About Living Off the Grid
Yes, you can have your entire home run on solar alone, and be completely cut off from the grid – it’s called living off-grid. Off-grid solar systems are the closest we can get to a fully solar powered home.
But, you need to go the extra yard to make this happen.
An off-grid home solar system is not connected to the grid and therefore battery storage becomes a necessity in this case. While going for an off-grid home solar system, the solar technician will have to design it in a way so that it produces enough power to meet the home’s requirements. Moreover battery capacities also need to be designed carefully so that it is able to support homes during non-sunshine hours (night time, cloudy days and during winter).
Challenges with Living Off the Grid and Only on Solar
The cost of batteries is what makes off-grid home solar systems a difficult choice for most homes. Off-grid systems are yet not cost competitive with PV systems connected to the grid. But for remotely located homes, off-grid systems seem a viable option, especially if the grid power is highly erratic or is not available at all.
Designing an off-grid home solar system that supplies 100% of power at all times is a challenging task. Here the system has to meet the energy requirements of the home every day of the year. The PV system must be able to charge the battery bank full because once the battery is drained; there isn’t another source for electricity. In order to overcome this constraint, in some off-grid solar instances, a back-up charging source like a generator is also incorporated. The generators ensure that the batteries are charged to the fullest when the sun isn’t available for a prolonged period like during the depths of winter.
Designing an Optimal Off-grid Solar System
Careful analysis of the home’s daily and seasonal needs and it’s comparison with daily and seasonal availability of sun in that area will help prevent energy shortages. If a back-up charging source is not incorporated, the system might tend to be oversized for most of the time of the year except winter. This gives little flexibility to the designer who is trying to optimize cost effectiveness of the system. For this very reason, most of the Off-Grid systems come with generators.