in charge of bringing homeowners power, water or natural gas. More traditionally, utilities are expected to achieve three goals: production or generation, transmission, and distribution. The grid achieves the transmission and distribution goals, and its infrastructure allows power to come from the point of generation into your house. When a blackout occurs, it is typically the grid that has been interrupted. When people start to consider getting a solar panel installation, they are normally interested in achieving as much independence from the grid as possible in order to lower their energy costs and exert control over their usage. When you install an off-grid solar-powered system, when the grid experiences a blackout, your solar panel installation is most likely going to continue to produce solar energy.

What Does it Take to Get an Off-Grid Solar-Powered System

Getting an off-grid solar-powered system and constantly having electricity can be an expensive proposition. For you to get off of the electricity grid, you are going to need to find a solar-powered system that comes with a kit specifically designed to go off the grid. Your solar panels installation is also going to need a component that will store the excess solar energy that you don’t use when the production is high, such as the times when the sun is out, this way you can use it when your solar panel installation isn’t producing solar power, such as at night, you can still have access to electricity. To have a place to store your solar power, you are going to need to add some batteries to your off-grid solar-powered system. For most homes in America, you are going to need several batteries to store excess solar power. 

How an Off-Grid Solar Power Inverter is Different than a Grid-Tied Solar Power Inverter?

A grid-tied solar power inverter takes the DC solar power from the solar panels, and will then convert it into AC solar power, then the excess solar power is sent back to the grid for credit.

Grid-tied solar power inverters are going to be a lot more simple and easier to wire since there are typically only two main components - the solar power inverter itself and the solar panels. But, some of the grid-tied solar-powered systems are beginning to incorporate energy storage, though most aren’t going to give any batteries at all.

When it comes to an off-grid solar-powered system, the solar power inverter is going to need a battery bank to function.

Here’s how an off-grid solar power inverter works. Your solar panels feed the DC solar power into the batteries. Then your solar power inverter takes that power and converts it, creating the AC solar power for your home. This will essentially work as a miniature solar energy grid.

A common question that some homeowners have is, “will the solar power deplete your solar power batteries?” The answer is no, provided that your solar-powered system is set up and designed correctly. The battery bank will get recharged by your solar panels and a charge controller, as well as a backup generator in the winter months.

As you can imagine, an off-grid solar-powered system is going to be a lot more complicated because there are quite a few additional components, like the charge controller, the battery monitor, and additional AC and DC circuit breakers.

You might also find that it is challenging to purchase the off-grid solar-powered system equipment because there’s a lot of associated accessories: remote controls, battery monitor, breakers and enclosures, surge suppressors, and more.

Advantages and Perks

- No access to the utility network: off-grid solar-powered systems are cheaper than extending power lines in particular, easy-grid if you’re over 100 yards from the grid. The overhead transmission line prices range from $174,000 per mile to $11,000,000 per mile.

- Become energy self-sufficient: living off the grid and being self-sufficient feels good. For some, it’s a form of security. Power failures on the utility grid do not affect the off-grid solar-powered system.

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