What does ‘off-grid’ mean?
Going off-grid means completely disconnecting your home from the national energy grid, and relying solely on the energy generated from your household solar and battery storage system.
How does ‘off-grid’ compare to ‘on-grid’?
Gain energy independence
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of off grid living is that of gaining total energy independence with power most often coming froma generator. With the unpredictability and increase of energy prices in recent times, even if you are careful with your energy use, you may still be receiving high electricity bills. This is where off-grid systems come into play. Having an off-grid power system means you won’t need to pay fixed connection costs to the big utility companies or have ongoing power bills, and you can achieve 100% independence from electricity retailers – future proofing your home from rising energy costs.
In addition, connecting to the grid if you live in a rural area can be extremely costly, and the hurdles you may have to jump over can be frustrating.
Comparing the economics of going off grid vs staying grid connected can be difficult, what with the cost of solar and batteries decreasing, whilst grid power prices are increasing, especially with inventions like the Tesla powerwall, off-grid is becoming increasingly attractive to the average homeowner.
If we were to use an example of a grid connected house using 5kWh per day, on average they will be paying about $511 per year for electricity – plus supply charges. An off-grid system sized for 5kWh/day can cost around $30,000. So if you are looking at going off grid only for financial reasons, then it’s probably not the right choice for you. A better option would be to stay connected to the grid, and installing battery storage to make the most of your solar
So when you compare the two systems side by side, it appears that taking a grid connected house off grid is not very financially advantageous.
One of the biggest advantages of being off the grid is that you are completely energy independent from rising electricity bills by locking in your power costs for the next decade at least. For those who are facing a costly network connection and/or those concerned about the unpredictability of energy prices, then going off grid might be the best choice for you.
Protection from Blackouts
When you are connected to the grid and there is a power failure or blackout, there is literally nothing you can do about it, except wait until power is restored. With an off-grid system, you generate and store your own energy and so you are in control of your own system, so in the event that something was to go wrong, you will be able to fix it rather than relying on the network technicians.
Increase Your Property Value
Solar and battery storage adds value to your property and is likely to make it easier to sell. 85% of Australians agree, and a number of studies also support this.
We all know that solar energy is cleaner than using fossil fuels, so using a renewable energy. Another common comment and reason for many of our clients going off grid, is that there is also something satisfying about knowing that the energy you are producing is clean and renewable, rather than using grid power that is sourced from non-renewable sources.
Overall, going off-grid has many great advantages and benefits. From saving you money to helping the environment. So, whether you’re just looking for a greener solution or want to cut the cord from the utility companies, off-grid systems are a great option.
What percentage of Australians live off-grid?
Two percent of Australians currently live off grid, which typically involves disconnecting – or not connecting at all, if you’re building – from municipal water, sewerage, gas and electricity services.
Alternative to solar for living off-grid
A typical wind turbine, will have an energy payback of less than 6 months and a carbon dioxide payback of around 6 months.A typical home uses approximately 10,932 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year (about 911 kilowatt-hours per month). Depending on the average wind speed in the area, a wind turbine rated in the range of 5–15 kilowatts would be required to make a significant contribution to this demand.
Pros & Cons of ‘off-grid’
Pro: Big Monthly Savings
Despite the bigger initial costs, having a larger supply of renewable energy will save you money from month to month on utilities. The amount of cash you save will be different depending on where you live and what kind of solar system you own. On average, the typical off grid homeowner saves around 20 grand a month, for over 20 years in most states.
With net metering, you can also sell energy back to the electric company, although you need to be tied to the grid in one way or another. If you are looking to use your own energy, you will still want to have ties to your local energy company in order to transition from grid-tied to off the grid.
Con: Solar Is Pricier
According to the best solar companies in Bakersfield, California, the initial costs alone can be intimidating, and one of the main reasons why homeowners stay on the grid. It costs less to buy a smaller solar system and still be somewhat dependent on the electric company.
Pro: No Blackouts
Being grid-tied does have its limits. When your neighborhood has no power, you have no power. With being off the grid, though, you will still have power, even if the rest of your neighborhood does not. Power outages can be real nuisances, and you would like to have power all the time. Having 100% energy from the sun means that you are sure to always have power so long as the sun is out.
If you own a grid-tied solar system, and a blackout occurs in your area, your house will still lose power, simply because it poses a threat to electricians that might work to restore power to the neighborhood. In which case, an off grid solar system sounds like a more appealing decision.
Con: No Backup Power Source
If you are off the grid, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your solar system might not experience a few problems down the road. Being independent from the grid can be great, but it also can really sound terrifying if you lose power while the rest of the neighborhood still has theirs.
Because it is your very own solar system that goes haywire, that means it is your problem to fix, not the city’s problem. This means that you will need to study your solar system and read up on possible errors as well as the right ways to fix them so that you can solve the problems much faster.
Off grid solar systems can be a real luxury, but they can also be more trouble than they are worth. It is great however to have options when it comes to home solar energy.
What will you need?
For a diy off-grid solar power system, you need four basic components
1. Solar Panel (PV Panel)
Besides the above components you need a few more things like Copper Wire, MC4 Connector, breaker, meter, and fuses, etc.
Can you set it up yourself?
Yes, please here for a step-by-step breakdown of how to attempt it yourself.
Off-grid solar system prices
Small 2Br home: $15,000 – $25,000
Average 3Br home: $15,000 – $25,000
Average 4Br home: $25,000 – $45,000
Best off-grid solar panel systems in Australia
1. ECO-WORTHY 1000 Watt 1KW Off Grid Solar System
2. WindyNation 400 Watt Solar Panel Kit
3. ECO LLC 900W 24V Complete Off Grid Solar System Kit
4. WindyNation 400 Watt Solar Kit
5. Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Off Grid Solar Premium Kit
6. ECO-WORTHY 240 Watt 12V Solar Panel Kit
7. Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Solar Panel
8. ECO-WORTHY 200 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel