There are many ways you can live off grid, you could adapt your current premises or you could strike out and purchase a property or get some land. You can then decide what sort of property you want on it and whether to self-build or use tradesmen, building from scratch or going down the kit build route.
You also need to decide how you will adapt to off grid living. Do you want a basic subsistence way of living or would you like to incorporate varying elements of a modern lifestyle. If you go for the latter then issues such as power become more critical especially if you are working from home or running some sort of business. You will need a reliable supply of electricity. We have covered the various sources of electricity in previous articles but thought we would take a bit more of an in depth look at the most popular: solar power.
The basic thing is that you need daylight to provide power and stating the obvious, on a cloudy day your panels will produce less power. This means your location can have a big effect on the number of panels you will need. If you live in a region where you get longer days and the weather is clearer you are on to a winner. You can obviously supplement this by using other sources such as wind power etc.
Ideally what you will need are batteries to store excess electricity that is generated until it is needed. There are obvious things you can do like run washing machines, power tools, ovens etc in the daytime when you can draw direct from the panels.
You will need to sit down and work out your needs then have a chat with some of the solar power companies that will advise what you will need and where to locate it.
You are likely to need about 10kW of power so you could be looking at 15 plus panels and ten to twenty batteries. This does not come cheap; you could be looking at $10000 to $20000. If you have sufficient skills, you could obviously save money by doing your own installation which is ideal if you are self-building. You may also be eligible for grants or rebates depending on the region you are off gridding in, it is always worth asking your local authorities.
So, how does it work. Your solar panels are made up of cells called photovoltaic cells. These panels absorb energy from the sunlight. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow.
The electricity that is produced is a direct current (DC). You now have the choice to store this into batteries to be used as needed. To use this power immediately you will need an AC/DC inverter so the power supply is compatible with all your household devices.
As you can see solar power is a good solution if you live in an area where the conditions are right. It is also pretty much maintenance free with an expected 25 to 30 year lifespan. The average expected lifespan of the batteries is 15 years although their performance may deteriorate over time.
The real down side is initial outlay but then you have to consider that you will be paying no energy bills for the lifespan of the system. In 2021, the average U.S. household spent $122 per month on electricity and that has certainly shot up in the last two years and does not take into account any other energy sources you may use.