At some point, usually when looking at an electricity bill, we have all though how great it would be to disconnect from the electricity network and “go off-grid”.
Off-grid power systems, called Stand Alone Power Systems (SAPS) or Remote Area Power Systems (RAPS) make perfect technical and financial sense if you don’t have the grid available or it needs to be extended to reach your home. Free solar energy replaces costly diesel generated power during the day and a properly sized and good quality battery bank means you don’t have to listen that generator all night.
We have customers on islands, in the rainforest, on the fringes of town and lots of cattle stations. Like home brew, solar panels and batteries have come a long way since your grandad had a go.
If you are relying on a generator to supply all of your power, you’re doing it wrong, and you need to give us a call!
IT’S ALL ABOUT COMPROMISE
The off-grid power system you end up with is going to depend on a range of factors including day versus night energy requirements, peak energy requirements and system quality. Let’s start with the biggie though: cost.
When you operate an off-grid power system it needs to be big enough to support your peak power needs – those hot summer days when you want to run all your air-conditioners flat out. You do have some control over this though. You can manage your electrical loads and have a smaller system, or you install an oversized system so you don’t have to worry about it. Alternatively, you can opt to run your generator at peak load times.
Going big means you don’t have to think about your energy use so much, but big systems cost big bucks. For most people there will be a compromise between system size and cost. This is where it is important to choose an installer who understands system sizing and can work with you to reach the right compromise. In off-grid power systems one size definitely does not fit all!
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US…
Living in town and connected to the grid – can we go off grid? And is it worth it? The answers are yes, of course you can, and, it depends on what you are wanting to achieve.
If you are only trying to save money, leaving the grid is probably not the best option at the moment. (Very) generally speaking the best option currently available is to install a grid connect solar power system that can have batteries added later on. Solar is a proven means of reducing electricity bills and the viability of battery storage is just about there. Look at this as a progression from complete reliance on the grid, to some power being supplied by solar, to more power being supplied by batteries, to going completely off grid as a long term goal.
If you are going off grid for environmental reasons then you will certainly be dramatically reducing your carbon emissions, provided you don’t use your generator too much! Detractors of solar will say that the solar modules and batteries will create further environmental problems as there are no suitable disposal procedures in place and they will all end up in land fill. OK, problem identified, let’s start working on a solution now.
And finally, if you are going off grid to stick to your electricity retailer, you are going to be very happy indeed!
SO, WHAT’S THE TAKE HOME MESSAGE?
It’s pretty simple really – everyone views and uses electricity differently and you need a system, and installer, to suit your particular needs.