Everything You Need To Know About Off-Grid Solar Systems
The Benefits Of Living In An Off Grid Legal State
Solar energy is saving the world while helping people save on electricity costs. To set up your solar system, you can either be connected to a local electricity grid or go off-grid. However, in some states like California, and most of New York, an off-grid system would not work out for you due to the NEM standards for grid tied electricity and thus home solar systems on the grid. An off-grid solar system is one that requires battery storage for power that is generated, so you can always have electricity even when the sun is not out. If you are living off the grid, the good thing is you never need to worry about an emergency blackout response, as you will have stored power with a battery storage system. However, with a regular grid tied home solar panel system, a battery system is still a viable solution as a resource for emergencies, so you could still get the best of both worlds in a state like CA.
The next question you have might be what states can you invest in an entirely off-grid solar system? Here are some states that allow an off-grid system (otherwise you need to consider a grid tied home solar system):
Off-Grid Solar System Equipment
For an off-grid solar system, you need the following: A Solar Charge Controller, Battery Bank, and Off-Grid Inverter. Additionally, you can include a DC Disconnect and a Backup Generator. All these equipment components make up part of your balance of systems (BOS), alongside the solar panel and its standard items like racking and wires that help ensure a complete solar power system. However, using an off-grid solar system means you will need more solar panels to self-generate enough power for your home. In the US, the average size of an off-grid solar system is 5 kW, and to make up the power generation, you will have to install 20 (250 W) solar panels or 50 (100 W) solar panels.
Next, for the battery bank in your off-grid solar system, you need to get batteries that can match up to your energy consumption as well. To calculate this, you divide your energy consumption rates in watts by the voltage of the battery to get the battery hours you need to power your home. So, if you are going to use 12-v batteries, and your consumption rate for an AC unit is 7200 watts, then you will need 600amp-hours. In an off-grid system, your solar panels and other BOS generate and convert power as they should but the battery banks and inverters help to store the power that is generated. All you need, to know how much power you actually need for your home, is to calculate your energy consumption with smart meter data or a similar power measuring device, or you can contact your local electricity network operator for your data records.
When you know your consumption rate, get a grid solar inverter with a power capacity that is 110-120% of the total capacity of your consumption. For instance, if your total capacity is 5kW then your inverter power capacity should be up to 6000 watts. This information will help you pick the right type of solar grid inverter to store power in an off-grid system.
Is Living Off The Grid Good For Me?
While they can be really expensive, off-grid solar systems have a lot of benefits as you become self-sufficient for your own power and you are not affected by grid downtimes or blackouts, which could occur as a result of weather changes. If you live in a location where the state facilitates your off the grid style home solar system, and you are also living in a remote location where setting up a local grid system would give you the extrinsic benefit of the doubt, than great, living with an off the grid solar system, will be great for you. However, if this is not an option, off-grid solar systems are only going to be a burden for the most part.
Off-grid solar systems are expensive but they save you from loss of power on bad weather days and local grid downtimes. Be sure that it is not prohibited in your area before taking on the cost and installation for an off-grid home solar system. Of course you will get a wide array of benefits financially and from a practical standpoint if it is simply unfeasible for you to become tied to the grid for power, in which case solar really is your number one option. However, due to certain regulations like net metering policies, off-grid solar systems are not allowed everywhere, and you may be fined for having one.