As off-grid solar systems are the focus here at Gridless Gurus, it only makes sense to talk about the best off-grid solar system. In reality, such a system is not one single piece of equipment.
If you want to DIY your own off-grid solar system, there are many parts you will need to purchase separately.
Once you have all the parts you need, you will then have a working off-grid system. It might seem intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, these systems are fairly straightforward.
As such, in this article we will consider all the parts that make up an off-grid solar system. Then we’ll mention a few options to consider for each part of the system.
Very quickly, before we get into the specifics of each part, here are some items you may need:
- Solar panels
- Energy storage
- Mount kit
Now, let’s take a closer look at each one of these components. In doing so, we’ll gain a better understanding why they are necessary (or not).
Needless to say, solar panels are the most important part of your off-grid solar system. Not having this piece would be like having a car with no engine!
This also gets at one of the most underrated benefits of renewable energy–its incredibly versatility. But that is the subject for another article.
Solar panels have improved drastically over the past couple of decades, yet the improvements are only just beginning.
For an idea of just how much things have improved, consider the Acopower 120W Foldable Solar Pane:
As you can see, this panel is primarily meant for travel, but the fact that it’s incredibly efficient shows you don’t have to compromise even while on-the-go.
If you have one of these panels, you can go hiking all day without having to rely on large battery backups for your devices. Or, if you don’t have huge energy needs, you might be able to survive without paying for electricity at all while camping.
Such is the beauty of off-grid solar.
When it comes to rooftop panels, you can’t go wrong with something like the Renology 300 watt panel:
If you want a serious panel that will help you with going off the grid, this panel can definitely get the job done.
Now that we understand the importance of solar panels, let’s consider another critical part of an off-grid solar system.
DC inverters may not get a lot of attention, but they probably should. Without it, you’ll have a bunch of power you can’t use!
Why isn’t solar power usable without an inverter? Because solar panels generate direct current (DC) power, while our electrical grid generates alternating current (AC) power.
Thus, in order to be usable, solar power must be inverted” from DC power to AC power. Our devices and appliances are wired for AC power, so that is the only kind of power they will accept.
To get you started, here are a couple of high-quality inverters:
Both of these inverters have multiple wattages available ranging from 1000W up to 4000W. If you are powering things that use DC power, an inverter isn’t necessary; for most Americans, though, they will be a must.
One thing you don’t want to forget when assembling your off-grid solar system is a charge controller. These nifty little devices do exactly what you think: they control the charge current.
This also means they will protect against both overcharging and over-discharging, making them an important part of the system.
Pricier models will also help diagnose problems with batteries plus other cool features.
Here is a more entry-level model, and then a more advanced one:
Whichever option you choose, just be sure you don’t forget your charge controller!
Energy storage has been the subject of at times heated debate. Some cite lack of storage as a reason renewable isn’t a realistic way to replace “peaker plants.”
But, as with most things in life, it’s more complicated than all-or nothing. And energy storage is becoming more prevalent, therefore helping address this concern.
Hundreds of companies are working on better batteries or even energy storage solutions that don’t rely on batteries at all. Take for example concrete blocks that can be used as a means to store energy.
But for now, batteries are probably the most sensible solution for most of us.
Generally, you will use a lead acid battery in your off-grid solar system. These batteries are a bit cheaper than other parts of the system, but, of course, they won’t last as long due to battery degradation.
Here are a couple of examples:
As far as just how long these batteries will last, you can expect 200-300 charge cycles before they will need to be replaced.
One last thing you will need is a mount kit. As you might expect, the purpose of these is to help secure your solar panels, especially if you live somewhere that is often subject to high winds.
Unlike other items on this list, though, there’s not much to explain. I’m sure you already understand what mount kits are, so I’ll just give you a couple of these as well:
Off-Grid Solar System: Conclusion
And that’s about it! Now you are just about ready to DIY your off-grid system. There might be a bit of a learning curve here, but I think you’ll agree it’s not too bad once you familiarize yourself with all the parts.
Have you started to DIY your own off-grid solar system? If so, let us know in the comments.