Going off grid means to completely absolve yourself of being reliant on the main electricity grid in your area, which is usually the national power grid. If you intend to go off grid, you’re probably thinking about the alternative ways of generating power. Solar panels remain one of the most convenient and versatile options for off-grid households. But what types of households can go off-grid, how many solar panels will they need and what types of batteries are available to those that go off-grid? Read on to find out more.
There are many types of households that can go off-grid. Here are some examples of off-grid households and why they’re able to wholly rely on alternative means of power generation:
Smaller households are able to go off grid as their total energy consumption is lower. This means that their initial investment costs in alternative energy generators are lower, as is the upkeep.
Isolated households often choose to go off-grid as mainstream energy access is unreliable. It’s often more cost-effective to purchase your own energy generators instead and have total control over your access to energy.
Mobile households benefit more from going off-grid as it’s more convenient than having to disconnect and reconnect to the grid every time they move. Instead, they have the simplicity of energy generators that move with them.
Green households are able to go off-grid as they already have a preexisting commitment to living sustainably. This means that they likely have resources, habits and funds that enable them to make the switch to independent energy generation.
The amount of solar panels that you’ll need to live completely off-grid varies depending on a variety of factors. This includes:
The main two factors to consider when calculating the number of solar panels you’ll need for off-grid living are your individual energy requirements and the performance output of your chosen solar panels.
On average, off-grid homes require 7 Kw (7000 Watts) of power to be completely energy-sufficient.
The average size of a 100-watt solar panel is 47 x 21.3 x 1.4 inches, while the size of a 200-watt solar panel is 64 x 26 x 1.4 inches roughly. This means that you would need 70 100-watt panels or 35 200-watt panels. However, keep in mind that this is only an estimate. You’ll need to be more precise in calculating how many panels you’ll need if you want to ensure that you buy sufficient panels to completely cover energy production.
To make calculating how many solar panels you’ll need easier, you can use this calculation:
(Monthly electric usage / monthly peak sun hours) x 1000, / power rating of solar panel
To break this down:
The final figure is how much solar panels you’ll need to be totally off-grid.
Top tip: To find out your area’s monthly peak sun hours, take the daily sunlight hours for that month and multiply it by 30. So for example, Brisbane gets roughly 11 hours of sunlight in April. Multiply 11 by 30 to get 330 monthly peak sun hours.
When you install solar panels to go off-grid, you’ll also need a battery bank. There are four main types of battery used for solar panels. These are:
Lead acid batteries have the advantage of being the cheapest type of solar panel energy storage. They’re also a reliable choice, having been around the longest compared to other battery types. They do require regular maintenance to ensure that the battery isn’t leaking. Also, lead acid batteries need to be charged more often due to a lower depth of discharge (DoD).
Lithium ion batteries are an increasingly popular option for solar panel-fuelled households due to the fact that they require little to no maintenance at all. They can also hold higher amounts of energy due to having a higher DoD. Most lithium ion batteries have a lifespan of 10 years. Something to consider with these batteries is that they’re more expensive.
Nickel cadmium batteries are less widely used than the two previous battery types. They do offer the advantage of being extremely durable, ideal for households such as mobile households that endure all types of rough terrain and temperature. Do be aware that cadmium is a toxic substance so proper maintenance and care is critical to avoid leakage.
Flow batteries are an emerging type of solar panel battery. They’re larger in size than other types of battery due to the fact they house two separate chambers, between which a water-based electrolyte liquid flows. This liquid is fire retardant and offers a 100% DoD. This efficiency in energy storage does mean that they can be expensive, so keep this in mind.
Top tip: If you aren’t sure which type of solar panel battery will be best for your household, seek the advice of a seasoned solar energy expert such as Apollo Solar. We’ll be able to advise you on the best battery for your solar panels based on factors including your budget and maintenance expectations.
If you’re considering going off-grid and want to learn more about the eco-friendly option of solar panels, look no further than Apollo Solar. Our trusted technicians are on hand to provide you with total energy independence by installing complete off-grid solar systems in the Brisbane and Townsville regions.
Contact our team today to learn more about our various off-grid solutions or to learn more about our alternative services, which include solar health checks to guarantee the ongoing health of your off-grid system once installed.