As technology continues to improve, we have access to better ways of creating electricity, which allows us to power our homes from greener energy sources and go off the grid. If you are thinking of transitioning to off-grid electricity or moving to a home that is already set up that way, here is some information to help you get started.
What is Off-Grid Electricity?
Off-grid electricity is generated on your property with systems that you own. The phrase “off the grid” means that you are no longer reliant on a utility to access electricity, and this is ideal for homes in rural areas where grid access may be unreliable.
It can also be expensive to connect to the electricity grid in extremely remote areas, so generating off-grid electricity is often the best option.
There are many different ways to produce off-grid electricity, including the following: solar, wind, geothermal, micro-hydro, and generator power.
Since you get to choose how your off-grid system is set up, you can opt to use multiple energy sources to power your home. Depending on where you live, you may have access to plenty of sunshine for solar power but have limited wind, making wind power ineffective. If you live near flowing water, perhaps you should consider a micro-hydro system.
Solar power is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think about off-grid electricity. Solar panels use sunlight to generate electricity from sunlight and are generally attached to the roof of your home.
Solar panels allow particles of light to knock electrons away from atoms, thus generating a flow of electricity. They are made up of many small units called photovoltaic cells.
Recent technology has allowed manufacturers to develop solar shingles and roof tiles, which is a significant reduction in size. This has made them more affordable and aesthetically pleasing – the shingles can even be integrated into the building design of a new home.
The installation of solar shingles on a 2,500 square foot home will cost between $20,000 to $50,000, depending on the type of photovoltaic cells installed and applicable tax incentives. While this may seem expensive, solar panels can reduce your electric bill by an average of 60% and can fully eliminate the cost if you go fully solar.
To fully power your home with solar power, however, you must live in an area that is exposed to a significant amount of sunlight each day. You also need a way to store energy for use at night or have a backup in case of a rainy day.
Wind power is another option for producing off-grid electricity. As the wind blows, the turbine’s blades will rotate around a rotor. This rotor is connected to a shaft that spins the generator and creates electricity.
to the main shaft, which spins a generator to create electricity. Click NEXT to learn more
Wind turbines can be expensive, and a 10-kilowatt turbine can cost up to $60,000. However, the whole system can have a full return on investment in about 6 years. There may also be significant tax incentives depending on where you live.
They also require a significant amount of land, so you will need at least an acre of property. The size of the wind turbine itself also matters – a 400-watt turbine has a 4 ft wide rotor and will power only a few appliances. A 10,000-watt one, on the other hand, uses a 23ft turbine on a 100-foot-tall tower and can power an entire house.
While wind power can be very effective in getting you off the grid, it is important to understand the wind patterns in your area as it may not be possible to rely solely on a wind turbine to power your home.
Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that uses heat extracted from the earth to create electricity. If your home has a geothermal pump, you can harness this energy 24/7.
During the summertime, the pump uses the earth as a heat sink, and in the winter, it uses the ground as a heat source. It is simple to integrate these systems into your home as part of the HVAC system. They act like an air conditioner or heater, depending on the weather.
A geothermal system can range from $2,000 to $5,000 but can usually save up to $1,000 of electricity or fuel each year. In other words, this off-grid electricity system will usually pay for itself in 5 or 6 years.
Micro-hydro uses the natural flow of water to generate electricity. If you live near a source of running water like a stream or a river, this may be a great option to get off the grid.
The system works by running water from higher to lower places and using a pump, turbine, or waterwheel that will convert the energy into electricity.
A micro-hydropower system is significantly cheaper than other off-grid electricity sources, running between $1,000 to $3,000.
On-site generators are another option for off-grid electricity. While they are not considered renewable, they offer a convenient backup for your other systems.
You can choose from a gas, propane, or diesel generator, and there are even some that run on a combination of fuels. While propane generators are typically quieter, they can be more expensive. Diesel-powered generators are designed to stay in one place and are very durable, while gas generators are easy to transport and are very affordable.
Benefits Off-Grid Electricity
There are many reasons to consider investing in off-grid electricity – you can become self-reliant, have control over what energy sources are used, and can reduce the occurrence of power outages. It is important to remember that when using renewable sources, you are still relying on the elements like the sun and wind, and those may not always be available.
Another thing you must consider is where the energy will be stored. For example, if you use solar panels and it is a rainy day, where will you get your power from? If the utility is storing your power that means you are still tied to the grid – you can either sell them your excess energy or pay to have them store it for you. The other option is to invest in a battery storage system so that you can have energy storage without depending on the utility.