For many people, it makes perfect sense to power their home or small business using a small renewable energy system. By this, we mean a standalone one, so it’s not connected to the grid. The main reason for this may be to save money; however, you primarily use less energy too, so it’s great for the environment and great for your wallet.
In remote places, standalone or off grid energy systems are often less expensive than extending to the electricity grid. They have therefore been hugely popular for those living in the countryside or the outback as is the case in Australia. But these systems also are employed by people that live near the grid and need to get independence from the facility provider or to demonstrate a commitment to non-polluting energy sources.
Successful standalone systems generally cash-in a mixture of techniques and technologies to get reliable power, while reducing costs, and reducing inconvenience. A number of these strategies include using fuel or renewable hybrid systems and reducing the quantity of electricity required to satisfy your needs. So you mostly have a smart method to reduce your usage and maximise savings.
In addition to buying photovoltaic panels, a turbine, or a little hydropower system, you’ll also need to invest in some extra equipment (called “balance-of-system”) to condition and safely transmit the electricity to the load which will use it. This equipment can include:
- Charge controller
- Power conditioning equipment
- Safety equipment
- Meters and instrumentation
Obviously, these are very basic and the system can be more complicated, but that’s to give you a guide as to what’s possible with this core equipment.
There are some drawbacks we should point out though, especially concerning off-grid solar systems. For example, though you’ll economise in the long run, there’ll be a higher initial cost — especially if you disconnect fully from the energy company, so you’ll need a source of backup power for “when the sun isn’t shining”. Adding A battery bank and/or generator bumps up your solar costs. Limited solar power Storage — Even with backup power, energy storage is restricted. Given a couple of days of cloudy weather, you’ll run out of stored electricity. Energy Efficiency may be a must — once you live off-grid, you’ve got to take care of your household energy use otherwise you run the danger of not having enough power for your home.
So there you have it, there’s no doubt that pff-the-grid energy is booming right now and it will continue to do so as these systems evolve, but these are some of the key consideration before making such an investment.