Off-Grid Power Storage Using Solar Panels & Batteries
“Cutting the cord” isn’t just limited to how people now watch TV. More and more homeowners are asking about setting up an off-grid power system. Going completely independent from conventional power is attractive for many reasons, including lower electricity costs, helping the environment and never worrying about power outages.
With solar panels and solar batteries regularly dropping in price, both are getting more attractive as a renewable energy alternative. Still, there’s a lot more to becoming power-independent than canceling your utility contract. Here are the basics about off-the-grid power systems for homes and whether it’s a possibility for you.
What is “Going off the Grid”?
First, we need to look at what it means to go off-grid. A building that’s “off the grid” no longer has any connection to whatever larger electrical grid is in your area. To accomplish this, you must be able to meet all your home or business power needs with electricity that’s generated on-site.
Simply installing panels and a solar power generator doesn’t mean you’re off the grid. A large majority of home solar systems are grid-tied to the utility company. The homeowner receives credits on their utility bill for excess power generated via net metering, and in turn, they’re able to purchase grid power during periods when their panels can’t produce enough energy.
Some people prefer this hybrid power system either for the safety net it provides or because they’re unable to install enough solar panels to feed their power-hungry building. However, if your panels consistently generate more than 100% of your electricity needs, then separating from the utility company may be a possibility.
Solar Panel Storage Batteries
If you want to go off the grid this year, the main thing you’ll need is a solar panel battery bank. By hooking them to a solar PV system, the connected batteries will store the excess electricity generated when it’s sunny. Then, at night, your home will start drawing from the batteries. You’ll also need an off-grid solar inverter to convert the DC battery power into AC power that appliances and devices can use.
The setup sound easy enough at first. There is a pretty significant obstacle, though: Mother Nature. A small solar battery array will get you through a single night, but it won’t be enough for several rainy days in a row or a winter storm. You’re going to need a lot of batteries to prevent total power loss during these extended periods – and possibly some additional solar panels too.
The costs of a truly independent system can add up fast. Even if you can afford it, there might not be space for it. As such, even many homeowners who use solar storage batteries still maintain a grid-tie just in case – unless they live in remote areas where connecting to the grid is difficult or impossible.
Save Money On or Off the Grid
You don’t have to sever your utility ties to experience the benefits of solar power. EnergySage solar industry data has found the average solar panel user offsets 92.5% of conventional electricity use. Even without going off the grid, you’ll realize significant financial savings and help the environment too. The Inverter Store has a large selection of solar equipment for grid-tied, off-grid or hybrid systems. Call or email us to learn more!