What is an Off Grid Solar System?
Solar systems are becoming increasingly popular as the world tries to distance itself from burning fossil fuels for power.
While some solar systems are connected to the local utility grid, we want to look deeper into the off-grid systems that are independent of the grid.
Before we can dig deep into how to build an off-grid solar system, we should discuss what exactly such a system is all about.
What is an Off Grid Solar System?
An off-grid solar system means that you are using a self-sufficient energy system.
In other words, all power that you are using is coming from on-site solar panels and potentially a battery unit.
This means that there aren’t any connections from your appliances and lights in your home to the electric grid.
The benefits of off-grid solar systems are that you can avoid power outages, easier installation since the systems are not dependent on the grid, and keeping the environment clean, safe, and green.
The difference between on-grid and off-grid solar systems is simply the connection.
An on-grid system means it’s connected to the utility’s power grid, meaning you’re paying to use their power.
An off-grid system work’s independently and you don’t need to worry about using power from the grid or worry about being connected to it.
Solar Off Grid System
These systems can be used in a variety of applications.
Whether you are wanting to set up LED lights around your home and use the solar system to power them, or you want to keep your AC running on those hot summer days, seek no further.
An off-grid solar system will not only save your wallet but it’s also saving the environment.
Off Grid Solar Power Systems for Homes
In the morning, the solar array in your home should be able to generate enough power to supply your home with energy.
If residents are careful with how they use electricity and what is being powered, this should not be too much of a problem.
You should avoid installing appliances that use too much power or using multiple devices and appliances simultaneously.
In the afternoon when the sun is beaming, the solar panels reach their maximum output. This means that it’d be a good time to operate the more power-hungry appliances like an AC.
Energy usage is often low at this time as people aren’t normally home during the week and might spend their afternoons outside.
The energy that is not being used gets sent to our batteries so that they can charge.
As the afternoon passes, the sun lowers and so too does the power output of the solar panel, and as it reaches the evening, solar panel output drops down to zero.
The evening is also the time when power usage in a household spikes since everyone who’s home tends to use electrical appliances.
This means that lots of power needs to be drawn from the batteries.
Once night falls, the solar cycle is complete, and no solar power will be generated until the sun comes up again.
All the night-time energy needs will be met by the battery system and if your off-grid home solar system is a good one, you should be able to store enough electricity that’ll last you for around 3 days without much sun.
If you’re keeping backup power in reserve, you’re going to need a large battery capacity and a good amount of solar panels.
Off Grid Solar Lighting System
Running lights with an off-grid solar system is not a complicated procedure.
If you have a 200W solar panel, some cables that have a connection from the solar panels to the inverter, the main switch, and charge controllers, your lighting system solar power system be good to go.
The charge controller has positive and negative cables wired to the battery unit.
Since we are wanting to have the lights up and running, we should make use of a circuit breaker or switch.
This has the positive cable from the load hooked up to it, passing into the fuse box.
If you have a 10A fuse system, you can potentially run up to four different circuits each with its switches.
Each positive from the circuit goes to the lights with the negatives being transferred back to the charge controller.
Certain companies are coming out with solar light bulbs that come with mini solar panels.
But setting up a standard off-grid lighting system does not take much technical expertise to get everything going.
Solar-powered lighting systems that happen to be off-grid have many benefits too. For example, you always have light in case of an emergency, little to no electric bills, and much more.
Best Off Grid Solar System
To ensure you have the best off-grid solar system, you need to follow a set of steps and tick some boxes that help you put everything into perspective.
The first is to ensure that you find the right solar panel and make sure that the merchant is trustworthy.
Whether it’s something small like a 100 or 200w flexible solar panel to get you started or moving onto the big boys like the 600W solar panel, you should pick one that best suits your home’s electricity usage.
Simply looking at your electric bill at the end of the month can give you a better understanding of where that power is going and what is using up the most.
As for where you can buy the solar panels, you should choose a place that offers warranties on the panel themselves and also gives you some form of customer support.
ShopSolar.com ensures that both of those boxes are ticked, giving you everything you could ask for, all at an affordable price.
The 2nd step is to consider your financial position and your budget. Solar panels are not cheap and setting up an off-grid solar system can cost you anywhere between $4000 to $15000.
It is better to start small than diving straight into the deep end without having any experience with solar energy before the purchase.
The 3rd step is to acquire your battery inverter, charge controllers, the battery bank itself, and an optional solar generator.
You want to look for a battery inverter that’s sized and designed to power pumps, deep freezers, and AC units.
MPPT solar charge controllers or regulators are the most common beginner ones that are found in small houses and cabins.
This is a good choice if you’re going with a self-managed lithium battery as they are compatible with MPPT.
A solar generator isn’t necessary but it saves you from having to pay for the gas every time you need to fill up your fossil fuel-powered generator.
These parts help you size your solar system by looking at the values you obtain from your daily average energy consumption, peak load, and solar exposure.
The best-off grid solar system is one that has each of the components mentioned above, all working in unison to bring power to your home.
Complete Off Grid Solar Systems
A complete off-grid solar system has all the necessary components to operate, bringing power to those who make use of it.
These components include solar panels, charge controllers, inverters, batteries, and an optional solar generator.
These are the basic off-grid solar system components to ensure that you get a good start on your solar life.
Off Grid Solar System Packages
Fortunately for you, ShopSolar.com has complete off-grid solar system packages available on their website.
These kits contain all the necessities needed to set up your off-grid solar system and end up being more affordable than if you were to buy the components individually.
Let us have a look at the different packages you can buy and what their prices are.
Complete Off Grid Solar System with Batteries
Up first is the complete off-grid solar kit with a 15.8kWH battery, six 200W solar panels that can be connected in an array, and a 6000W split phase inverter.
The solar panels are monocrystalline which are known to be the highest in terms of efficiency, as well as being space efficient with a longer lifespan.
They’re covered in tempered glass so that they can stay protected against harsh weather conditions and debris.
Most off-grid solar packages normally include a 120V inverter when you are wanting to power something like a 240V pump or AC. If you choose this kit, you are getting around 6kw worth of power.
This means you can power a pump and AC simultaneously.
The inverter also has a built-in charger that makes the task of recharging the batteries much easier and contained within the system itself.
Everything else you need in the setup and installation process like the controllers and solar extension cables comes included in the package.
It also has 6 sets of Z-brackets for mounting and bracketing, as well as an inline fuse kit.
What Can it Power?
You get around 600 Ah of usable battery capacity if you choose this off-grid solar system package, which is around 7.2kWh of usable energy.
If you take these values and include the 1,200W solar panel bundle, you’re generating an additional 1.2kW per hour sun hour.
So, if you’re getting a solid 6 sun hours per day, you’re generating almost 7.7kW of usable energy every day.
The batteries charge during the day so that you can use the system when it rains if it's cloudy, or during the night.
The package as a whole works best for large appliances like your pumps, fans, fridges, and AC units.
In terms of location, we would recommend using it in an off-grid home or as an emergency backup unit.
Since this package includes batteries, a good number of solar panels, and a 6000W inverter, the kit is priced at around $7,200.
Not only do they offer financing options, but you also get lifetime support and a 25-year output warranty on the solar panels.
Small Off Grid Solar System
ShopSolar.com has a small, complete off-grid solar kit that comes with a battery bank, 600W worth of solar panels, and a backup system.
This is the most affordable and the smallest off-grid solar system package, but it's also one of the most expendable.
In other words, if you want to add more batteries or solar panels, you can do so with ease.
This package contains a built-in 120V or 240V power output, the choice is yours but the prices differ between the two with the former being cheaper.
It comes with a 4000W pure sine wave inverter, three 200W monocrystalline solar panels on a 25-year warranty, a 60A MPPT Charge Controller, and a variety of fuses, cables, and instructions on how to set everything up.
The solar panels are the highest-grade monocrystalline cells that have an anti-reflective coating to maximize the light being absorbed.
This package doesn’t include any grounding tools or rods so that will be something you have to purchase separately or add to the package as an extra fee.
Getting anywhere between 15 to 18 hours of the battery bank storage will allow us to have a night’s worth of power and then when the sun rises again, the batteries will charge.
What Can it Power?
The high-quality deep cycle batteries equating to around 2.4kWh of energy coupled with the powerful 600W solar panel bundle make for a powerful system.
you are essentially generating around 600 watts of power for every hour that passes.
If we get 6 sun hours in a day, the system will produce 3,600W, being a perfect match for a well-pump backup, small cabins, or a portable off-grid solar system for an RV when you are on the road.
For more specific examples and to put this power output into perspective, you can run a 100W refrigerator for around 24 hours and a 1,000W microwave for around 2 hours.
Of course, if you wish to power more power-hungry appliances such as an AC system, you will need to add more batteries or solar panels.
However, this is the perfect option for someone who’s looking to get into off-grid solar systems and not have to pay an arm and leg.
The cost of an off-grid solar system can be expensive at first glance, but once you consider the heavily reduced electricity bill as well as a healthier form of providing electricity, these systems are a good investment.
This small off-grid solar system will cost you around $4300 with lifetime customer support and a 25-year warranty.
Large Off Grid Solar System
Finally, ShopSolar.com has the biggest, and baddest package available on their site with the complete off-grid 13000W solar kit.
This is their most expensive package but it's also one of their best selling as when looked at in the long-term, this package has everything you could ask for and more.
Included in the package are pre-drilled frames and z-brackets that help make mounting the solar panels a breeze.
As always the solar panels are monocrystalline and the batteries are deep cycle.
It is also easily expandable, allowing you to add more batteries and up to 10000W worth of solar panels.
The existing solar panels in the package do a good job of keeping the batteries charged while the sun is out so that they can be used on cloudy or rainy days.
What Can it Power?
This package comes with 12X 200AH AGM batteries meaning that you have 1200AH of usable energy coming from the battery.
To put this into perspective, if you have a fridge that requires 100W of power, you could use that fridge for 144 hours without having to recharge the batteries.
If we use the same 6 sun hour estimation, we could see this package generating around 26Kw of power every day or 774kwH per month.
The batteries themselves should take around 5 hours of sunshine to reach a fully-charged state.
Speaking of the batteries, you have the option through the site to upgrade to a 200AH lithium battery.
This will essentially double the load of the battery, making it more powerful and lasting longer.
Since this is the most powerful package on our list, it's going to be recommended to those who live in bigger homes or seek to take it with on a larger RV system.
This solar package is geared more towards the experts looking to upgrade from an already existing off-grid solar system.
The price of this setup is around $14000 so it's not on the cheaper side, but its immense amount of power and scalability makes for an off-grid system worth having.
Other fees like the installation and maybe additional brackets or mounts will be additional costs and we recommended getting a professional installation team to help set everything up.
There are setup diagrams and instruction manuals for setting everything up, but these components are expensive and you wouldn't want to damage them.
They also have the SolarHub where you can find installers and contractors trusted by ShopSolar.com.
Off-grid solar systems, big or small, allow you to cut down on your electric bill at the end of the month by harnessing the sun’s natural energy.
The price can seem daunting at first, but after a few months pass, you will find yourself saving money instead of having to pay bills.
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