Monday, January 23, 2023

How To Get Off The Grid With Solar Power

How To Set Up Off

EASIEST Off Grid Solar Power System Battery Bank

Q: Mark,

I really enjoyed your article on home solar.

I have a cabin that is off the grid completely, and I would love to get your suggestions on equipment to buy that includes storing the power with batteries.

I use very little power, usually about 300 watts for about 24 hours while Im there once a week. Can you suggest any articles or resources to point me in the right direction for a DIY project?

Keith

A: Hey, Keith,

I love off-grid solar. Its fun to set up, and amazing to have working. Im happy to share some of my own off-grid experiences to point you in the right direction and help out any other readers who want to learn more. To be clear, going off grid isnt worthwhile for most people who are grid-adjacent. For remote cabins like yours, though, doing so can be much easier than getting electrical service installed up in the mountains.

Going off grid isnt worthwhile for most people who are grid-adjacent.

The total price climbs closer to $5,000 for a more robust system.

Look at a power bill, divide the kWh by 30, and get an idea of how much power youd need each day.

If youre budget-conscious, dont even think about going to lithium-ion batteries just yet.

With planning, creativity, and input from your vendor, you can find ways to start small and scale up without wasting money on equipment youll outgrow.

Should I Go Off Grid With Solar

The trickier proposition is capturing excess electricity generation in the summer, when solar power generation is highest, to use in the winter, when it is at its lowest. According to EnergySage Marketplace data, the average solar shopper offsets 92.5 percent of their electricity use with their solar system a significant amount, but not enough to go off the grid. Preventing total power loss in the event of a winter snowstorm or extended overcast days would require a lot of storage capacity, a very large solar panel system, and a significant financial investment to install.

While it is technically feasible to go off the grid with solar batteries, its rarely cost-effective. In some places, particularly in remote areas, off-grid solar battery systems are the best option. More often, solar shoppers maintain their connection with their utility company, even when they choose solar-plus-storage solutions.

Ask Your Municipal Government

Believe it or not, but disconnecting from the electrical grid may be against your municipal bylaws. So, before you get excited about the idea, call your city hall and ask them about it!

Your city may deny you an occupancy permit if your home is not connected to the electrical grid. If your city doesnt allow for it, then consider relocating in order to pursue your dream. Off the grid living may be less of an issue in rural areas.

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Basing Solar Setup Size On Load Evaluation

The second option is to perform a complete load evaluation to determine how much power youll need.

1. Calculate total electricity usage needs

Begin by listing out all the appliances you plan to use, and how many hours youll be using each of them. This allows you to calculate the power consumption of each appliance, as well as your total power consumption over a day.

Knowing how many kWh in a day youll use will allow you to size your solar panel array, as well the solar battery storage.

2. Calculate instantaneous load requirements

Youll also have to calculate how many appliances you might run simultaneously. This will help you calculate instantaneous wattage requirements, which you need to know in order to size the inverter properly .

3. Decide on battery storage capacity

Next, youll need to decide how much energy storage you want. Do you want to cover usage for just one day, or do you want to have extra backup capacity?

When it comes to solar battery backup, the rule generally is you’d want enough storage to cover at least 2-3 days of usage during the highest usage time of year.

4. Design a system around your number from Steps 1-3

Figuring out the sizes of these three crucial components the solar panels, inverter, and battery storage is usually enough information for solar equipment vendors to customize a complete off-grid kit for you.

What Equipment Does An Off

Your Complete Guide to Off

Heres a list of all the equipment required for a functioning off-grid solar system:

  • Solar panels
  • Wiring

Electricity from the solar array flows to the charge controller – from there it is either sent to the battery for storage, or to the DC-AC converter to supply power to the home.

For more information about each of these components, check out this blog on solar panel equipment.

Watch this video to hear first hand experience from solar expert Will White about what it’s like to live off-grid.

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Kinds Of Realistic Off Grid Power Sources

Realistic Off Grid Power Sources With the rising prices in electricity, and the growing concerns of the environmental impact of power plants to the planet, more and more people are saying that they want to go off the grid and produce their own power.

This kind of option is a dream for most people but sadly often times, thats what it is- a dream. They want to do it, but they dont know where to start, or even what their options are.

Also, people think that going off the grid means having to leave the convenience of living in a town or city, which most people dont want to do.

The good news is that with new research and technology, there are a lot of renewable energy options that are available that can fit any type of property that you currently live in.

Do I Want To Go Fully Off Grid With Solar Or Remain Partly Connected To Mains Power

If you desire to live completely off grid, youll need a larger system than if you want to remain connected to the grid. Most people will choose to remain connected as theyll always have a backup in case extended bad weather conditions interrupt the storage of solar power. In this situation, whenever solar power is not enough to power your appliances, the grid will help out and supply the rest of the energy needed. For example, your solar panels have generated 1kW, but you are using appliances that need 2kW. The other 1kW will then be delivered by the grid. Alternatively, if your solar panels are generating more energy than you require, you can feed it back to the grid and receive a payment for selling your power to the electricity company.

If you want to completely disconnect from mains power, youll need a system large enough to generate your power needs and to charge your solar batteries. It may also be necessary to have a large battery bank to store the solar power for later use , or a backup generator.

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How Can I Calculate How Many Solar Panels I Will Need

There is a somewhat basic formula to help you understand how much solar panels you”ll need to go off-grid and it looks like this.

Let me break this formula down even further so you can understand how to use it better.

Step 1 – Figure out how much electricity you use.

Go ahead and grab your most recent power bill and figure out how much energy you used for the last month.

Most energy bills will display the kWh used at the bottom of the document with the cost of electricity multiplied by that.

In the example below you can see that we used 1000 kWh for that month and were charged $134,35.

Step 2 – Work out how much sunlight your county receives

In order to know how many solar panels you’ll need to go off-grid, you have to figure out how many peak hours of sunlight your area receives.

Keep in mind though, that peak hours of sunlight do not equal the time between sunrise and sunset.

Peak hours of sunlight equal the amount of time the sun reaches an average of 1000 Watts per square meter.

So in summary, peak hours of sunlight equal the amount of time the sun is at its most powerful allowing the solar panels to be at their most productive.

If you live somewhere like California, an area with a very high peak sunlight rate, your solar system will not need to be as big.

However, if you stay in a less sunny place you may need more solar panels in order to produce the same amount of electricity you would with less panels in a sunnier location.

State

State

6,1kW

What Are The Different Uses Of Off

How to Solar Power Your Home / House #1 – On Grid vs Off Grid

One of the biggest advantages of solar as an energy source is its scalability and modularity, which is the degree to which a systems components may be separated and recombined for flexibility and variety in use.

It works at all levels, from small devices such as solar phone chargers, all the way up to a system that can power a factory.

Here are some of the most common applications of off-grid solar:

  • Providing a charge to a portable phone or tablet charger
  • Powering the appliances in an RV
  • Generating electricity for small cabins
  • Powering small energy-efficient homes

Its worth noting where off-grid solar systems do NOT make sense: where there is easy access to the utility power. This covers situations where one is looking to power a home in a home in a city, suburb or town.

If thats you, you can save much more by opting for a grid-tied or hybrid solar panel system or even just sticking solely to grid power depending on the economics of solar in your area.

Check if solar is worth if it where you live

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A Handful Of Essential Safety Components

When using renewable energy systems, there are several important components that are necessary for safety purposes.

Batteries and a charge controller arenecessary for storing electricity. The battery itself stores the electricity, whilethe charge controller regulates the flow so that the battery isnt overcharged.This is essential to extending the life of the battery.

This is important at times when your power system of choice isnt able to generate electricity, such as on cloudy days or days without enough wind. Simple systems will involve connecting the energy-generating source directly to an appliance, such as a heater, but adding a battery and a charge controller will allow you to store some of that energy and use it more efficiently.

When we produce electricity by using renewable energy systems, the current thats produced is referred to as direct current power. However, most electricity-powered devices require alternating current power, so we need to convert the power from DC to AC by using a power controller such as an inverter.

The power controller components of a system also help regulate the voltage and power cycles, so that you dont fry your deviceshave you ever fallen victim to a power surge killing your laptop? Or have you tried to use an American-made hair dryer or flat iron in Europe? If so, then you likely know what can happen when you dont have the proper adapters and protection!

Take Your Home Off Grid The Smart Way

Over the last few years there has been a strong shift in thinking, more and more households are becoming aware of their impact on the environment and are taking steps to reduce their footprint. Going green or going off grid are now trendy terms and can significantly increase you homes value and save you on your electrical bill.

In this instructable, when we talk about going off grid, we are talking about becoming completely electrically independent, you do not need to rely on any electrical utility provider to power your home. If you are looking at taking your water supply off grid as well, watch this space, we will hopefully cover this next month.

As with a number of things, there is a smart way to go off grid and and easy way to go off grid. We will briefly discuss the easy way however our focus will be on the smart way as this yields better savings in the long run and is the more environmentally friendly option.

If you find this Instructable helpful, please vote for it.

Cover Image: Solar Panels by Chris Kantos used under CC BY 2.0

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Diy Off Grid Solar System

Day by day the price of the solar panel falls gradually. But still, installation of a complete off-grid solar system is costly. So I write this instructable to get all the components of your solar system separately and assemble it all by yourself.

Checkout my updated V2.0 Instructables on Off-Grid Solar System

Follow me on Instagram @ opengreenenergy

You can find all of my projects on

If you are decided to install a solar panel system to cover your home power needs. This tutorial is for you.

I have tried my best to guide you step by step from buying different components to wiring everything by yourself.

Only you have to know some basic electrical and math for designing the entire system. Instead of this, I have attached links of my other Instructables to make the charge controller and energy meter.

For an off-grid solar system, you need four basic components

4.Battery

Besides the above components you need a few more things like Copper Wire, MC4 Connector, breaker, meter, and fuses, etc.

In the next few steps, I will explain in details how you can choose the above components according to your requirement.

Note: In the picture I have shown a big solar panel of 255W @ 24V, two batteries of 12V @ 100Ah each, 30A @ 12/24V PWM solar charge controller and a 1600 VA pure sine wave inverter. But during the calculation, I have taken a smaller solar system example for better understanding.

Rural Off Grid Living

How to buy the right Off Grid Solar System

If youre building an off the grid house from scratch, youll need to consider a couple of things before purchasing land.

  • Being near woodland is a great option if you intend on having a wood burning stove as a way of heating home off the grid, because you can use wood as a free fuel source.

  • Fertile land that you can grow food on is also a key feature in how to move off grid completely. You might even wish to keep livestock such as a cow or chickens

  • Water supply. Being near to fresh running water, whether from a stream, a well or a river will help you to achieve your off grid goals. Having an off grid shower using a natural water supply direct to your home is an inspiring wash!

If youre able to obtain an off grid water supply there are few key points to consider:

Remember, if youre building a permanent home for your off grid lifestyle, you still need to apply for planning permission from your local council. Do not begin any self-build project without doing so first, as this could end up costing thousands.

In fact, for any brand new build, property extension or change of use for a building, you need planning permission. For more information on planning permission for off grid homes plans,

That said, if you intend to start living either in a static caravan or yurt, then planning permission isnt necessary. And as a side note if youre wondering if you live off the grid do you pay taxes the short answer is yes you do.

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Decide How To Heat Your Home

Heat pumps are the most efficient way to heat an off-grid home. These electric-powered pumps extract heat from one place and transfer it to another, keeping you cosy throughout the winter.

There are two types of heat pumps available for homeowners: air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. Both work in exactly the same way, but source their heat from either the air or the ground.

If you dont have enough space for heat pumps, biomass boilers can also be used to heat off-grid homes.

But which energy source will save you the most money? Find out below:

Overview Of Building An Off Grid Solar System

Designing your own self-sufficient solar power system must start with your end users needs in mind. Making the effort to follow a proper design process saves you money, time, and makes the process of going off the grid a pleasant one.

Here is an overiew of the steps Ill take you through over the course of this three part guide.

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Off The Grid Solar Power: How Much Do You Need

Disclosure: I sometimes earn products or commissions from affiliate links or partnerships on my blog. I only recommend products and services I trust to serve you. Learn more.

How much solar power do you need to go off grid? Making the leap to off-grid living can be daunting, and calculating your energy needs can be confusing. Take a look at what you need to consider before making the move to off grid solar.

If youre considering going off the grid with solar power, there are a lot of important questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a system.

But if youre looking for a cut-and-dry you need X watts of power for your off grid home type of answer, then you need to keep reading. Every home is different and your needs will definitely vary.

In our old home on the grid, we used upwards of 900 kWh per month. In our new off-grid home? Weve reduced our power needs enough to get by with the following:

6 solar panels producing roughly 1100 watts, 4 batteries equaling 500 amp hours at 24 volts, and a 4000 watt MagnaSine inverter

How? Keep reading to find out how we figured out our needs and designed a system to match.

First, if youre unsure of how off-grid solar works check out this comprehensive beginners guide to going solar here.

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