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Off Grid Solar PV

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The common Misconception

What it means to go 100% off-grid

A common misconception that people have when thinking of installing a solar photovoltaic system, is that they want to take their building “off-grid”. What they don’t realize is that, in most cases, a grid-connected solution is much more cost-effective and lower in maintenance than an off-grid system.

Let’s unpack the difference between off-grid and grid-connected systems to understand in what cases a truly off-grid system makes sense.

GRID-CONNECTED

With a grid connection, the grid can provide the additional energy that you need during times of little to no solar PV generation (like during a rainy winter or at night).

This doesn’t mean that reducing your reliance on the grid is a bad idea! The sweet spot would be to reduce your reliance on the grid as much as possible while keeping your grid connection as a backup. We call this grid-independence.

The solution is to add as much battery and roof mounted solar PV to your building as your budget, building or local municipal limits will allow. We call this type of system a battery-tied system and it uses a hybrid inverter at its heart.

BATTERY-TIED SYSTEM WITH A HYBRID INVERTER

With a battery-tied system, you benefit from the electricity savings that the solar PV panels provide and the energy security that the batteries provide, while also having the benefit of flexibility and support from the grid when its services are needed. Additionally, the price of a grid-connected solar PV system will be a lot more affordable compared to taking your property off the grid. For more information on battery-tied roof mounted systems visit our battery-tied solar PV page.

OFF GRID

Without a grid connection, the additional energy that you need during times of little to no solar PV generation (like during a rainy winter or at night) has to be provided by another power source (like battery banks or a generator).

Because you have no grid connection, you will need to oversize your solar photovoltaic system to generate enough renewable energy for ALL of your needs. Battery storage capacity will need to be oversized by a substantial amount as well, to ensure you will have enough electricity for extended periods of low solar generation. It is also recommended to have a backup generator for an off-grid system that is primarily powered by renewable energy, because if any issues arise with the solar PV system, you may be left powerless for a while until someone qualified can fix the issue.

All of these elements add up and the price of your off-grid system is looking quite high now, compared to its grid-connected equivalent. More considerations for an off-grid solution include higher maintenance costs and the need for additional space for all of the extra components.

When should I consider going off-grid?

If you are a commercial business, office or residential home owner in an urban area, the chances are that going fully off-grid won’t make sense for you. You can still receive all the benefits of a solar PV system while keeping your grid connection, bringing you savings on your electrical bill, energy security during times of unstable grid power and providing you with some independence from future unpredictable electricity tariff rises.

You should consider going fully off-grid if:

  • You live in a very rural area where there is poor grid infrastructure.
  • Most of your monthly electric bill is paying for your grid connection and not your actual energy usage.
  • You have sufficient space for an off-grid system to be installed.
  • You have a sufficient budget to install an off-grid system.
  • You understand the limitations of the renewable energy system and that living off-grid with solar photovoltaic power will take some lifestyle adjustments in your energy usage patterns.

If you are unsure whether an off-grid solar system would make sense for you, then please contact us (link to page) for further help. Part of our services as a solar company and solar installers are assessing which solution will be best for your unique situation.

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Is this the right solution for you?

Whether you’ve made a final decision or not, please feel free to contact us for further information, advice or to arrange a consultation. 

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