Living Off-Grid: Stand-Alone Solar Energy Systems
If you want to work or live off-grid, a stand-alone solar energy system enables you to power your home or business without the assistance of the utility company.
Using photovoltaic power to live off-grid is becoming increasingly popular, as it provides both energy independence and significant long-term financial benefits.
Design Considerations for Off-Grid Solar Energy Systems
If you don’t plan to hook up to the municipal power grid, your stand-alone photovoltaic system must be designed to completely meet the energy requirements of your home or business.
The size of the photovoltaic system you’ll need depends on your energy usage.
If you are limited in the size of system you can accommodate, you could try to increase your energy efficiency. However, most of today’s PV energy and backup systems allow you to generate all the power you’ll need.
Off-grid photovoltaic systems also must be designed to handle fluctuations in energy collection and use. Simply compare your average daily and seasonal energy usage with the availability of the sun in your location to determine the size of your system.
Additional Equipment Needed for Stand-Alone Solar Energy Systems
All photovoltaic systems require specific equipment, including an array of PV solar panels, an inverter and mounting hardware. For an off-grid system, however, you’ll also need components to store electricity for future use.
A backup system is required because photovoltaic panels will produce power only when the sun is shining, but you’ll need electricity on cloudy days and at night too.
Stand-alone systems typically use a bank of batteries that can store at least a few days’ worth of electricity. The size of your bank will be based upon your energy needs. Finally, to regulate the flow of electricity between the panels and the batteries, and to protect your batteries from being overcharged, you’ll also need a charge controller.
Pros and Cons of Off-Grid Solar Energy Systems
For many people, one of the most attractive aspects of living off-grid is being free from the utility company and their terms and rate increases.
And, of course, the sun’s energy is free, which means no electric bills.
Choosing a stand-alone photovoltaic system also can be more economically feasible than extending a line to the electric grid, particularly in remote locations.
Off-grid photovoltaic systems do have a few ongoing maintenance responsibilities, however. You’ll need to keep the solar panels clean and monitor the performance of the system yourself. And, after several years, you may need to replace some of the batteries.
Overall, though, the upkeep of your system will involve minimal effort and expenditures.
Are you considering a stand-alone photovoltaic system? To learn more about this kind of true energy independence, contact Intermountain Wind & Solar, serving customers throughout the Intermountain West.
We look forward to helping you achieve your goals for the energy independence of off-grid living.