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Everything You Need To Know About an Off Grid Solar Panel System

Jessica PirroJuly 8, 20194380

When it comes to solar panels there are a lot of reasons for people to make the switch to a solar powered system, one of which being they can install an of grid solar panel system. There are quite a few people who are interested in a rooftop solar panel installation, who are interested in it because they want to get away from it all, and going off the grid has a specific technical meaning when it’s in regards to your relationship to your utilities and how you get your power. But if you haven’t heard of an off grid solar panel system you may need to know what exactly it means to go off grid.

What Is The Grid?

When using the term “off the grid” it typically refers to living autonomously without relying on a utility for any power. In reference to living off the gird, the most ideal in rural locations where there is a lack of reliable grid access. Off grid homes will always require an alternative power option such as solar energy.

In order to fully grasp what the grid is in-depth, first things first, we will have to discuss what utilities are and what exactly they do. Utilities provide a commodity or a service that is vital to the general public. The utilities are in charge of bringing you power, water, or natural gas. More traditionally, utilities are expected to achieve three goals: production or generation, transmission, and distribution. The grid achieves the transmission and distribution goals, and it’s infrastructure allows power to come from the point of generation into your house. When a blackout occurs, it is typically the grid that has been interrupted. When people start to consider going solar, they are normally interested in achieving as much independence from the grid as possible in order to lower their energy costs and exert control over their own energy usage. When you install an off grid solar panel system, if the grid experiences a blackout, your solar powered system most likely will continue to produce solar energy.

What Kind of Power Will do I get On The Grid? 

When on the grid power is coming from all sources across the grid. How your power is generated is decided by the mix of power sources your utility has already decided to use. There are some states that have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) or also known as Renewable Energy Standards (RES). These are regulations that will dictate the very same percentage of the power that is being produced in the same state must come from sources of renewable energy such as solar wind-powered energy, solar panels, biomass and geothermal. Right now there are twenty-nine states plus Washington D.C. that have an RPS, and eight more states have set some sort of sources of renewable energy goal.

When Something Is “Off The Grid” What Does That Mean? 

If a building has an off grid solar panel system, it means that it doesn’t have any connection or relationship with a utility. This means that all of your power is coming from sources of renewable energy that generate solar energy by themselves. An example, if your house was powered solely from a small private coal power plant of a tiny nuclear reactor that only you were receiving power from you would be considered off the grid. This is because you wouldn’t be receiving any power from outside sources, but instead, you are generating everything that you would need by yourself.

If I Get a Solar Panel System Does That Mean I’m Off The Grid?

Getting a solar panel installation does mean that you’re solar powered system is generating solar power from the solar panels, your solar powered system is still most likely going to be tied to the grid. In fact, most of the residential solar powered systems in the United States are connected to the gird. This will allow you to draw power from the grid when your solar panels can’t produce any solar power, like at night or during a storm. In most states, if you have a solar panel installation, you will use the solar energy that your solar panels produce first and will only draw power from the grid when the production of your solar panels is down. When you produce more solar power than your home needs, it is then fed into the grid and the utility system will then take over and move the solar energy to where it is needed. When this sort of policy is in place to define the relationship between a solar powered systems owner and the utility it is referred to as net metering. During net metering, the utility acts as an unlimited battery backup source for the solar energy produced from solar panels. As more and more people are adding a solar panel installation to their rooftop, they aren’t only thinking about the solar panel installation in relation to their utility but also what is the job of a utility.

What’s The Incentive

There are reasons for someone wanting to get an off grid solar panel system installed on their property. As utilities and regulators try to figure out what their responsibilities will be in the future where more and more power comes from sources of renewable energy, we are seeing an increasing number of utilities that are adding fees for connecting to a solar panel installation to their customers’ monthly utility bill. For some people who are considering adding solar panels to their house, they are taking this into consideration and thinking about getting an off grid solar panel system to avoid these fees. However, when you get an off grid solar panel system the equipment that is needed can account for up to 25 percent of the total final cost of your solar panel installation. Others might want to get an off the grid solar panel system to avoid blackouts if steady electricity isn’t something that you can expect with your utility. Another argument for leaving the grid is to support the free market by avoiding the monopoly of the utility.

What Does it Take to Go Off the Grid When You Get a Solar Panel Installation

Getting an off the grid solar panel system and constantly having electricity can be an expensive proposition. In order for you to get off the electricity grid, you will need to find solar powered systems that come with kits that are specifically designed to go off the grid. Your solar powered system is also going to need a component that will store the extra solar energy that you don’t use when the production is high, such as the times when the sun is out, this way you can use it when your solar panel installation isn’t producing solar energy, such as at night, you can still have access to electricity. In order to have a place to store your solar power, you will need to add some batteries to you off the grid solar panel system. For most homes in America, you will need several batteries in order to store the power that you need.   

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