Did you know that about 180,000 American families now live using off grid electrical systems? That number is growing rapidly, and you can get rid of your utility grid and go to off-grid systems, too.
Off-grid power systems have the potential to give you electrical freedom because generating electricity is done with off-grid solar instead of through the electrical company.
Overall, off-grid solar power is ideal if you’ve got the skills and money to set up your functional system. If you’re thinking of going off-grid for your cabin or home, it’s crucial to be familiar with the energy produced through other means. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Off-Grid Power?
Off-grid energy means that you’re harnessing electricity that’s independent of the utility companies, such as on the electrical grid. Instead, you’re using renewable energy.
There are three primary options, including an off-grid solar system, wind turbine systems, and micro-hydro systems. All of them convert the energy source into direct current electricity (DC power) unlike the alternating currents offered by electrical grids throughout the world.
DC electricity involves energized electrons, which create power that flows in one direction. Alternating current (AC) uses a constant switching of the direction, which is about 60 times a second in the United States.
Overall, this leads to a high cost and less efficiency because you’re using the grid all the time to get power to each system in your home.
Benefits of Off-grid Power System
Having an off-grid system is highly beneficial to you, and solar exposure can even work for a backup generator.
These are some of the many advantages of off-grid systems:
- Full energy independence – You don’t have to tap into a grid and pay the electric company for the privilege of doing so. This is cost-effective!
- Almost non-existent carbon footprint – If you’re worried about the environment, going off-grid is an attractive option.
- Grid infrastructure collapse – Many people fear the collapse of the power grid, along with the economy. If you use battery monitors and go off-grid for your power, you get energy without worry.
However, before getting one of these power systems, we want you to understand everything about them. A system that is independent of the grid is expensive to set up. You must buy everything and install them before you get any power, including the inverter and any batteries. Still, these systems are high-efficiency options, so you’re more likely to power everything you need without having to plug into the grid.
Types of Off Grid Electrical Systems to Use at Home
Going off-grid can mean different things, and the way you generate power is based on the system you employ. Here are the three main types:
Solar Panels for an Off-Grid Solar System
Solar energy uses solar panels (photovoltaic panels) to convert sunlight into electricity. One issue with this type of system is that you don’t get a lot from the sun on cloudy days. The solar panels can’t soak up the power, so you need a battery bank and inverter to make the power system more efficient.
Overall, these add-ons, such as the battery bank, generators, and batteries can make it higher to set up initially. However, this off-grid system is the most practical, though it’s location-based. You have more control over how much solar power you produce based on the equipment you use.
[Read: How Do Solar Panels Work?]
Wind energy turns the air into electricity with a generator and wind turbines. The wind moves the turbine blades, causing your internal generator to spin more and produce electricity to feed into the power system.
Set-up costs are often lower than with solar power. However, you need a location that has high wind speeds all the time to make it work.
Dirty wind (turbulence) is also an issue. If the wind just swirls around aimlessly instead of blowing in a specific direction, the turbines don’t work correctly. Overall, the wind isn’t constant, but you can’t use batteries as you can with solar.
Micro-hydro energy works like wind energy and uses motion to spin your turbine, which converts the movements to electricity. However, the motion is water and not wind. This system produces more electricity and is a constant energy source if you’ve got water.
However, there are few viable locations because you need enough head and volume to get enough energy. Even generators can’t help.
Seeing as micro-hydro and wind energy are often seen as more cost-efficient than solar power, why do more people switch to solar when they go off-grid? The reason is simple: It’s easy to gain access to, and you can store it in batteries until you need it.
Most homeowners understand and prefer solar more than the other options. They realize that appropriate batteries can save up energy and even let them use it when there’s no sunlight. With that, a solar inverter or battery inverter can ensure that your system works no matter what the weather is like outside.
Are Off-grid Solar Systems Ideal for You?
If you’re ready to introduce a solar system into your home, it’s important to size your solar array carefully. This means understanding your load table and getting the right inverter and battery. That is often a challenge for beginners, especially if they have no real skills in setting up electrical systems.
Those who want more detailed information can reach out to Assurance Electrical for assistance. We are the highly-preferred licensed electrician and solar contractor in Prescott, Arizona. Our purpose is to serve our customers with quality and integrity. Call us today to get started!
Do you have any questions or stories to share about off-grid power systems? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation in the comments section below!
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