ust imagine – no more electricity bills and no power outages. This is entirely achievable with a stand alone solar system! Running your home appliances, lights, and electronics completely free from the utility grid is incredibly tempting to many people, for good reason. Particularly those who live in remote areas.
However, it’s important to consider all of the pros and cons when thinking about going off-grid with a stand alone system. Is it as reliable as a traditional grid-tie system? Is the financial investment worth it? And is it physically possible for your home? We’ll answer all of these questions in this article, so let’s dive into it.
What is a stand alone solar system?
A stand alone system, or off-grid solar system, is a system that only utilises electricity generated from solar panels. This means that your home or business doesn’t use any electricity from the utility grid (or any other source). In fact, almost all structures using a stand alone system aren’t connected to the grid at all.
To give you an idea of how it works, here’s a visual comparison between a grid-tie system and a stand alone system:
The system works by generating electricity from solar panels and storing it in solar batteries via a charger controller. The electricity is then converted using an inverter so that it can be used to power your home or business appliances.
The key component of a stand alone solar system is the batteries. It’s not possible to make use of a stand alone solar system without batteries. If you do not have a way to store excess electricity, you will not be able to power your home on cloudy days, or during the night.
Reasons why you may want to go with stand alone solar system
A stand alone solar system is not the type of system you choose to install on a whim. You need to have a good reason as to why you want to go with an off-grid solar system, primarily due to the costs involved.
These reasons might include:
You live in a remote location with no access to the utility grid
Before you opt for an off-grid system, check the costs of adding access to the power grid to your property. If you feel the cost is too expensive (it often is!), then you should consider an off-grid solar system. In some cases, energy providers may charge tens of thousands of dollars to hook up grid access to your home. Avoiding these expenses is ideal.
You have appliances that need to be powered 24/7
Some businesses, such as factories or agricultural facilities, require their appliances to operate around the clock. If you’re at risk of frequent blackouts, they may cause serious problems for your business. And oftentimes, a backup generator just won’t cut it. In this case, an off-grid system or grid-tie system with backup solar power can work really well. That means making use of solar panels and solar batteries to backup your appliances and machinery in the event of an outage.
You want to be fully energy-independent
If you’re just tired of expensive electricity bills, frustrating power failures, or difficulties with your energy provider, a stand alone system might be a good option. With this type of system, you can say goodbye to bills, avoid blackouts, and you won’t have to deal with an electricity provider anymore!
The advantages of a stand alone solar system
As solar technology continues to develop, many homeowners are starting to look at off-grid systems as their sole energy source. Here are some of the benefits of an off-grid system:
Cheaper than running power lines to a remote location
Building a stand alone solar system is often cheaper than running power lines to a remote property. This goes for both residential solar and small commercial solar. For large operations, solar is a feasible option as a backup.
No more electricity bills
Stand alone solar systems can lead to substantial savings on electricity bills. In fact, homeowners who cut their reliance on traditional utility services also eliminate energy bills entirely. While an off-grid system is expensive to first establish, it will eventually pay itself off in comprehensive fashion.
Disadvantages of stand alone solar system
There are also some downsides to installing an off-grid system, that you should be aware of:
It’s much more expensive to build than a grid-tie system
Even with the decline in initial investment over the years, an off-grid solar system is still significantly more expensive than a grid-tie system. This is because an off-grid system requires you to buy batteries, which are necessary to store the power generated by your solar panels.
With a grid-tie system, if you run out of electricity at night, you can draw power straight from the grid. However, batteries are not the only factor that affects the high upfront costs. An off-grid system requires a capable and reliable inverter to ensure the batteries charge and discharge correctly. In total, the two can make up around 50% of the overall cost.
Government incentives and rebates may help offset these costs. However, the initial investment remains a key challenge that poses a significant barrier for many individuals and businesses.
Entirely reliant on weather
The effectiveness of a stand alone solar system is directly linked to weather conditions. Cloudy days or extended periods of inclement weather can reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the solar panels, impacting energy production. This dependency may necessitate larger battery storage capacities or alternative power sources to ensure a continuous energy supply during adverse weather conditions – which also means more expensive upfront costs on your end.
Requires technical expertise
An off-grid system needs more regular checks compared to a grid-tie system. These checks are necessary because if an off-grid system fails, you can’t simply draw from the grid. Individuals without the necessary knowledge may find it challenging to troubleshoot issues and ensure long-term reliability. This technical aspect can be a drawback for those who prefer a plug-and-play solution or lack access to professional installation services.
The decision to go (or not go) off-grid is an important one, and depends on your unique requirements. A stand alone solar system may be a great fit for your home or business… or it may not make sense at all. If you are not sure what type of system you need to choose, Sungain Solar is here to help.
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