What are off-grid solar systems?
Off-grid solar systems are solar panel systems not connected to the power grid at all. They completely rely on electricity powered by the sun and stored in batteries.
There are 3 main types of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. A solar PV system is a type that converts solar irradiation into electrical power. Your energy needs determine which type of system would be best for you.
The Three Main Types of solar panel systems:
- Off-grid (no connection to the electrical power grid)
- Grid-interactive (grid-supported or battery backup; also known as hybrid solar systems)
- Grid-tied (relies on the electric utility; no batteries)
In this article we will cover some main functions regarding off-grid solar systems.
Off-Grid Solar Systems:
Off-grid solar systems are perfect for remote locations far away from the closest electric lines.
A few examples include:
- Remote get-aways
- Hunting cabins
- Off-grid homes or lodges
- Rural-areas power needs such as water pumping
- Plain communities (such as Amish and Mennonite)
- Developing countries
- Much, much more
The further away from the closest electric line that the location is, the more sense off-grid solar systems make, especially if the electricity consumption needs are relatively small. If the needs exceed approximately 5 kilowatt hours per day, then seriously consider adding the electric grid to assist with the power needs, especially if there is electric service available within ~1/4th. mile. If the power usage is below 1 to 5 kilowatt hours per day, then off-grid solar systems can be excellent solutions for remote power needs.
There are some off-grid applications where there are no batteries, and power only gets used when the sun shines. However, most off-grid systems do use batteries. Batteries can only store a finite amount of power, so power conservation helps a lot in making an off-grid system perform as expected.
Power conservation means choosing the right appliances and learning usage habits so the energy storage does not run out… much like a tank of fuel in a vehicle can only drive so many miles before you have to fill it up.
- Education: Power conservation and knowing how much power is stored up can go a long way in user satisfaction & performance.
- Performance: The practice of sizing properly, and using the proper components, goes a long way in overall solar system performance & value.
- Neatness: With wiring especially, if it is not neat and labeled properly, who wins? Probably no one. Neatness can go a long way in avoiding problems with the user not knowing how to use it, future costs for add-on needs or remodeling needs, and even safety. Neatness and a level of simplicity should stand high on the priority list.
Off-grid solar systems can have their limitations, but if designed right and used correctly, they can bring light and power to locations that otherwise might have neither. When done right, off-grid solar systems can provide a whole new level of ease-of-use, comfort, and cleanliness where it otherwise might not be possible.
Are Off-Grid Solar Systems Right For Everyone?
Installing off-grid solar systems and going completely off the grid is not for everyone. It is a great thing to do and for the right people it works incredibly well. We would be happy to help you make that decision and if you already know you have what it takes to go off-grid we can help you design and install an off-grid system. We’ve been designing and installing solar panel systems for almost 20 years and we can help you too.
The level of satisfaction that the off-grid users often convey in their feedback is not easy to obtain, but seeing a smile on one more person’s face makes the hard work very worthwhile.
But if you pick the right off-grid solar panel installer, it will be easy! If you live in Pennsylvania, northern Maryland, southern New Jersey, or northern Delaware, it would be our pleasure to answer any questions you have about off-grid solar systems or help you plan an installation.