Off-Grid Solar: A Guide to Using the Power of the Sun

Off-grid solar energy is gaining in popularity in the United States, especially in light of
today’s political climate and economy.

Self-sufficiency and economic independence are more important than ever in our
country, and using the power of the sun allows you to have both. No longer do
customers have to rely on the conventional utility grid for their power needs, especially
in times of emergency.

If you have considered going off the grid, having the right information can help you
decide on the solar energy system that’s right for you and your family.

Consider Passive Design for Off-Grid Solar Heating and Cooling

In an ideal world, your off-grid home will be designed with the sun in mind. If you plan to
build a new home or renovate an existing one, adding passive solar design elements
can provide added benefits.

South-facing windows let more sun in and help heat your home in the winter. Roof
overhangs shield the home from heat in summer, and thermal masonry building
materials increase energy efficiency. But even if you plan to work with the home you
have now, you can take advantage of passive design strategies to maximize your
off-grid energy use.

Having the right windows can make a sizeable difference. Consider replacing yours or
adding treatments like reflective films, insulated panels or mesh solar screens. You also
can install window awnings to allow for solar heating in winter and shade in summer.

Consider landscaping elements, too. When properly placed, fences, trees and bushes
can help maximize the effectiveness of off-grid solar power.

It’s important to note that passive solar strategies are not necessary. In fact, you can
install an off-grid solar panel system to meet the needs of virtually any household or
business.

Install Off-Grid Solar Panels for Home Electricity

With an off-grid photovoltaic panel system, you don’t have the traditional utility grid as a
backup source of power.

Consequently, you’ll want to make sure that your system is sized to meet your
household energy needs. You also will need to add a bank of batteries to store
electricity for when the sun isn’t shining.

Without this storage capability, you won’t have power at night or in bad weather.

Use the Sun’s Thermal Energy for Off-Grid Solar Water Heating

Solar energy isn’t just for powering your lights, appliances and electronics. In fact, it can
provide your home with hot water for bathing, washing clothes, cleaning and cooking.

Most off-grid solar thermal systems use photovoltaic panels or evacuated tubes to
collect heat from the sun and transfer it to running water in your home. In cold climates,
like the Intermountain West, solar water heaters need to be protected from freezing
temperatures.

You can choose between an active, forced-circulation system that uses an electric pump
or an indirect, closed-loop system that uses a non-freezing liquid to transfer the sun’s
heat.

Today, living off-grid can provide all the comforts of modern life. By using passive design
along with photovoltaic systems to provide electricity and hot water, you can enjoy both
comfort and true energy independence. When added to the significant level of cost
savings you will realize, off-grid solar makes sense for many customers.

Intermountain Wind & Solar is the region’s leading provider of residential and
commercial solar energy systems. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of
photovoltaic energy, and to discuss how you can realize all the benefits that come with
off-grid solar.