Living Off the Grid With Solar Power

Off grid cabin in the woods

Every homeowner knows it -- that sinking feeling as you head towards your mailbox around the end of the month, knowing there will be a pile of utility bills waiting for you.

 

The costs associated with connecting to local utilities is probably why living off the grid is becoming such an attractive option for so many Americans today. Living off grid presents advantages that can be compelling. When you're off the grid, you essentially become your own utility, producing power as and when you need it. You also cut the risk of being without electricity in the event of a power loss due to repair work, or weather-related events.

 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that utility rates will go up by 33% to 83% over the course of the next 25 years. At these estimates, living off the grid begins to make sense, especially since the latest advances in solar technology have allowed PV and thermal panels to become cheaper. Indeed, the U.S. investment bank, Morgan Stanley reported1 that the off the grid era had finally arrived, thanks to the falling prices of renewable energy equipment such as solar panels. 

 

That being said, there are certain pitfalls of going off grid that you should be aware of. For starters, you need to get a solar battery backup in place. These can cost quite a bit and also need to be maintained on a regular basis. So while you do become grid independent, you also will be paying an unreasonably high amount for doing so.

 

With off grid systems, you also cannot avail state sponsored financial incentives such as rebates, tax refunds, and SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits).

 

Grid tied systems come with the added advantage of net-metering, in which you can sell the excess electricity your solar power system produces, and make a faster return on your investment. Not to mention, the grid itself acts as a backup to your solar power system, which can draw power from it during night time, and when there is cloud cover.

 

If you are not living in a remote location or in a place where blackouts are common, then it may make more sense to remain connected to the grid.

 

Thankfully, the price of energy storage has been plummeting as well. The electric car giant Tesla has introducts its "Powerwall" series of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are especially designed to be used in homes for storing electricity. Coming in 7 kWh and 10 kWh versions, the batteries are a perfect fit for off grid solar systems.

 

Though Tesla has barely even started producing (its Gigafactory won't go online till 2019), and yet they already have competition2. Daimler-Mercedes for example, announced its entry into the stationary battery market with a similar product. The Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD (Build Your Dream) is also setting up a battery production facility similar to Tesla's Gigafactory, as is Samsung SDI, which makes all the batteries for BMW, Chrysler and Audi vehicles.

 

While energy storage may seem like a premium market for now, increasing competition and production will bring the prices down, allowing more people to get off grid solar systems, and live on their own terms.

 

Off grid solar panels are far more economical today than they were just a few years ago. If you are interested in finding out more on how an off grid solar system can help you out, then start by getting a free quote from us. Our experienced engineers and consultants can help you find the right fit for your requirements so that you save the most.

 

Related

 

Notes

1Off-Grid Living in the Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/apr/11/power-energy-companies

2All This Battery Hype Should Make Tesla Investors Nervous, http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2015/05/12/all-this-battery-hype-should-make-tesla-investors-nervous/

What Can You Save With Solar?

With no end in sight for soaring electricity rates, your switch to solar will secure affordable power for your home & family for years to come.