Off Grid Solar Power Systems for Small Homes – The Best Budget-Friendly Options
Every year an increasing number of people are turning to environmentally-friendly solar energy to offset some of the cost of their monthly electricity bills. While some believe that you need to spend a significant amount of money and own a large property to set up a practical solar power system, the truth is there are plenty of affordable solar power products that are appropriate for smaller spaces.
Modern solar power systems have become more affordable and efficient than ever before, which means you can generate a significant amount of clean solar energy, without having to spend a fortune on equipment. This explains why boat owners, RV enthusiasts, and even tent campers are all beginning to invest in small-scale solar power systems.
The declining costs of solar equipment and improving efficiency of that equipment is great news for those that are on a budget and have a limited amount of space to work with. Whether you own a tiny home, a remote cabin, or just a small residential home, there is no reason why you should miss out on the many benefits that come from setting up your own solar power system.
How Can We Help?
To help you understand your options, we are going to explain everything you will need to know about choosing a budget-friendly solar power system for your small home. We will go over some of the components you will need, as well as highlight some of the many benefits of installing an off-grid solar power system.
From there, we will recommend some high-quality products and complete solar kits that will help you harness solar power, without breaking the bank. If you are looking to reduce your monthly electricity bills, end your reliance on the utility companies, or just make your home a more environmentally-friendly space, we can help!
Why Should You Go Solar?
Before we get started, we are going to take a look at some of the reasons why off-grid solar power systems are so beneficial.
- Drastically reduce or fully eliminate your electricity bills – Going completely off-grid will save you a significant amount of money over the lifespan of your solar power system. With a relatively inexpensive investment, you can begin using solar energy to offset some or all of your electricity costs.
- Increase the value of your property – Homes that are equipped with solar power systems tend to have a higher value than those that do not. Not only that, they tend to sell much faster.
- Protect the environment – Embracing solar power is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Rather than contribute to carbon emissions by relying on local utility companies for your electricity needs, you can start turning an endless supply of sunlight into usable electricity.
- Protect yourself from rising energy costs – In the United States, electricity prices have increased by an average of three percent per year. By investing in a solar power system now, you can immediately cut your monthly energy costs and protect yourself against unpredictable increases in energy prices in the future.
What are the Main Components of an Off-Grid Solar Power System?
To build a basic off-grid solar power system, you will essentially need to purchase four main components – solar panels, a charge controller, an inverter, and a solar battery bank.
Solar panels are the most obvious and important component you will need when building an off-grid solar power system. Solar panels are made up of a series of solar cells, which work by absorbing sunlight and converting it into useable DC electricity. The number of solar panels you require will depend on your particular power needs. To get the most out of your solar panels, it is important to position them in a way that that they will receive the optimal amount of sunlight. It is also worth noting that different types and sizes of solar panels will differ in terms of their power and efficiency. The number of panels, their quality, energy rating, and the way they are positioned will determine the amount of electricity they can generate.
If space is limited and you have a smaller property, we recommend taking a looking at folding solar panels. They are a practical solution for those with limited space, as they can easily be folded for storage and tend to weigh less than the more rigid options. In some cases, property owners with limited space will choose foldable solar panels because they can be moved throughout the year to make sure they are positioned in the best possible location for sunlight absorption.
If you value portability, take a look at our collection of Foldable Solar Panels and Solar Suitcases!
The charge controller is the device that will manage the flow of energy from your solar panels to your battery bank. They protect your battery by preventing overcharging and also reduce battery drain issues after the sun has set. There are two main types of charge controller to choose from– PWM charge controllers and MPPT charge controllers. PWM controllers are less advanced and act almost like a switch, which is activated at pre-set parameters to prevent overcharging issues.
MPPT charge controller act like ‘smart’ device that contains an integrated computer system. They are programable and adaptable to changing voltages and currents. This means they measure the voltage of the panels and make sure it matches the battery bank’s voltage limits. This means you can use a higher voltage solar array than the voltage of the battery, which allows you to create a more efficient solar power system. If you are running an off-grid solar power system, you might be better off choosing an MPPT controller, as protecting the health of your battery is of critical importance.
We carry a wide variety of both PWM and MPPT charge controllers, so you will be able to find exactly what you need by browsing our Solar Charge Controller Collection.
Solar panels generate DC power, which means current that flows in one direction. This means that you will likely need a power inverter, especially if you are planning to build an off-grid system and rely on solar power for all of your electricity needs.
The wall outlets you find in a typical home provide alternating current, or AC power, which is why most electronic devices and appliances run on AC power. In simple terms, a solar inverter will convert the DC power your solar panels generate into more practical AC power.
Power inverters are also extremely valuable for those that plan to run a grid-tied system in the future, as they allow you to feed AC power into your local grid for utility credits and rebates. This is really useful once your solar panels have fully charged your battery bank, as it prevents excess electricity from going to waste.
Whether you are building an off-grid or a hybrid solar power system, you will find exactly what you need by taking a look at our Solar Power Inverter Collection.
The final piece you will need for your solar power system in the battery bank. The battery will allow you to store the electricity generated by your solar panels, so you can use it at your convenience and in the event of emergencies, like grid failures.
Again, the particular type and size of battery you will need will depend on your specific power needs. Ideally, you would find a battery that could hold enough electricity to get you through the day. You can always stack multiple batteries, which will allow you to expand the storage capacity of your solar power system.
For owners of smaller homes that are limited on space, we recommend choosing a lithium battery bank, as they tend to take up much less space than the less sophisticated lead acid batteries. They also tend to be around 75% lighter than lead acid batteries, which is helpful for those that plan on moving their battery bank, rather than permanently installing it in one location.
Shop our Solar Battery Collection and choose from some of the best deep cycle batteries on the market today.
Complete Solar Kits
While you can certainly build your own solar power system by purchasing the necessary parts separately, one of the most convenient and cost-effective ways to build your own off-grid solar power system is to purchase a ready-made kit.
We offer a wide variety of solar kits that come with everything you need to get started. Whether you are looking for a compact and portable solar power system for your RV or boat, or you are in the market for a more permanent setup for your home, you will be able to find what you need by browsing through our collection of complete RV, Van, Boat & More DIY Solar Panel Kits
For those with small homes, we recommend the Lion Energy - 400W Beginner Solar Panel Kit. This complete kit comes with a foldable solar panel, a Savanna charge controller, a 400W power inverter, and a lithium battery bank, which is available in your choice of size. You also get solar panel cables and all of the necessary mounting brackets you need to build your first off-grid solar power system. As your power needs grow, you can always upgrade and expand this kit.
For those that are just starting out, we almost always recommend taking a look at Renogy products. Renogy offers high-quality solar components at affordable prices. They are one of the most well-known brands in the solar industry and their products have won numerous awards for efficiency, accessibility, and affordability.
We carry a wide collection of Renogy solar panels, batteries, charge controllers, and power inverters. Whether you are looking to purchase a complete kit, or prefer to assemble your own solar power system one component at a time, we carry all of the Renogy products you need.
Feel free to shop our Complete Collection of Renogy Solar Panels, Inverters, Batteries, and More.
Remember, everybody has to start out somewhere, so you should not feel overwhelmed if you are just getting into solar power. You can always start with a basic kit and upgrade the components as your experience level and electricity needs grow.
As always, if you have more questions about off-grid solar systems for small homes, feel free to reach out to us!