In Part 5 of this series, we’ll discuss the kind of system that provides the most energy independence, the off-grid system.
Off-grid – A Definition
Off-grid basically method that the household or building’s electricity is supplied by method other than the grid, either via a solar strength system or some other source of different energy.
elements Of An Off-Grid Solar Electric System
1. Solar Panels
As with all solar strength systems, this is where it all begins, with the solar panels collecting energy from the sun and converting it into usable electricity.
2. Mounting Racks
Once you’ve determined how many solar panels you’re going to need to supply you with all the electricity for your household or business needs, the next step is to decide where to put them and how! That’s where mounting racks come in. Mounting racks allow you to obtain your panels either to the roof (usually) or on the ground (also an option, but dependent on how much obtainable land there is).
3. range DC Disconnect
The range DC disconnect operates in the same way as your household circuit breaker panel, in that it disconnects the solar range in case of an electrical overload.
4. Charge Controller
Since a battery is a required part of an off-grid solar strength system, in the interests of extending the battery’s lifespan, you’ll need a charge controller. It prevents the battery from overcharging and, if equipped with a low-voltage disconnect, over-discharging, both of which can seriously reduce the life of a battery. Take care of your battery, and it’ll take care of you.
5. Battery Bank
A battery bank is a necessity for an off-grid system, since it stores electricity produced by the PV panels for use at night or on cloudy days.
6. System Meter
System meters are like the gauges in your car in that they provide various measurements of your solar electric system’s performance, such as state of battery release, amount of electricity produced by the solar panels, etc. You can function a solar electric system without a system meter, but it would be like driving your car without the gauges – you’d regularly be worrying about which disaster was waiting round the corner.
7. Main DC Disconnect
For off-grid systems, this is a must, since it provides a way to quickly and safely disconnect the inverter from the battery, consequently avoiding electrical fires.
The inverter converts the DC electricity produced by the solar panels into AC electricity to run household appliances and devices. Off-grid inverters are usually stored indoors, near the battery bank, since they aren’t weather-resistant.
9. AC Breaker Panel/Inverter AC Disconnect
This panel contains labeled circuit breakers for all the circuits in a household and prevents circuit overload. Since the inverter provides AC electricity to the house, a breaker needs to be additional to the panel to protect the inverter circuit.
10. Backup Generator
already though these are loud and smelly, you’ll need one to complete your off-grid system in case of extended periods of cloudy or inclement weather. At most, this will only be needed 50-200 hours a year, and it’s a whole lot cheaper than designing a solar strength system to cover worst-case scenarios.
If you’re interested in total energy independence, then this is the kind of system for you. Once your system is installed, you can look forward to a future of virtually free energy with zero environmental cost – good for your wallet and the future of the world.