Off Grid Solar Energy
Learn more about off grid solar systems.
Off Grid Solar Systems
Off grid solar energy systems (also known as independent solar power or stand alone solar power) are completely independent of the power grid.
This means that with off grid solar systems there is no utility company power as a back up.
You use only what your solar energy system produces and what you have stored in your battery bank.
It is for this reason, off grid solar energy systems typically have much bigger battery banks than grid tied solar systems with a battery back up.
Off grid solar systems, (typically used to power cabins or remote locations) are often used in conjunction with other renewable and non renewable energy sources such as windmills, hydro electric turbines and AC generators. When two or more sources charge the battery bank, it's known as a hybrid power system.
The Off Grid Solar Power System Set Up
Typical stand alone solar power systems consist of solar panels (to collect the power), an array DC disconnect (to be able to cut the power from the PV panels), a charge controller (to regulate the charge to the battery), a battery bank (to store power), a system meter (to monitor power usage and status), a main DC disconnect (to cut power to battery bank / inverter), an inverter (to convert it from DC to AC), an AC breaker panel (to accept and distribute power to your household loads). A generator can also be connected to the inverter as back up power. You can see a diagram of this solar system set up by clicking here to go to the Solar System Types section of our website.
Off grid solar systems are usually set up to handle a good couple of days of cloudy weather and can always rely on the generator in case of emergency.
If it's sunny, these stand alone solar power systems draw power from the solar panels, but if it's cloudy or night time, they will draw it from the battery bank. If the battery bank goes empty, the generator can be used for independent power.
When Is a Stand Alone Solar Power System a Good Idea?
Although the initial cost of an off grid solar system is higher than a grid tied solar system, off grid solar systems can be a more economical choice in the long term especially in remote places where you would have to have utility poles erected and bring power lines in to do a grid tied set up.
Also, without the grid, you will never get a utility bill again and this makes a big difference in your energy savings over time.
The big benefit with off grid solar is once it's installed, electricity will be free for the next 40 years or so.
Though it costs more to set up a totally stand alone solar power system, the money you save in the long run is definitely worth it.
If you do the math, it becomes clear that off grid solar power makes a lot of sense if you have the initial bucks, want to be completely independent of the grid, and especially for remote location applications.
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