Most of our installations are for clients who want to live in remote locations where the Solar ROI can be immediate. These locations are either not served by the electrical power grid, or poorly served with frequent outages, due to weather or other reasons. Some of these systems are mobile, as in boats and RV’s.
While adding solar to an on grid home is certainly doable, and admirable, it’s an expense not easily justified, as the grid is typically very cheap to install and hookup. However, there is a monthly electric bill, and prices are not known to decrease, or even stay static, but increase over time.
An off grid home is insulated from grid outages, and increasing energy costs. A remote home which would require power to be brought in from long distance can show an immediate Return On Investment (ROI), the the cost of the solar power system is typically less than the installation charge to bring the grid in. Remote property is typically less expensive than property serviced by the grid, offering more opportunities for savings.
An off grid power system typically consists of Solar Panels and/or Wind Turbines, but also may include micro hydro and generator systems. The charging sources fill battery banks with regulated power for 24/7 operation, even when the sun or wind is not in operation. The batteries can power low voltage devices directly, and regular household appliances though AC Inverters.
Conserving power by using energy efficient appliances, and time shifting heavy loads to times of generation, can greatly decrease the total cost of the system by reducing the size of the system needed. This process does not mean reducing services. An off grid home can have the vary same conveniences and services of an on grid home, just done in slightly different ways to meet the power and financial budget of the owner.
Off grid power systems can be professionally installed, or homeowner installed, and may qualify for state and federal rebates and incentives, improving the ROI even further.
For free information on how to design and build your own off grid power system, rain water harvesting, and other off grid tech, see http://essnmag.com/wordpress/essn-downloads/