Nowadays people are more attracted to efficient, green, and renewable energy resources. They want to switch to such energy sources but lack the basic understanding of how to get started.
So, if you want to start with an off-grid solar system then you are in the right place. Just read through this article you will understand what an off-grid solar system is, what are alternatives to it, and the pros and cons of off-grid solar system benefits.
An off-grid solar system is one of the best options for people who want to remove dependency on the power supply, reduce utility bills, increase freedom, live remotely, and reduce dependency on natural weather conditions (including tornadoes).
Read on to find out more about an off-grid solar system, how it works, and the pros and cons of off Grid solar system.
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What Is An Off-Grid Solar System?
Solar energy works by using solar panels to generate electricity to charge batteries, without direct connection to the utility grid, which provides you with an independent power supply.
The power generated is then converted to electricity using an inverter to be used in homes, offices, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, or any other place people want.
Moreover, an off-grid solar system is an alternative innovation that provides you with independent energy harnessed by the sun. Generally, an off-grid solar system includes the following components:
- Solar panels
- Battery bank(s)
- Charge controllers
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How Does An Off-Grid Solar System Work?
Here’s a step by step on how an off-grid solar system works:
- Solar Panels (also known as PV array). Generally, off gridders set solar panels either on their rooftop or in an open yard or any space available on their property. The Sunlight is captured by the solar panels and transferred to the charge controllers.
- Charge Controllers. Think of the charge controller as a “middle man” between your solar panels, inverters, and battery bank. In addition, charge controllers act as regulators to ensure that the amount of power captured through the solar panels does not heavily overload the battery. The charge controllers keep the battery fully charged and top it off whenever required. The charge controllers either transfer the energy directly as DC (direct current) power to your lights or the inverters to be converted into AC (alternating current) power for your household appliances.
- Battery Bank. With the charge controllers providing energy to the batteries, the battery bank serves as the heart of the off-grid solar system—the battery bank serves as storage of excess energy for future days and nights.
- Inverters. The inverters convert the DC (direct current) power into AC (alternating current) power; the standard electricity that comes out of your power outlets allows you to switch on the radio, computer, TV, or even your oven and kitchen appliances.
- Backup generator: In off-grid systems, backup generators serve as a backup charging source to recharge your battery bank when solar doesn’t meet the demand, particularly during times of the year when the weather is very cloudy. You can also use backup generators as backup power if your equipment fails and you need to bypass the inverter system.
- Energy generation: The first and most important step is to generate electricity. Panels are powered up by the radiations of the sun. This process charges the silicon to generate energy. That is then transferred to the inverter.
- Conversion of Energy to Current: The next step is to convert Direct Current (DC) to Alternate current (AC). This step is performed by inverting. After conversion to alternate current now it is provided to houses, offices, or a place where it is required.
- Storage of Current: Energy is best produced while the solar is shining. In case there is rain, cloudy weather, storm, lightning, or a thunderstorm, the process of generation of electricity is stopped. To continue the usage of electricity in similar scenarios, a storage mechanism is a must. That’s why solar batteries are used to store excessive electricity.
Example of Grid Solar System:
This example will help us understand pricing and the number of appliances a solar system can be used for a 3KW system.
What Are The Advantages Of An Off-Grid System?
There are many benefits of using an off-grid solar system that one can achieve which are mentioned as follows:
- Less Cost and More Savings: Despite the higher initial costs of going off the grid, having a larger renewable energy supply will save you money on monthly utility bills. Even though the amount of cash you save will differ depending on where you live and the type of solar energy system you set up, generally, you can expect to save around $20 000 in 20 years in most states.
- Environment Friendly: Another benefit of an off-grid solar system is that it is the most energy-conscious and environment-friendly choice.
- No Dependence on Electricity Companies or Government: With an off-the-grid solar system you are in control of your electricity and don’t rely on electricity companies or the government.
- Continuous Supply of Electricity: Another advantage of going off-grid is that you will not be affected in case of blackouts, even if the rest of your area does. Sometimes, power outages can be real nuisances, and it is a good idea to reduce your dependence. Having 100% energy from the sun means that you will always have power as long as the sun is out.
- Available to Remote Locations: Off-grid solar helps bring power to remote locations where utility power is sometimes unavailable or too expensive to access. You can live more self-sufficiently and have energy in cabins far from populated areas with an off-grid solar.
- No financial Worry as Changes in The Rate on Electricity Does not Affect Your Budget: Going off-grid gives you freedom and independence from the utility company. Rising energy prices will not affect you.
- No (or Less Dependency) Dependency On Weather Conditions: Being independent of the grid can also be particularly advantageous in areas prone to severe weather conditions like hurricanes and tornadoes.
- Less Wastage of Resources: Unlike fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, an off-the-grid solar system doesn’t release harmful pollutants or even greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, into the air and water supply.
- No Use of Fossil Fuels Required: Since solar systems work by soaking radiant light from the sun and converting it to electrical energy, it doesn’t use fossil fuels to generate electricity. Instead, an off-the-grid solar power system uses natural energy from the sun.
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What Is The Drawback Of An Off-Grid Solar System?
The following emphasizes the disadvantages of the off-grid solar system:
- Very High Setup Cost: Even though an off-grid solar system helps eliminate your monthly electricity bills, the initial investment is generally higher for off-grid solar compared to grid-tied solar. An off-grid solar requires a battery bank for storing the generated energy, and these batteries can cost up to 30-40% of the initial cost of an off-grid system.
- Extra Equipment Required: The main components required in an off the solar grid system include:
- Solar panels
- Charger controller
- And the battery bank
- Expenditure to Preserve The System: Batteries generally require maintenance and might need to be replaced. Typical off-the-grid solar system batteries last between 5 to 15 years.
- Small/Limited Storage of Energy: Off-grid solar has small and sometimes limited energy storage, and it is entirely dependent on the battery bank you buy. Before going off the grid, determine how much energy storage you need and keep in mind that you might need to adjust your lifestyle to lower your energy consumption.
- Expensive Equipment: On average, it costs between $5,000 to $40,000 to install solar panels in the United States, according to Consumers Affairs.
- Average Prices of An Off The Grid Solar Panels:
|Average Cost of Solar Panel||$16,000|
|Lowest Cost of Solar Panel||$3,500|
|Highest Cost of Solar Panel||$35,000|
To overcome the disadvantages of the off-grid solar system we need to understand the grid-tied solar system and hybrid system. This can help us to better decide and minimize disadvantages by using a better approach.
Grid-Tied Solar System
A grid-tied solar system is a solar system connected to the electrical power grid. Additionally, a grid-tied solar system relies on the grid to produce usable solar energy and channel surplus energy for net metering, clean energy credits, or later usage.
A grid-tied solar system combines both the solar system and the grid system, helping to decrease dependency on solar energy and continue the supply of electricity even when there is a storm, hail, or any other bad weather situation.
Some extra concepts that are important to understand for grid-tied solar systems are the following:
Extra electricity produced by the system is transferred to the grid. This can help reduce the bill and expenditures. Sometimes this even leads to zero charges for the electricity bill.
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Benefits of Grid Tied Solar System
- Reliability increases. If there may be a typhoon or horrific climate even then, there may be non-stop delivery from the grid
- Reduce cost as extra electricity produced is added to the grid
- Beneficial investment
- Less expenditure on maintenance
- Increase in property value and demand
- Better government incentives
Cons of Grid Tied Solar System
- Extra charges if the property is rented
- Takes up extra space
- Adding extra storage is expensive
Hybrid Solar system
This system combines both grids tied and off the grid to increase and avail several benefits of the solar system.
Benefits of Hybrid Solar System
- Ample storage of energy.
- Better self-reliability.
- Reduce dependency on grid electricity.
- Better utilization of renewable energy sources.
- No dependence on electricity companies or government.
- Continuous supply of electricity.
- Available to remote locations.
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Cons of Grid Hybrid Solar System
- In case of the problem, there is a high cost of repairing.
- Setup cost is high.
- Extra space required to set up.
- Payback time takes years.
- There are always some minimum utility charges to be paid.
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Overall, there are several pros and cons of an off-grid solar system, but as you can see the pros heavily overweight the cons. Moreover, this article discusses other types of solar systems, including their benefits, disadvantages, and different techniques they use.
There are many factors to consider and decide which one to choose. Factors that affect decisions are cost, space, dependency, maintenance, utility, environmental factors, payback time, reliability, storage, and many others.
Some people prefer security and reliability because grid-tied systems are better. Off-grid systems are preferred in remote areas. However, if you are living an off-grid life, owning a solar system is the best thing that can happen to you.