Off grid Solar Power FAQ
Off grid Solar Power FAQ
You Have Questions, We Have Answers
For many, the term “off grid” conjures images of people who decide to break away from society to live in a forest or on top of a mountain. They willingly give up modern conveniences—even the internet and electricity. They’re hermits.
But these are stereotypes. It’s true that some might want to escape it all, but many people go off grid and live modern lives—complete with electricity. So then, what does it mean to go off grid? How do you go off grid and keep your modern conveniences? We’ve got the answers to these questions and more in this off grid solar power FAQ.
What does it mean to go off grid?
Most people rely on this thing known as “the grid” for electricity—a vast network that delivers energy produced by power plants to our homes and businesses.
When you go “off grid,” you disconnect from this traditional source of on-demand electricity. Instead, you have an independent solution to generate the power you need. Rather than pay a utility company for electricity, you become self-reliant.
Why should I go off grid?
You know what they say: location, location, location. If you’re too far from the grid, you can’t use it. Having your own power source makes sense. You might be concerned about the reliability of the traditional grid, especially with the increasing number of catastrophic weather events and the growing electricity demand. An off grid power system will be there for you no matter what happens.
Outside of just being too far away from the grid, other reasons to consider power-grid-free living include:
- You have a small home with modest energy needs
- You want to avoid the rising costs of traditionally supplied electricity and monthly bills
- You want to be self-sufficient
- You want to use only clean, renewable energy to reduce your carbon footprint
How do I go off grid?
Before going off grid, decide just how far off the grid you want to be. Do you want to go entirely off grid—happy hermit?—or are you only looking to remove yourself from the traditional electrical grid? Going entirely off the grid takes much more planning—you’ll need to figure out solutions for electricity, water, plumbing, and growing and storing food.
If you’re only looking to get off the electrical grid, then off grid is a bit easier. You just need an alternative to grid-supplied electricity.
What do I need to go off grid?
Off grid energy options include gas, wind, and solar. Of the three, solar power—energy harvested from the sun—is the best choice. Sunshine is free and abundant. Generating electricity from the sun is safe, quiet, and has the least impact on the environment.
A solar power system typically includes solar panels, an inverter, and cables to connect everything. A solar battery is essential if you want to store excess electricity generated during the day, so the lights still work after the sun sets.
What is off grid vs. on grid solar power?
With off grid solar power, your solar power system generates all the power you use. Your system harvests sunlight and converts it into usable electricity. You are disconnected from the traditional electrical grid completely.
With an off grid solar power system, you’re entirely self-reliant. A grid-tied solar energy system, or hybrid system, allows you to generate electricity for your home while remaining connected to the electrical grid. The grid-supplied energy supplements the solar power you generate. If you produce more than you need during the day, you can sell the excess back to the grid or store it in a solar battery.
An on grid solar energy system might not give you complete independence, but it can help reduce electricity costs and serves as a stepping stone to complete independence.
How does solar power work?
Here’s a quick rundown of how solar energy works:
- Photovoltaic (PV) cells absorb sunlight and create a direct current (DC) energy flow
- DC energy moves to an inverter and is converted into useable alternating current (AC) electricity
- AC electricity goes through your electrical panel, which disperses it to your home to power your lights, appliances, and electronic devices
- Excess electricity goes to a solar battery if you have one
What is an off grid solar power kit?
An off grid solar power kit contains all the equipment you’ll need to start generating electricity and obtaining energy independence. It includes everything from solar panels to cables and is custom tailored to your specific needs.
You can find high-quality solar power kits online through a reputable retailer. Don’t worry if you don’t know which kit is right for you—it’s not that difficult to figure it out. You can find the kit that will do the job once you figure out just how much electricity you need:
- If you’re retrofitting an on grid home, look at your current power bills to find your average consumption
- For new construction, use an online solar energy calculator
- Consult with a solar power kit professional
Why should I use a solar kit to go off grid?
When you want to go off grid, you have two options: a solar company or a solar kit. Solar companies bring everything to your home and get everything installed. Kits, on the other hand, come with all the parts you need to get started. So, why go with a kit? Consider the benefits:
- It’s about half the price of buying a system from a solar company
- The installation is DIY friendly, which saves even more money
- It comes with everything you need to produce your own solar energy
- Kits are upgradeable if your energy needs change
- Kits can last for decades with regular maintenance
- With the right solar kit retailer, you can get a lifetime of customer support
If need more convincing or if you just like lists, you can check our top 10 reasons to use a solar kit to go off-grid.
How much does it cost to go off grid with solar?
As with everything, it depends:
- What is the amount of electricity you need to generate?
- How much electricity do you want to store?
- What equipment quality will you be satisfied with?
- Is customer support important to you?
The bigger the system and battery, the more it will cost. High-quality equipment comes with a higher price tag, but quality components function better, require less maintenance, and last longer. They may charge a bit more than a big-box or giant corporation, but reputable companies specializing in solar kits prioritize customer care. They’ll be there to help you with questions or concerns about your system.
Overall, solar kits can save you money. On average, choosing a kit can save you around 50% of the cost of hiring a solar company to take care of everything for you. Check out our post on how much it costs to go off grid with solar to learn more.
How much can I save going off grid with solar?
The initial cost of going off grid with solar can be a bit jarring, but you need to think long term.
Consider this: The average cost of electricity in the United States is about $0.16 per kilowatt-hour, and consumers use an average of 30 kWh of electricity a day. That’s approximately $144 per month or $1,728 per year in energy costs. When you go off grid, those monthly bills disappear.
You can usually pay off the average system’s initial cost in around 10-15 years—even less if you opt for a solar kit. After that, all of the electricity you generate for the rest of your solar power system’s 25- to 30-year lifespan is essentially free.
Of course, these are only averages. The amount you’ll save will depend on your location, typical energy usage, and local kilowatt-hour cost.
Are you ready to go off grid with solar?
There’s no better way to go off grid than with solar power. A solar kit makes the leap even easier. Solar kits are half the price of systems installed through a solar company, are easy to install, and can generate all the energy you need.
If you’re ready to go off grid, the experts at ShopSolarKits can help. Our mission is to make solar power simple and affordable, and we have kits available to meet any need.
Not sure where to start?
Check out our definitive off grid solar power 101 guide to learn everything you need to know, then talk to one of our professionals for a custom quote on the kit that best fits your needs. Get ready to cut ties with the electrical grid and become an expert in off grid solar power today.