Answer: Off-grid solar is a solar panel system 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. The right type depends on your needs.
The three main types of solar panel systems are:
- 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.
Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems
Off-grid solar energy is 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, then the more sense off-grid makes, 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 power can be an excellent solution 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 has a finite range before needing refueling.
- 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 can have its limitations, but if designed right and used correctly, it can bring light and power to locations that otherwise might have neither. When done right, off-grid solar power can provide a whole new level of ease-of-use, comfort, and cleanliness where it otherwise might not be possible.
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 install an off-grid solar system for you.