There has been a rapid increase in the number of solar panel installations across Australia as people begin to gain understanding of all the benefits offered by this green energy source. Solar systems in Australia have gained rapid popularity over the last 10 years which has been made possible mainly because of the increased affordability of installing a solar power system. As people begin to realize and experience all the benefits of solar, it comes as no surprise that some people start entertaining the notion of being fully autonomous and going completely off-grid with solar in Australia.
An off-grid solar power system essentially means that you are not connected to the grid at all and are completely free from having to rely on the grid for any of your energy needs. Some of the essential components required in order to go off-grid with solar include a charge controller, a generator, and a battery bank.
Going off-grid requires many more components and is generally not recommended unless you have no other options other than going off-grid. There’s a few reasons why going off the grid might be your only option. For instance, if you live in a rural area in Australia you might have no other option but to go off-grid with solar as typically remote parts of the outback electricity grids do not really exist, forcing you to build your own grid system.
Another reason why you may have no other option but to go off grid with solar is if you’re already connected to the grid, but for some reason you experience blackouts frequently enough to force you to get off the grid. One other instance that can potentially leave no option but to go off grid with solar is if the nearest connection point to the grid from your home is far and the electricity network wants to charge you an excessive amount of money to connect you to it.
Alternatives to going Off Grid
As mentioned earlier, going off grid with solar is never recommended as the first option when you decide to transition to this renewable energy source. You should research and assess all available options before taking the plunge to go solar. One alternative option to going off grid with solar is to install a Hybrid Solar System.
A Hybrid solar system is considered a half-way point of still having access to the grid with the ability to also store excess solar energy within solar batteries therefore giving you the best of both worlds.
The advantage of the hybrid solar system is that you get almost 100% uptime of electricity from the grid when required. By storing solar energy in your own solar batteries, you gain a certain level of autonomy by reducing your dependence on it by at least 70% to 95%.
The only major difference between a hybrid system and a grid-connected one is that it includes a battery-ready inverter and a solar battery that keeps storing all the extra power which is then ready to use when solar production is low. If you’ve already got a regular grid connected solar system installed already, it is still possible for you to connect a solar battery to your system by retrofitting battery storage to an existing solar power system. You just need to make sure that the inverter you have installed is either battery ready or battery compatible.
It is important to note that hybrid solar systems are designed to prioritise solar first, battery second and grid power last. Hence, the batteries are relied upon to keep you going during the night or in theory if you suffer a grid outage. Just remember that in practice this may not always be so, because many hybrid systems don’t come with backup functionality out of the box. You will require additional specialised ‘switching equipment’ which enables you to go off the grid if a blackout occurs.
In conclusion, is going off-grid with solar the right choice for you? Generally speaking, there’s no simple answer to this complex question as the right way to go is completely dependent on your specific needs. As discussed earlier, if you’re living in a remote part of Australia with no access to the grid, or your electricity provider wants to charge extremely high rates to connect to the grid because it’s far from you, then you really have no choice but to go fully off the grid. Hence, whether or not if going off-grid is worth it is not a question to begin with. Such instances leave you no choice but to go off grid with solar.
However, if your access to the grid is laced with frequent blackouts, then a hybrid solar system is the right choice for you because the initial investment is cheaper than fully going off the grid. Also, you get the best of both worlds with reliable access to electricity from your provider with the added peace of mind that comes with a battery for those just-in-case moments.
An important thing to note is that you will need to factor in other issues. An off-grid system requires a lot of more maintenance than a grid connected system, which consequently means more costs and because of technical limitations, you’ll occasionally run out of electricity as you do not have the back up support of the grid.
An on-grid system is therefore more feasible and going off the grid should only be considered if that is the only available option for you. Contact SunMate Solar for an on-grid system today and begin saving big!