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  • Solar Power

    Off-Grid Solar Systems: What You Need to Know

February 2018

Thinking of investing in off-grid solar power? Find out what you need to know

Should you decide to make the switch and go off-grid, Australia’s sunny climate provides plentiful renewable energy that can power your household. It is quite possible for solar panels to generate a large percentage of your home’s energy needs while reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. Read on as we delve into the benefits and pitfalls of producing your own energy.

What does going off-grid mean?

Going off grid means your property will not be connected to the electricity network, so all the power you use will need to be generated on site. You will also need to store some power to use at times when you are using more than you are generating. In most circumstances, customers will generate electricity with solar panels, and store any surplus in batteries. You will also need a backup generator in case something goes wrong with your system, or if there are a number of cloudy days in a row.

If you are building a new property, you have the choice whether to connect to the grid or not. Alternatively, if your property is already connected to the grid, you do have the option of removing your connection, however as discussed below, this is unlikely to be economic.

Why do you want to go off-grid?

Going off-grid is an option if you wish to build a green home that relies solely on clean energy. However, if you live in an urban area and have high usage requirements, it usually does not make financial sense and may not be practical for your needs.

Benefits of going off the grid

If your property is not already connected to the grid, an off-grid energy connection can be more cost-effective and viable in rural areas than a high-priced grid connection.

Off-grid customers do not maintain an electricity connection and bill, so you are not subject to price increases.

You won’t be affected by grid outages.

You are free to choose your own power source.

Challenges with going off the grid

An off-grid system is typically much more expensive than one that is connected. You will be responsible for your own supply and the associated costs. If something goes wrong with your off grid system, you may have limited or no access to power until it is back up and running. If you decide to sell your home in future, potential buyers may have different energy needs. They may be put off by the cost of reconnecting to the grid.

The price of a fully off-grid solar power system can be costly, which is why most experts recommend remaining connected to the grid, and purchasing a solar system to supply the bulk of your energy requirements. Any solar energy you don’t use can be exported to the grid, or stored in a battery.

The final word

Before you decide to go off-grid, it’s important to weigh up your options and consider both the benefits and disadvantages.

One of the main reasons why people choose to go off-grid is to use only renewable energy and to benefit from avoiding high energy bills. If that’s your goal, you don’t need to go off-grid, you can have the best of both worlds by utilising mostly renewable power, while maintaining access to the grid for reliability when the weather is not conducive to generating sufficient power.

If you decide to go off the grid, it is important to select the right system for your household based on your energy needs both today and in the future. You will then need to determine the available unshaded installation space, the amount you’re willing to invest, to ensure an off grid system is practical in your circumstances.

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