If you are thinking of installing an off-grid solar system, there are a few things that you need to consider before setting up your system. But besides that, choosing renewable energy to power your home, business or survival shelter is a great way to save or completely eliminate your electricity bill. Furthermore, solar energy is reliable, clean and sustainable. And most likely it will never run out of fuel, unless real SHTF happens and nuclear winter shields the Sun permanently.
Why you should install off grid solar system?
There are many motivations that drive people to become off-gridders. The common ones being cost and environmental concerns not to forget preparedness for different situations that could wipe out infrastructure including power grid.
Going off-grid means that you are going to be fully dependent on a renewable energy source for all your electricity needs. It means that none of the systems will be connected to an electricity grid. It suits perfectly for survival shelters, as they are most likely located in the areas where power grids are not even nearby. Harnessing solar energy is also an excellent way to prepare for example for EMP, which could cause entire power grid network to collapse for years.
You could want to go off-grid for a whole different reason other than the ones mentioned, but whatever your goals are for going off-grid, keep in mind that these goals may determine the type of system you setup.
Factors that you will need to consider before installing an off-grid solar system include cost, type of system, operational costs and location.
How much solar system for alternative energy costs?
The cost factor is determined by the amount of electricity you need to power your home or survival shelter etc. place. If you are planning on installing an off-grid solar system to power your home. You need to determine just how much power is sufficient to meet your energy needs. One way to do this is by looking at your electric bills, which will show how many kilowatts you use every month.
Analyze your power needs to help determine just how much it will cost you to install an off-grid system. Keep in mind that installing an off-grid system may be expensive, but once it is running, you only have to worry about maintenance costs, which are relatively low.
What kind of solar power systems are available?
The cost of installing a basic off-grid solar system can range anywhere between $1000 and $1500. It may be cheap and your house will have light, but that is just about it. These simple systems do not generate enough energy to power household appliances or electronics, not to mention electric heaters or tools. However, for very basic needs they might be just fine.
But, if you are looking to install an off-grid solar system that generates enough energy to power your home and all your household appliances and electronics, this type of system will set you back about $5,000 to $20,000. Note that this type of system can only power a small bungalow.
But, if you want to power a four or five bed roomed house, you need to purchase one of those top-end models capable of generating enough energy to power such a sizable home and all its appliances and electronics. However, to install such a system, you must be willing to part with a good chunk of your money. $30,000 or more, to be precise.
The bottom line is, you need to strike a balance between energy efficiency with comfort and convenience. You may not need a very expensive off-grid solar system if you are comfortable using a minimal number of appliances. You can decide to do away with the microwave or hoover. Anything that you feel will require too much power to run and you can do without it, then consider tossing it out.
Location to a large extent is key when installing an off-grid system if you want the system to perform at its optimum. If you are self-installing the solar system, you must ensure that the solar panels are in the most ideal position to receive as much sunlight as possible. Keep in mind that, it does not matter whether it is hot or cold, as long as there is nothing casting a shadow or covering your solar panels, you are good. If any of your panels are partially receiving sunlight, this can reduce the system’s overall performance
In winter, especially during a snowstorm, your roof and solar panels may be covered with snow, which means that your system will not to generate any kind of energy. So you need to keep your panels clear.
Once you have installed your off-grid solar system, the operational costs may vary. Smaller off grid solar kits do not need a lot of maintenance. However, bigger systems are different. You will need fuel to run the generator, wood or propane to heat water, cook among other uses. Consider the cost of maintaining your batteries. Usually, batteries last for more than 5 years, although it is recommended that after 5 years of use, you should replace them. You need to factor the battery cost for the first 5-year term into your system cost.
Depending on your system, your annual cost could be as little as $1000, or more than $5000.
How much space solar power system needs?
How much space solar power system needs depends on what kind of system your are planning to install. Is it just a smaller off grid solr kit or complete solar power system?
If you are planning on going off-grid completely, you need to ask yourself if you have sufficient space on your roof or other places to install the solar panels. You also need to consider the direction your roof is facing. Panels needs to face in a direction in which it will receive maximum sunlight. Alternatively, you can set up the panels on your back or front yard, whichever works best, as long as there is no object nearby, such as a tree that will cast a shadow on the panels.
As for the batteries, ensure that they are placed or stored in a place where the temperatures are not too low, or at least in an area where the temperature is controlled. If the batteries freeze, their capacity will drop drastically. Another thing you will want is all your equipment near each other for not just space reasons, but for cost reasons as well.
The cables that you will need to connect to the various components, do not come cheap. For every added foot, that is an extra cost. Therefore, try to keep your cable-length short by ensuring that your batteries are close all the other system components.
Benefits of an off-grid solar system
- Energy independent. One of the main benefits of installing an off-grid solar system is that you will not experience power outages that come with using a utility grid. Of course unless your solar system experiences some technical problems. Remember, that solar systems depend on sunlight to generate energy, which is then stored in batteries. So you will always have electricity as long the system is working properly.
- No electricity bills. We all hate paying bills. But imagine, if your home has power all throughout the year without you ever paying a single electricity bill. This is the advantage that off-grid solar power systems offer. Better yet, these systems are cheap to maintain.
- Easier to install. Compared to the traditional electrical power grids, off-grid solar systems are easy to install. They do not require complex network designs and infrastructure for them to be installed. These simple systems can be installed anywhere, as they are not dependent on any existing infrastructure.
- Environmentally friendly. Solar energy is a form of renewable energy. It is clean, reliable and sustainable. The world today is fighting global warming, which according to numerous reports is attributed to the emission of greenhouse gases. It is time that more people consider using renewable energy in the fight against global warming.
You can always count on an off-grid solar system even in an emergency situation. They are cheap to maintain. They generate clean and reliable energy. You never have to worry about paying electricity bills ever again. You can set them up anywhere, as long as there is sunlight, which gives you the freedom to live far from noisy, polluted and densely populated cities.
In some regions, you may need to meet some legal requirements, before you can be allowed to install an off-grid solar system. There are countries that have completely banned off-grid living (can you imagine that? Yes, it’s big brother that’s watching more and more, so better to be well prepared!), so make sure you are well-informed to avoid violating any restrictions that come with setting up an off-grid solar system on your property.