The ever-increasing scarcity of fossil fuels and understanding of environmental preservation have led to a surge in the popularity of solar energy and other more sustainable energy sources. There are two options for homeowners looking to make the switch to solar: on-grid solar systems and off-grid systems. Off-grid systems, also referred to as stand-alone solar power systems, are designed to provide for nearly all of the homeowner’s power needs.
The Benefits of Going Off-Grid
The many benefits of off-grid solar power go a long way toward outweighing the higher initial investment cost. Off-grid systems are more eco-friendly and renewable, offer genuine independence from power utility companies, and are suitable even for remote areas where traditional power supplies are not available. In order to reap these many benefits, though, homeowners looking to make the switch to solar must first consider how to properly size their systems.
The main factors to consider when sizing an off-grid system are consumption habits and budget. While off-grid systems are generally more expensive than on-grid systems, it is possible to find smaller solar panels and components that are able to fulfill the household’s needs without breaking their budget. Smaller systems do generally require that homeowners reduce their electrical consumption habits to more manageable levels.
Determine Electricity Needs
The first step to take toward sizing a solar system is to determine how much electricity will actually be needed. This can generally be accomplished by simply analyzing the household’s current electricity bill. Simply determine what the household’s typical load is, including how many watts it is comprised of and how long it is used each day. There are load calculators available online for homeowners who are not experienced in electrical math.
Determine Number of Panels
In order to determine how many panels will be required to meet the household’s electrical consumption needs, homeowners must factor in the amperage of each solar panel, the number of sun hours available to the system, and how many bad sun days there are likely to be over the course of the year. It’s important to remember to upsize the system slightly in order to compensate for rainy days and ensure that all electrical appliances receive enough power.
Determine Battery Storage
How much battery storage the system includes is largely a matter of personal preference. While some homeowners feel comfortable with only one or two days of backup power, others prefer larger battery banks.