Off-Grid Solar Power Components: What Do You Need?

Interest in off-grid solar power is growing, fueled in part by the contentious political and social climate permeating the United States today.

For those potential clients considering installation of an off-grid photovoltaic system, the prospect of energy independence is eclipsed only by the potential of drastically lower utility costs. But cutting ties with the utility company requires specialized equipment not typically included in grid-tied systems.

Although your specifications may differ depending upon the size and scale of your photovoltaic system, the essential components required for an off-grid installation are fairly standard.

Off-Grid Solar Panels

Photovoltaic solar panels are the foundation of any system installation. These modules harness the sun’s energy.

How many solar panels do you need to power your off-grid home?

An understanding of your household energy consumption is the basis for making this determination. The more electricity you use, the larger your photovoltaic array must be to provide sufficient power.

When planning your off-grid photovoltaic system, you also must consider a variety of other factors, including available sunlight in your area and your usable roof or ground space. A professional solar installer can evaluate your property and energy needs to help determine how many photovoltaic panels you’ll need to produce adequate electricity for your home.

Off-Grid Solar Battery Systems

When the sun goes down, your photovoltaic panels won’t have any light energy to capture. If you don’t want to be left in the dark, you’ll need a battery storage system to attach to your solar array.

During the day, when the sun is shining, your batteries become charged as they absorb excess electricity created by your photovoltaic array. These charged batteries store the electricity, keeping it available for use at night.

A battery system also is good for storing energy to use on cloudy days when your solar panels aren’t as productive. It’s a good idea to make sure your battery is big enough to provide at least a day or two’s worth of energy storage, just in case.

Your battery system also will require a charge controller. This component regulates the voltage and current your batteries receive, helping to prevent overcharging and the potential damage that could cause.

Off-Grid Solar Inverters

The energy that PV solar panels produce and store in your batteries is direct current (DC). However, you will need alternating current (AC) to power your off-grid home, so you’ll need an off-grid solar inverter. Standard string inverter or micro-inverters won’t work for off-grid systems.

Unlike standard models, off-grid inverters also are capable of converting AC power to DC power. This is good for effectively managing solar panel energy output and battery storage.

Many homeowners who prefer off-grid solar power also invest in alternate energy sources, like generators, to provide a backup source of power. Some install tracking devices to allow their photovoltaic arrays to follow the sun as it moves through the sky during the day.

Intermountain Wind & Solar, serving customers throughout the Intermountain West region, offers a wide range of components to meet your needs. Contact us today for more information on installing an off-grid solar energy system at your home.