So you want to go solar… But can’t decide how many panels to get, right? We’re going to teach you a simple little formula to calculate that in seconds.. More on that in a sec.
But first: Your biggest worry will be how many solar panels you need to go off the grid and what the solar panels will cost. This guide from MarketWatch can help break down some of these costs.
In this article, we will answer this question and provide you with more insight into off-grid solar systems.
What Is An “Off-Grid Solar Energy System” Anyway?
To live off the grid completely, you’ll need to create your own electricity since you won’t be on the central power line. Well, you can solve these situations with an off-grid solar energy system. This system acts as a power provider that will help keep your entire electrical appliance running.
The larger electric grid supplies power to most homes and business centers all over the nation. But to go with the off-grid solar system, you will need quite a number of solar panels to generate enough energy to power your home. This is the main reason many stick to the city grid.
Also, in a region where there are lengthy cloudy climates, you will have to get a powerful on-site battery to store power from the sun. This way, you create, store, and use energy when you wish.
Going off the grid with solar systems might be expensive from the beginning, but it will save you more money in the long run.
Can I Go Off The Grid With Solar Panels?
Yes, you can. Solar panels can provide you with sufficient electricity for off-grid living. However, there are essential things to look out for and steps to take before installing a solar panel. These considerations will help you know how many solar panels you need to go off the grid.
- Evaluate the amount of power you consume
- Check the number of batteries you need
What Amount of Power do You Consume?
This question is among the firsts that come up when you want to go off the grid. You should consider this before you start thinking of how many solar panels do I need to go off the grid?
Your energy consumption rate helps you to deduce how many of them you would install and the batteries required to store and supply enough power in your home. It’s quite essential to know your daily power usage or total electric load.
To calculate your daily power consumption, you should adopt any of the two primary methods. The simplest way is to get the electricity used for the month. The consumed power amount is indicated in Kilowatt-hours, kWh.
When you have the monthly rate, divide the total amount by the number of days in the month. Run this method on three and for months and take the average, that’s it.
The next method for evaluating daily power use is by an approach called bottom-up strategy. With this method, you will get the wattage of your appliances and the hours they use.
This above strategy may not give an exact amount, but you can find out from labels attached to some of your devices. Split the number among the 365 days in a year, and the answer is your daily power use.
What Battery Capacity Do I Need?
For you to enjoy sufficient power supply when living off the grid, you need to have solar batteries to store up the power from the sun. These batteries provide electricity even after sunset. But you should know that not every battery has the capacity to power up the entire electrical appliances in your home all day like the central grid.
A sufficient off-grid power supply will require a type of battery that recharges its cells by forming its grid. This way, the slightest energy from the sun can boost the cells.
You also need to know how many batteries are enough to power your home all day. One way to get this is by calculating your daily consumption and then comparing it with the usable energy on the battery.
The usable energy is the number of energy stored in the battery, stated in kWh. This energy is the amount of energy it can release after losing some to charges and battery sustenance.
Once you have gotten the two parameters above, you can easily calculate the number of batteries you will need. That means if your house uses about 40kWh, you need a battery that has at least a 42kWh capacity. The average American uses 30kWh, but you need an efficient one with more power to run your house for a day or more.
Considering these calculations, if you intend to power your appliances for days without a ray of the sun, you should get more batteries. That’s the only way you’ll be comfortable living off the grid-tied electrical system.
How Many 100W Solar Panels Do I Need to Go Off the Grid?
Here comes the answer you have been waiting for. You should base this on the information you have gathered above so you can set up an adequate solar system. In other words, once you know the number of batteries and the power you consume, you can determine the number of solar panels needed.
The off-grid solar system should be big enough to store power that will run for the entire day. You should know that the energy stored from the panel is proportional to the intensity and period of sunlight a day.
Read more: The Pros and Cons of Going Off Grid
According to research done in the US, there are 5-hours of high-intensity sun rays every day on average. And, the amount that hits the panel depends on the angle you place it.
To get the accurate number of panels needed to charge your battery fully every day, you should use this formula. The quantity of energy consumed every day is divided by the hours of the highest sun intensity (which is mostly 5 hours).
That means if your home uses 32kWh a day, you should divide it by 5 hours: 32kWh/5-This gives you 6.4 kWh. Hence, to fully charge a battery of 32kWh capacity needed to power up your home all day, you will need solar panel arrays of 6.4 KWh.
Use that simple equation to figure out how many kW of solar panels you need.
Can I Use Only Solar Panels to Power My Home?
Yes, solar panels can provide enough electricity that will power up your home. It can also do this without depending on another source of energy.
However, it is mainly suitable for rural homes that use a small amount of electric power, especially during the day. If you want to use solar energy for a modern styled building, consider finding the best option for storing the energy. That way, when the sun sets, you can use the power to keep your household electrical appliance running.
Also, before you take this energy option, prepare to make significant changes to your electrical appliances and your usage. You will also have to consider the following factors, particularly if you want to rely entirely on solar power units.
Before you depend on sun energy totally, you should consider the location of your home. For people that stay in Nevada, solar energy comes as one of the best options. The reason is that you can expect sunshine almost every day in this state.
Asides from having a steady supply of natural light, avoid placing the panels in shady areas. The reason is that these shades tend to block sunshine from reaching the system. This blockage could be a result of nearby trees and structures.
If your location has enough sunshine and minimal shade, check if the roofing can carry the number of panels required. So when you are looking for answers on how many solar panels do I need to go off the grid, also consider if the roof is strong enough to carry them.
Amount of Energy Needed
How much energy does your home consume daily? If you turn on an air conditioner or dishwasher, then you spend massive amounts of electricity. Besides, using TVs or computers can also drain your power source.
Also, if you want to go off-grid, reduce your consumption rate. Start by replacing your old electrical appliances with high-efficiency models like your stoves, heaters, air conditioners, and other devices. Ensure to make the changes early enough before getting the solar power unit.
Important Components Needed for an Off-Grid Solar System
The off-grid solar system consists of many things. But the main components you will need include the following:
- Solar modules
- Charge controller(s)
- DC Disconnect Switch
- Backup Generator (Optional)
Now, let’s tell you more about these components mentioned above.
1. Solar Modules
This component, commonly known as solar panels, uses solar energy to create electricity. When sunlight hits them, they produce an electrical charge to power up the batteries for your home use.
2. Battery Banks
This item has several batteries wired to each other to store energy from the sun. Thanks to the battery bank, the off-grid solar system can power up your electronics for hours.
3. Solar Charge Controller
It is commonly called the charge or battery regulator. The name of the device perfectly defines its function. This component controls the current that enters the battery bank, and it prevents overcharging.
If you want the battery bank to last longer, you need to get the best solar charge controller. However, if you are using a battery-based inverter, you don’t need to get a charge controller. The reason is that it features an integrated controller.
4. Off-Grid Inverter
The inverter converts DC to AC, particularly in appliances that run on electricity. Unlike inverters that use the grid, the off-grid models do not need to match phase with the utility sine wave. Instead, it converts the current from the solar panels into DC. But before this process, the current will pass through the controller and battery bank.
5. DC Disconnect Switch
Every solar system should have AC and DC safety disconnects. But for the off-grid system, you will need to get an extra DC disconnect installed between the off-grid inverter and battery bank. The DC Disconnect Switch helps to cut off the current flow between these components, thus preventing damage or fire outbreaks.
Can I Get Solar Panels and Install Them by Myself?
Yes, you can purchase, install, and maintain your off-grid solar system without any assistance. But it will be advisable you seek guidance from an expert. The reason is that setting up solar panels requires more skill than changing a light bulb.
Creating a homemade solar system might look extra hard. But people claim that this DIY project is quite easy. Luckily, anyone can get tips from YouTube videos or online tutorials.
When you fix a solar panel by yourself, you cut costs and learn how to fix things. But to avoid any problems, skip the DIY idea and look for a professional.
So why should you ignore the self-build option and choose an experienced hand? First, poorly installed panels can make you spend excess cash. Besides, there are local laws that you must adhere to before setting it up, and you also need to know the perfect angle to position it. Also, you will need an expert to determine if the roof can hold the weight of the panels.
Some brands provide solar components that have easy-to-use features. For instance, these models might have cables that you connect to a compatible port. Since they come in the same package, finding the dedicated slot for each cable won’t be difficult.
Moreover, every item has labels, thereby making it easy for first-timers. To set up this type of system, you need to know how to carry out the following steps:
- Securing bolts and screws with a screwdriver and wrench
- Carry the item weighing up to 75 pounds. If they feel heavy, get an extra hand from a friend.
- Make holes and add concrete that if you’re constructing ground mounts
- Connect the system to your electrical service panel
- Set up and connect the solar inverter
And that wraps it up!
Your Next Step…
Now you’ve seen how you can use solar to reduce your bills significantly. But here’s the thing. Trial and error, and going at this alone is going to cost you. A lot. Want to avoid that? Then I recommend you get a copy of Smart Solar Box.
It’s easy, quick, and best of all shows you exactly how to create the home solar system you dream of. And make it a reality.