There has never been a better time to invest in an off-grid solar power system.
Governments are less reliable at providing reliable energy through the grid. The price of coal and oil has skyrocketed and this means energy is fast becoming a massive problem for humanity.
Millions are now turning for off-grid solutions to help them sleep at night, knowing that they are taking care of their own energy needs from a free and renewable source like the Sun or the wind.
Off-grid solar power means that you are independent from the main electricity grid in your area. All the power you need is generated independently through your own energy systems. Solar power is one of the most reliable sources of independent energy for off-grid systems.
The dangers of fossil fuels and the effects on climate change is also driving change in behavior across the planet. Why rely on the grid which is powered by polluting coal when you can generate your own energy cheaply and cleanly?
There have been massive blackouts across many areas lately. Some parts of the world, like South Africa, experience constant load shedding which is what happens when the government turns off electricity to areas on a rotational basis because the grid cannot cope with the electricity demand. This can be caused by old infrastructure, lack of maintenance, direct sabotage and poor weather or wild fires.
Energy independence through off-grid solar power systems makes more and more sense, right?
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Off-grid solar power kit for your home
Did you know you can buy a kit that comes with all the components you need to get up and running with solar?
Solar power kits are ideal for people who have the ability and desire to set up a solar solution by themselves. They may go completely DIY or ask a professional to install the kit they bought.
Types of off-grid solar power kits
Fully off-grid kits allow you to be completely independent from the grid. Your solar kit is not connected to the grid at all. This is great for those who are far away from the grid or who want to become truly, 100% independent.
Your fully off-grid kit will contain:
- Solar panels
- Battery storage system
- Charge controller
- Connectors, cables and mounting systems
Grid-tied kits allow you to go partially off-grid and the kit acts as a backup or supplement to grid power.
The grid-tied kit will contain the same components as your off-grid system but also things you need to safely connect to the grid.
Remember that when you connect to the grid a number of things apply. Your installation must be done by a certified professional who ensures you comply with local laws about connecting to the grid. You may, depending on your area, be eligible to earn credits for the energy you provide into the grid.
There are also serious insurance implications when it comes to solar power. Make sure you have the necessary certifications and approvals before you proceed. We always recommend a professional does the installation for you – DIY can come with all sorts of problems in the long run!
Let’s take a deeper look at what you typically get with an off-grid solar power kit…
Inside an off-grid solar power kit
What you get as part of your kit will depend on the manufacturer and the specifications of the system.
We highly recommend that you do some research (like checking out our articles) and understand what you need. You will need to know your daily energy needs and how much you are currently spending on electricity.
Typically your kit will contain:
- Solar panels (monocrystalline or polycrystalline, depending on your budget and needs)
- An inverter which converts DC power (from the panels) to AC power (which your appliances need)
- A charge controller which regulates the power from the solar panels before passing these to the inverter and battery system
- Batteries (lead acid are cheaper but don’t last long vs lithium ion batteries which are more efficient and last 20+ years)
- Controller and monitor with a visual control panel so you can see the status of your system
- All the cables and fittings you need
- Fuses and fuse holders
Typically each solar panel is rated at between 150 and 250 Watts. Inverters are usually 12V, 24V or 48V and the entire system can supply the required energy for between 8 and 12 hours on full charge, depending on the kit you get.
How many solar panels do I need?
Your solar panels charge your battery system. The larger the capacity of your battery system, the more panels you need. Remember that you can have many panels but if your battery system is small your home won’t be able to receive the energy it needs for long.
You need to have the right size battery system and the right number of solar panels for your specific energy needs.
We recommend you use a solar panel calculator to help understand your energy needs.
Who needs an off-grid solar power kit?
We like to think everyone does! The people who will find a kit most useful include:
- Off-road enthusiasts
- Anyone living far away from the grid
- Anyone who wants to move away from an unreliable, polluting and expensive coal-powered energy grid
How to calculate your off-grid power needs
So you are looking for a complete off-grid solution? What you need to remember is that you need to be realistic about what you can run.
Off-grid living may mean changing your lifestyle to suit your budget. You may not be able to run your electric oven that often or use the AC or washing machine as often as you want. The budget you have will determine how large you can go with independent energy generation.
If you simply want to take your existing home and take it completely off-grid, you would look at your current power bill and how many kilowatt hours you use in a month and then try and reproduce the same amount of power from solar. This might end up being more expensive then you expected initially which means you might need to make some lifestyle changes and learn how to conserve energy!
You will first try and store all the energy you need for your daily household use in a battery system and then set up the relevant number of solar panels for a battery system of that size.
Make a list of your appliances and lights and how long you will use them for. Understanding the energy consumption by appliance will help you calculate your total energy needs. Know how long per day each appliance needs to run. You should do this room by room so you have a logical way of calculating your energy needs.
Once you have a clear picture of your energy needs (in a spreadsheet or piece of paper) you can start planning what solar kit you should get.
Kits can go all the way from supplying power to a small room or cabin to full-scale systems for a house or lodge. Scale according to your budget and needs, but remember that you should live more energy efficiently in any case.