Things to Know Before Installing Off-Grid Solar Systems
Going “off the grid” with your power system and not being tied to a local power utility company has a lot of benefits. Whether your decision to go off-grid is out of necessity (building a home in a place where it’s difficult or prohibitively expensive to get power lines) or out of desire (wanting to be more energy independent), here are some important things to know about off-grid solar system installation.
Understanding Your Power Requirements and Habits
Before going completely off the grid, you need to make sure your solar panel system is built to meet your needs. Building an inadequate system will leave you in the dark—literally—if you don’t have enough power stored and available when you need it. Prior to installing an off-grid solar system, evaluate your power usage—everything from how much you use (on average, which you can get from your current power bills) to when you are using it (the time of day, the time of year, etc.). If you don’t have historical data on energy usage, there are formulas online to help you calculate it.
Going off-grid may require some changes to your habits in order to build a system that can satisfy your needs and won’t be cost-prohibitive, such as switching to energy-efficient LED lighting or purchasing new energy-efficient appliances. The key is to have a system that will generate and store enough power when energy usage peaks and daylight hours are limited during the winter.
Assessing Your Space Needs
Since off-grid systems are designed to generate all of your power (with nothing coming from the local power company), they will often require more solar panels and may require some additional components that grid-tied systems do not need, thus taking up more space. The most common is a battery backup, where the excess energy you collect during sunlight hours is stored until you need to use it. Some homeowners also opt for a generator to compensate for seasonal changes or unpredictable weather that can reduce sunlight hours. When you meet with a solar installation consultant to discuss your off-grid system needs, make sure to discuss how much space things like the battery backup and other components like an optional generator will require so you can plan accordingly.
Work with an Expert
Going off-grid with your power can be very liberating, but it’s important to build the system correctly. Working with the experienced solar professionals at Intermountain Wind and Solar can get you the system you need to live completely off the grid.
(based on video from YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtxjU7ptVtk)