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Solar panels is all the rage currently due to its many benefits such as huge savings on electricity bills, buy-back schemes for customers and it being a cleaner form of energy. Nearly everyone who wants to make the switch to solar wonders if it’s possible to make the big leap and disconnect from the grid completely. Not many people know that when it comes to solar, there are two main types: grid-connected and off-grid. This article looks at the latter and everything from off grid solar system price to benefits and how feasible it is to install one.
What are off-grid solar systems?
Off grid solar power systems supply electricity to areas that are not linked to the public electricity grid. They are often known as stand-alone power systems or remote area power systems. They are independent and capable of powering numerous applications with reliable and dependable electricity which is similar to if not better than the normal electricity from the grid. Solar power systems are great because they are clean, reliable, hassle free and their costs have become a lot more affordable over the past few years.
A combination of battery storage and PV is able to make the solar system independent of the main grid. Nevertheless it won’t be a good idea to do so at least from a financial point of view when there is a strong grid connection available. This can be understood by using an average Australian home as an example to look at and understand the costs and processes involved with becoming independent from the main grid.
An average household in Australia uses around 15 kilowatt per hour with a peak load around 1.2 kilowatts. The peak load takes place in the evening around 6 and 8 pm while the peak for solar panel generation takes place around midday. In order to ensure we get the most our solar system, we need to time powering and using our appliances around the same time we get optimum sunlight. But since there are days when it is cloudy or raining or not a lot of sun is seen, this is not always possible to achieve. . Consequently PV and battery storage should be crafted in order to take care of multiple days in the event that there is no generation available the next day. Normally stand-alone systems are planned with 3 days of backup solar energy production.
This scheme ensures that even during dark nights and cold winters, the solar panel system will generate enough power to charge the batteries to make sure there is solar energy backup available for at least 3 days. At the moment, lead acid batteries are the popular choice in the market. This will however change with time. As the current systems use lead acid batteries, the storage capacity has been doubled to allow for a longer lifecycle for the battery units.
Currently an off-grid system would be an expensive buy and would not pay for itself as the batteries would need to be replaced before they have paid for it. The reliability of such a system would be less compared to that of a traditional gird-connected solar system in Australia. The benefits of going for a gird-connected system outweigh those of a stand-alone system. An off-grid system is quite expensive, not extremely reliable and requires a large amount of space in order to operate.
The benefits of connecting to an off-grid system:
• You are able to power your property and appliances independently and away from other energy suppliers.
• This gives you the freedom to combine other renewable energy sources together such as wind and hydropower in order to use your machines.
• You have the freedom to change or expand your solar power system according to your individual needs and requirements.

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