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When you’re looking to go off grid, there are several options, but you’ll often begin by asking: Can solar alone get me off grid?
The answer to this question is “yes,” but keep reading if you want more details.
Using solar to go off grid is a fantastic way to go. You’ll need to keep the following in mind throughout the process:
1. Cloudy days are fine. Let’s first dispel the myth that you need every day to be sunny to go solar. Solar panels do, in fact, work in foggy or overcast days with ambient light and will produce significant power in those times as well. As a matter of fact, solar panels can work just as well in cool weather as in hot weather.
As an example: Solar panels in Sacramento, California, only produce one percent more electricity than do the exact same panels in San Francisco, California. Sacramento is known for its hot sunny days while San Francisco is known for its foggy, overcast, cooler climate.
2. Monitor your electricity usage. The average American home uses 911 KWHs of electricity each month1. Some states are higher and some lower. But, 911 is the average. Louisiana is the highest with 1,291 KWHs and Hawaii the lowest with 506 KWHs of electrical energy usage average per household.
We all use more electricity than we need, so consider cutting back. But there are solar system calculators that you can use to ensure you’re getting enough power. Having a little more than you need is far better than not having enough.
3. Off the grid or grid-tied? Many don’t fully understand how grid-connect systems work. With a grid-connect system, you don’t have power storage batteries. You generate power, use what you need and deliver the rest to the grid.
You have no back-up batteries. If the power goes out for the grid, your power goes out, as well. At night when you’re not generating power, you are buying it from the grid. So, you’re selling it to them during the day, and buying it back at night.
If you’re going 100 percent off grid, then you’ll want to go with a battery storage system. This way, you are creating power all day and storing the excess for nighttime usage.
Should Solar Be My Only System?
You most certainly can use solar for your entire energy production and it will generally work out just fine.
If you’re confident that you have more than enough room to have a solar power system larger than your needs and have more than enough battery backup for extended times without generating power, then you should be good to go.
You may, however, wish to consider a second system that also provides as much power as you need. It doesn’t have to be a very costly system. But, putting all your eggs in one basket could be problematic at some point in the future.
Twenty years going 100 percent off-grid with solar would not have been possible. But with today’s advances in solar technologies, it’s not only viable, but it’s practical and wise as well.
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