Ultimately, Everyone Wants To Go Off-The-Grid!
Ultimately, Everyone Wants To Go Off-The-Grid! (What About You?)
by Kristy Hoare from My Solar Quotes
February 28, 2014
Think about it for a moment. If you could, wouldn’t you live off of sunlight completely for the rest of your life? If only you could?
Yes, there are many buts to consider when you’re talking about what we call an ‘off-the-grid solar power system’, and no, this is not something that might be possible ‘in the distant future’ because it is already happening – there are many in New Zealand who have already gone ‘off the grid’!
People who go off-the-grid often have strong reasons for choosing to do so. While this is a luxury for some, it is often a necessity for others. Most people who get an off-grid solar power system installed at their homes are ones who are unable to get electricity through regular channels, i.e. the power utility companies. (In other cases, the power suppliers charge consumers an arm and a leg for supplying to their house, which is why they feel compelled to choose an off-the-grid solar panel system to cut costs in the longer run.)
Off-grid systems are costly because they are much more complex as compared to your regular grid-connected solar electricity system (the one that works in tandem with your power supplier). For one, off-grid systems require additional components, like a charge controller and extra batteries. They also require a fair amount of maintenance, unless you choose to spend more on the system. A lot of people in New Zealand who aren’t able to connect to the grid spend $40,000 to $70,000 on their off-grid solar power system!
So it isn’t everyday that someone who is connected to the grid chooses to install an off-grid solar inverter just to disconnect from their power supplier completely. But we have witnessed people doing just that in New Zealand! Perhaps they choose to go off the grid because they are sick of their power companies, but they always have two things in common – they have the money as well as the time for it.
Typically, these off-grid systems are customized to meet the needs of your home, and this is what makes them a bit more complicated. The solar power system designer starts by finding out when your household’s power demands peak, like when you start using electric heaters in winter along with everything else that you typically use (TV, lights, oven, iron, water heater etc.). They will also try to figure out exactly how much power you consume over a set number of days so that they can determine how much energy needs to be stored by the batteries.
Perhaps in an attempt to reduce the complexities associated with purchasing an off-grid system, some solar power companies now offer predesigned packages. Rather than customizing the system to match your specific energy needs, you can opt for one of these packages and plan your energy usage based on the package you use. Their experts will still assess your usage so that they can recommend the package that will cause you the least amount of discomfort, but as is always the case, you can always go for a larger package so that you can be sure it will meet all your needs. That way you won’t have to always be worried and conscious of your energy usage.
Sometimes, especially when you aren’t sure if this is a viable option, you might decide to go for a smaller system at first just to see how it works for you. Off-grid systems can be scalable so it’s an option. Not always the best option though - it would be wise if you plan ahead so that you can up-scale easily in the future if need be without incurring unnecessary costs. (This means you will try to be wary of the composition of your solar power system and do your level best to get the right components from the start, like you might want to get an inverter that can easily be stacked along with others – as opposed to one that cannot be stacked – just in case you want to upgrade in the future.)
Another aspect unique to off-the-grid solar power systems is consideration for a backup power supply. One needs to be careful of periods when there isn’t enough sunlight for a few days, or times when you host guests at your place. This may be easily sorted if you have easy access to a power supplier, but as mentioned before, that may not always be the case. In such a scenario, a diesel generator as backup is a very practical choice, even though it may not be the most environmentally friendly one. With a diesel generator as backup, you could even risk getting a smaller solar power system – a generator can easily fit in with a solar power system setup - you just have to ensure your inverter can handle multiple energy sources.
Ultimately, it is best to get an off-grid system right from the start. Once you work out all the money you spend getting solar power experts to visit your home several times, swapping components around once, twice; you could imagine how quickly this endeavor could turn into a sum higher than you first anticipated. To manage this effectively, especially if you are committed to staying off-the-grid, you should choose a trusted solar power company to design and install a complete solar system solution for your lovely home (and let them work their magic!). They really do know what is best for you - quality solutions always present themselves with what seems to be a higher investment upfront, but that’s only because they pay off much better in the longer run.
To get 3 free quotes for an off-grid system visit http://www.mysolarquotes.co.nz