Solar Energy Home Page - Off Grid Homes Systems

Off Grid Homes - Residential Solar Electric Systems

What are off grid systems? Is a totally off-grid system the right system for your pocketbook and needs?

We've put together information to help you make the right choice for your residential solar electric power.
We have considered the first two of the three main systems on other pages and now will consider off grid residential solar electric systems.

Off Grid residential solar electric systems - Independent Solar Power Systems

An off-grid home solar energy system is one that is completely separate and independent from a power utility company's grid. It produces sufficient power from solar energy to supply the power demands of the home.

For reliable power in remote locations, often these systems are the only choice.
What do off grid residential solar electric systems consist of? In general:
Comparing these totally-independent residential solar electric systems with the Grid-Tied and Grid-Tied plus Battery systems, there a number of advantages and disadvantages that could affect your choice of systems.

Off Grid Homes - Advantages

  • Ideal for Remote Use: These systems are great for cabins or cottages that don't have a utility nearby.  

    • The cost of a system is usually far less than running power lines into the property.

  • Totally Independent: Maybe best reason of all, the user is not dependent on an outside entity for the power needs.

  • Optimum Power Management: Since you generate, store, and use all your own power you can optimize your usage.

Off Grid Homes - Disadvantages

  • Complicated: These residential solar electric systems are more complex than grid-tied systems.
    • The increased system complexity means more components to install and tie together.

    The Secrets of DIY Solar Power Revealed:
    • How solar panels make electricity
    • How to use a multi-tester device
    • Basic electronics concepts and practices
    • How to solder correctly
    • Everything you need to know about batteries
    • How charge controllers work
    • How inverters work
    • Panel mounting and fabrication
    • Sun tracking and why you should use it
    • System estimation and design concepts
    • Tax incentives and rebates
    • System payout
    • System maintenance

  • Need a Backup: Because these off-grid home systems are independent of any local power company grid, it is likely you will need a backup power generator for times when the sun doesn't come out for days and your batteries go dead.

  • Higher Cost: An off-grid home system is going to cost you about twice as much as a grid-tied system. That is due to needing the extra batteries and components.

  • Require More Maintenance: Once again, because these  residential solar electric systems use a number of batteries, more maintenance is needed. 
    • The battery fluid must be checked on a regular basis. 
    • Any corrosion must be removed in a timely manner. The more complex system with more battery connections requres vigilant cleaning to prevent damaging corrosion.
    • On top of that, batteries will need to be replaced every 5 to 10 years.

  • Less Efficient Use of the Solar Power: Charging the batteries in off grid homes systems takes more energy than using the power directly. It takes about 10 to 20 percent of your solar energy to charge them, and this is energy you won't have available.

  • Environmental Concerns: The manufacturing and disposal of batteries involves chemicals and metals that most eco-minded consumers would rather avoid.
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