You might imagine an off grid solar system is only relevant to mountain dwellers and those living in the wilderness, but many homeowners are taking steps to back up their electricity supply. An off grid solar system is also really handy when you go camping with your RV or trailer into a national park, especially nowadays when we all take our tech gear with us camping.
What is an off grid solar system?
An off grid solar system provides you with all the electricity you need for your home, cabin or trailer without having to plug into the national grid. It is the ultimate in living life without reliance on utilities. A complete off grid solar system will include solar panels, a power inverter, batteries, charger controls and connections. You might also want to include a generator as a backup plan, says Sunstore.
Off grid solar systems can be portable for camping, RVs and holiday cabins or fixed to provide a residential home with backup power supply or a completely independent off-grid power supply. What are the components of an off grid solar system?
What components make up an off grid solar system?
We’re looking at what is needed to supply solar to a standard 3 bed home. The essentials are solar panels and brackets, a power inverter, batteries, controllers and monitors, and lastly cables and connections.
A 3 bed home needs around 4.4 kw to go off grid, that’s around 14 solar panels. You might be able to reduce this to around 2.2 kw (6-7 solar panels) if the home is thermally efficient.
The power inverter converts DC current into AC for standard domestic appliances. Only AC currents can be fed back into the grid.
Then you will need between 8-12 batteries to go completely off grid. Just one is required if you want a temporary backup and can access the grid if need be (Energy Sage).
What does an off grid solar system cost?
Our calculations were based on a 3 bed home in Florida. Quotes fell between $25,000 and $37,000 for installation cost but savings of between $41,000 and $47,000 assuming a $165 per month bill, and a payback period of between 10.6 and 14.6 years.
Sunstore estimated in 2019 that a complete off grid system for a 3 bed home in the UK would be between £15,000-£28,000.
What is an on grid solar system?
An on grid solar system is the typical solar power install. The solar panels are connected to the standard utility system. The advantages of an on grid solar system are that it is cheaper to install and excess electricity can be sold back into the grid, offsetting the cost and making payback quicker at around 3-8 years.
Should you choose an on grid or off grid solar system?
Obviously, if you are buying an off grid solar system for your trailer or caravan or a remote cabin, you are going to have to choose off grid. If you live in a residential area and want to save money or reduce your dependency on utility companies, you can choose on grid or off grid.
A complete off grid solar system is going to cost more to install as you will need more batteries to store power. The benefit of an off grid solar system is that you can store any excess power in your batteries and use it when the solar generation is low or offline. When everyone else is suffering from an outage, your home will continue to operate as normal.
Off grid solar system products
Eco-Worthy sell off grid solar system kits with up to 4900 watts and 48v supply. The kits contain 24 x 195w solar panels, lithium ion phosphate battery, all in one inverter & charge controller, a combiner with power protection, cables and mounting brackets. An optional AGM battery bank is an add-on. Shipping is free in the mainland US. Eco-Worthy also has dedicated stores in Canada, the UK and EU.
Sunstore sells off grid solar system kits with up to 3900 watts and 48v supply. The kits contain solar panels, inverter charger, isolator switches, mounting brackets, connectors, fuses, batteries & battery clamps and cables. Choose the battery capacity you require and order online (UK only). You can opt to upgrade the batteries and have it pre-wired leaving you with only the solar panel mounting and connections between panels and battery to do. Sunstore also provides an off grid fitting service in the UK.
Ecoflow makes solar generators and portable solar power stations. Their Delta and Delta Max solar generator and solar panel kits add up to 2016 watt hours. A single unit has 2kWh and that can be expanded to 6kWh to act as a backup for your home power when there is an outage. Delta Max connects up with two 400 watt EcoFlow solar panels and can reach 80% charge in just over an hour. Delta generators are waterproof, so perfect for outdoor life. 2kWh is sufficient to run a stove, air conditioning, fridge, tv, lights and provide the usual charging of mobile devices. Ecoflow’s ‘make the change’ campaign is all about the benefits of reducing use of fossil fuels, making quality products that are made to last and recycling at end of life.
Victron are market leaders for inverters for solar panels. They make a huge range of chargers, charge controllers, battery monitors, inverters and isolators. The 24v Victron Phoenix Inverter available at Sunstore has pure sine wave output and high peak power. Up to 6 24v inverters can be used in parallel to achieve higher output.
Jackery makes portable off grid solar generator kits for campers & RV living or as a backup. They have a 500 watt and 1000 watt kit with 100 w solar panels that are plug in and play. The Jackery Solar Generator 1000 has 100 watts of running power. This will run small kitchen appliances like a mini fridge, tv, lights and of course charge your camera, laptop and phone. A quick 8 hour recharge is perfect while you are out and about during the day. The biggest bonus with the Jackery solar generators is silence which is invaluable when camping out. Jackery is one of the world’s biggest producers of portable power and solar utilities – clean energy for outdoor living.
Off grid solar systems
Off grid solar systems are handy gadgets for either temporary or permanent solutions to electric supply. Whether you are looking for a generator to take with you camping, or want to use your appliances in the RV without having to look for a campsite with electricity hookup, a portable off grid solar kit is useful.
More and more homeowners are looking for ways to back up their electricity supply or use more eco-friendly energy options for their houses, and an off grid solar system is ideal. A completely off grid solution is expensive to install but pays itself back over time in savings on energy. Off grid solar systems are an environmentally friendly way to provide clean energy in your home or in the great outdoors. Wherever and whenever you need it.