Living Off Grid with Solar Power
When it comes to living off grid, one way many seek to accomplish it is with solar power. Today I’m going to cover just how easy it is to go off grid by choosing to build your own solar panel system. With new techniques and kits becoming available it really is simple for anyone who chooses to convert their entire home to solar power and live off grid for good.
Really this is a three step process, so let’s cover each step individually to help you go off grid and build your own solar energy system.
Living off Grid Step 1 – Determine Your Requirements.
Your first step can actually be divided into two separate steps. First, it’s worth taking the time to reduce your energy needs before converting to solar power. This is as simple as looking at what you currently have and replacing things with more energy efficient models.
As an example, a 100 Watt incandescent bulb uses 100 Watts of energy for every hour you have it on. A newer LCD bulb has cleaner light and uses only 4.5 Watts of energy to produce the same amount of light. Simple changes like this will reduce your energy requirements and in turn reduce the cost of your overall system.
If you need help with this step, Canada’s Energuide is an excellent resource to learn about the energy requirements of different items, and comparing them to reduce energy. Also, the implementation guide that comes with Green Power Easy details the steps needed here very well. Find a link to their site at the end of this article.
Once you’ve reduced your energy requirements, you need to take the time to calculate how much energy you use on a daily basis. This is as simple as looking at everything in your home that requires electricity and then calculating the Watt-Hour requirements.
For example if you look at your lightbulbs:
That LCD 4.5Watt Bulb is on for 4 hours a day. It then uses 4.5 x 4 = 18 Watt Hours of Electricity each day.
Your fridge that is rated at 400 Watts (runs about 1/3 of the time) uses 400 x 8 = 3200 Watt hours of electricity every day (or 3.2 kW Hours) .
Continue this with every electrical appliance in your house until you have a complete list of what’s needed.
Living off Grid Step 2 – Build Solar Panels to Suit
Your next step is to build enough solar panels to suit your home’s needs. If you were building 100 Watt panels, then each one is capable of producing about 1.2 kilo Watt Hours of electricity every day. If in step one you determined that you needed 10 kilo Watt hours per day to run your home, you would then need 8 panels to run your home.
In this case, you want to produce more power than you actually use so you should build more. Using the above example I might choose to build 11 panels to ensure I have energy to spare and that I never reduce my battery bank to 0.
Building your own solar panels is surprisingly simple. A DIY guide to alternative energy can teach you everything you need to know.
Living off Grid Step 3 – Assemble Your Solar Power System
The last step to living off grid is to put together your final system. This will entail getting a charge controller (can be built yourself for about ¼ of the cost), setting up a battery bank, and then getting a power inverter and wiring everything into your home.
There are many choices out there to learn how to implement all of the steps we have just discussed. . We suggest the first step is to read some reviews of thetop guides to DIY solar panels. These guides give you a more detailed idea of how to do it and will also give you inexpensive solutions to things like building a battery bank to store energy.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a long term "green" advocate, I'm always looking for new ways to help others in their quest to start reducing their energy consumption. If only a small portion of our population makes a few changes we can see huge results. Reviewing your current consumption is a good step in the right direction. There are many review sites on the net that will help get you started as well.