As rooftop solar spreads, battery technology continues to make strong developmental leaps forward alongside it, making going off the grid an option that is becoming increasingly viable for both residential and commercial application. Below, we will explore the benefits, drawbacks, and steps to taking a solar system off the grid.
- Electrical infrastructure is expensive; wiring power lines to rural areas with sparse population can be range anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000 per mile. Having to extend power grids out to remote, few-and-far between properties is an incredibly arduous process, both physically and financially.
- A centralized power grid is also prone to downtime and outages - as well as security vulnerabilities - which potentially effects all customers of that particular infrastructure, leaving them powerless if not for private generators. Businesses providing services ranging anywhere from cold storage to medical treatment can suffer severe negative effects from even a momentary outage.
- As technology evolves and becomes increasingly accessible to the average consumer, the vision of a decentralized electrical infrastructure becomes a clearer goal for the future.
- Even with the advancements that batteries have made - and continue to make - installing a solar system of sufficient capacity and battery storage remains prohibitively expensive for most potential users.
- Many counties and communities also have regulations for homes and grid compatibility, so research may be required to ensure that no illegalities are being committed in the process of disconnecting from a centralized utility.
Going Off the Grid
What you will need:
- A solar system capable of generating roughly 200% of your daytime usage.
- A battery storage system.
Rooftop solar installations operate at peak efficiency during daylight hours, but lack the ability to store it or continue harvesting energy overnight without an external battery storage system. While a grid-tie system will revert to pulling energy from the utility during this downtime, an off-grid system utilizes battery storage to keep everything up and running through the night.
Precise analysis of 24 hour usage trends will help to develop the most accurate picture of how much power is needed for the overnight period in comparison to the day time, but a safe assumption is that a 100% capacity system will need to be doubled in order to keep up with consumption during the time that power would otherwise be drawn from the grid.