Though grid-tied solar panel systems are more popular among Intermountain West homeowners, many are choosing to go off-grid instead. And we’re not surprised -- cutting ties with the utility company is certainly appealing, and who doesn’t like the idea of freedom from monthly electricity bills?
However, installing a stand-alone solar array isn’t the right choice for everyone. Before you decide to take that route, consider the following.
If you don’t plan on hooking your solar panels up to the utility grid, the photovoltaic system must be capable of completely meeting your household electricity needs. In addition, it will need to be able to handle the inevitable fluctuations in energy production and usage.
With today’s advanced technology, a stand-alone solar energy system can generate all of the power you need. But if budget is a concern, you may want to increase your household efficiency and reduce your energy consumption before embarking on installation.
Regardless of whether you decide to embrace energy efficiency, your photovoltaic system will require certain components. Just as with a grid-tied solar array, yours will have solar panels, either a string inverter or micro-inverters and mounting hardware.
Your solar energy system will also need to include a bank of batteries to store electricity – otherwise, you will only have power when the sun is shining. Plus, to regulate the flow of energy between the batteries and the solar panels and to prevent overcharging of the batteries, the photovoltaic system must have a charge controller.
With the additional components required, installing a stand-alone photovoltaic system can cost significantly more than going with a grid-tied solar array. However, if your property isn’t already connected to the utility grid, the opposite could be true – extending the lines might actually come at a higher price than going off the grid.
The off-grid lifestyle has its own unique challenges. When you first start out, you might experience spotty internet service, for example, or you could end up with water shortages.
To discover whether you’re ready go off the grid – and to get an opportunity to experience the lifestyle and brainstorm potential solutions to the problems you may face – consider renting a home with a stand-alone photovoltaic system. You can find one through a simple internet search, or browse one of the rental search sites dedicated to self-sufficient properties.
If you’re interested in installing an off-grid solar panel system in the Intermountain West, call on the professional team at Intermountain Wind & Solar. We can answer your questions, offer expert advice and help you weigh the pros and cons of stand-alone photovoltaic systems.
Intermountain Wind & Solar offers free, no-obligation consultations to homeowners in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Oregon. To meet with our team and learn what you need to know to decide if an off-grid solar panel system is right for you, contact us today.
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