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  • Melissa Deaver

Can Solar Free You From the Grid?

Living free from the electrical grid was once a dream that only few had accomplished. With the advancements in technology and the decline in prices for renewable energy, however, this dream has become a reality for many people. Solar, and other renewable sources, have transformed how we produce energy. It's now possible to use the sun to power your entire home!

To find out exactly what "the grid" is, you can check out our blog on the topic here.

To go "off grid" is to cut the cord with utility companies and generate and consume your own electricity in a closed loop. Most people who install arrays on their property remain tied to the grid, as this is the most cost-effective way to have solar power on your home. This also provides a greater security net for your home. In the event that your array isn't producing as much as you are consuming, the grid electricity kicks in and you're never without power. Going off grid requires you to cut the ties with the utility, so you would need to plan to produce all the energy you will consume.

There are several companies out there that have pre-built off-grid kits, which are a great starting point if you're looking to complete the installation yourself. These systems come with everything needed - solar panels, charge controllers, batteries, off-grid inverters and power output monitoring systems. If you are looking to hire someone for the installation, MidIowa Power can provide a free estimate on what all parts plus labor would cost.

  • Solar panels are the foundation of any solar system, as they are the component that converts sunlight into electricity!

  • Charge controllers regulate the amount of energy that flows from the panels to the batteries, which protects them from overcharging.

  • Batteries store the energy produced by he panels, and battery chargers ensure these are always fully charged.

  • Off-grid inverters convert DC power (the kind of energy created by solar panels) to AC power (the kind of energy used in homes). The inverter manages the power output from the batteries and regulates the power being used at any given time.

  • Monitoring systems allow you to actively watch what you are producing and what you are consuming.

The first thing you will need to figure out is what size you will need to cover your full usage. This is extremely important, as you won't be able to rely on the grid to cover any over consumption.

In addition to batteries, you may want to also consider investing in a back up generator should there be periods of low sunlight.

Main considerations if you are looking to go off-grid:

  1. Location. Off-grid living is best suited for areas that get ample sunlight, as you will need as much as you can get to power your array properly.

  2. Energy consumption. If you consume a lot of energy, consider looking into more energy efficient appliances and devices before making the switch. Get several months of data collection under your belt before sizing your new array.

  3. Cost. Getting the setup completely off-grid is a considerable investment. Consider starting small and expanding over time if this is a concern.

  4. Lifestyle. The biggest thing to consider when thinking about going off-grid is that it is a lifestyle choice. It requires a more self-sufficient lifestyle that may require you to learn new skills in order to offset your energy usage.

Going solar can absolutely free you from the grid! Becoming energy independent is more possible than ever. It's important to consider all of the factors involved before making a choice for you and your family.

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