Off grid solar power systems are often the best option for supplying electricity in remote locations. They may be the only option for you. These off grid systems can work in areas where power from the electrical grid is not available or if it is too expensive for you to have power lines extended to your property.
The ability to store electrical energy generated by your solar panels makes the off grid solar power system a reliable source of energy both day and night, rain or shine. Off grid solar power systems with battery storage are used worldwide to provide electricity for lights, appliances, phones, televisions, and even water pumps for irrigation!
Off grid solar power systems can be set up to run equipment that uses DC or AC electricity. Most homeowners use AC power in their houses and will need to add a device called an inverter between the batteries and the house’s breaker box. This part should be handled by a qualified electrician for safety reasons.
A small amount of power is lost in converting DC electricity from the solar panels to AC. This is a small price to pay because the inverter makes your solar panel generated electricity act like utility power so it can be used for everyday AC appliances, household light fixtures, and even computers.
Off-grid solar power systems start by connecting the solar panels to a simple electrical device called a charge controller. The charge controller keeps the batteries charged properly and helps extend their life by protecting them from being overcharged or completely drained.
Then the charge controller is connected to a bank of batteries. In turn, the batteries are wired to an inverter and then to the breaker box. During the day, the solar panels charge the batteries, and the batteries supply power to the house as needed.
Batteries make off grid solar power systems more versatile, but also require some extra maintenance. The batteries used in off grid solar systems are similar to car batteries, but are built differently to allow more of their stored energy to be used each day. These “deep cycle batteries” are typically used on golf carts, RV’s or on boats.
Like car batteries, deep cycle batteries used for solar power systems pose some risks and require caution in handling and storage. You’ll need to check and top off the fluid in unsealed batteries periodically. You’ll also need to protect them from extremely cold or hot weather.
The amount of electricity that can be used at night or on very cloudy days is limited by the capacity of your battery bank. Adding more batteries increases your costs, so do your planning ahead of time to figure out how much energy you use every month.
A well-designed off grid solar power system should balance cost with convenience and meeting the needs of your lifestyle. The capacity of your solar power system can always be expanded if your needs change, simply by adding more batteries and solar panels to your existing solar power setup.