POWER OFF GRID: BENEFITS OF A POWER OFF GRID SYSTEM FOR YOUR HOME
Power off grid systems are generally utilized in remote locations without the benefit of a utility grid. The power off grid system can also be used in an area where furbishing a power line to the local utility grid is prohibitively expensive, or in an area where blackouts and/or brownouts are frequent. With an off grid solar power system, you would be able to provide the energy necessary to light up a cabin, home or business.
Power off grid systems comprehensively alleviate a home’s dependency on utility electrical grids. Usually, the power off grid systems require a higher initial investment than grid-tie systems. The difference is because there is a greater demand on the power off grid system. A grid-tie system usually supplements a home’s energy demands, which reduces the amount of energy required from the utility grid. In contrast, a power off grid system is responsible for providing all power to the household appliances and tools.
When designing a power off grid system, it is best to take a holistic approach and envision the completed project from a “big picture” perspective. This strategy is even necessary when deciding something as simple as the type of light bulbs that will be utilized. Standard incandescent lighting is extremely energy inefficient, and as such, you may want to consider fluorescent or LED lighting instead.
Power off grid systems are usually bigger than most grid-tie systems. For the power off grid system to be fully independent, a system must have a greater array of energy-producing panels, which in turn requires more batteries to store the charge and more equipment to regulate the charge. However, even though the power off grid system requires a bigger initial investment, in the long run, a power off grid system may save you thousands in energy costs.
Here are the main components to a power off grid system:
(1) Solar Array: A Solar Array is a group of solar panels which absorb solar energy and convert this to DC power. The number and type of solar panels will determine how much energy you can produce, as will your geographic location.
(2) PV Combiner Box: The PV Combiner Box usually includes GFCIs which protect your solar power system from equipment damage caused by power surges and short circuits. You can also shut down your solar power system at a moment’s notice, allowing for safe maintenance, repair, and inspection.
(3) Charge Controller: Your batteries will accept all electrical current running from the solar array, but overcharging can ruin them. Charge controllers ensure batteries don't receive current when they're charged to capacity, protecting your investment.
(4) DC Breaker Box: The DC Breaker Box includes a disconnect which will regulate the relationship between the battery bank and the inverter so it can be shut down at a moment's notice to replace, repair, or inspect the batteries safely.
(5) Battery Bank: Batteries store the energy you collect through your array. Power off grid systems must collect enough energy to power your home or business until your batteries can be charged again.
(6) Inverter: Inverters take DC power and convert it to AC power. Most electrical systems (like that found in your home) run off of AC power.
(7) Back-up Generator: A back-up power supply is important to compensate for weather patterns which might otherwise disrupt your array's collection.