What is an off-grid solar system? Can it work for everyone? And most importantly what equipment does it involve?
As the name suggests, off-grid solar systems are not reliant on the main grid for energy supply.
The system generates electricity using the energy from the sun and stores it in the battery to be used in homes or vehicles.
Also known as Stand Alone Power System (SAPS), it is a greener and cheaper alternative to electricity acquired by the national grid.
The system requires sunlight to produce electricity where the excess electricity is stored in the battery and is used when there is no sunlight.
The system is so far successful in small houses, caravans, sheds, holiday homes, garages and offices.
It is also a great alternative to main grid electricity in areas that experience frequent power outages.
Off Grid Solar Systems Key Points:
- Off-grid solar systems use solar panels and batteries to provide self-sufficient energy.
- They can be used in remote areas or to reduce reliance on the grid.
- Design factors include energy needs, solar array size, and location’s climate.
- Off-grid solar systems can be expensive but can save money in the long run.
- Maintenance is important for effectiveness and efficiency.
- Other components include charge controllers, inverters, and backup generators.
- Other renewable energy options include grid-tied solar systems, wind turbines, and hydroelectric generators.
- Choose the option that suits your needs and budget.
Can you go entirely off-grid with solar in the UK?
Realistically, no you can’t meet 100% of your energy demands for the entire year with solar in the UK.
Two main reasons – firstly solar panels only generate energy in sunlight hours, so in the evenings and during the night there is no energy being generated by them.
You can potentially alleviate this problem by using solar battery storage that will allow you to store solar energy for use in the evenings.
Even so, during the UK winter, there is likely going to be times when there isn’t going to be enough sun exposure to fully charge your solar battery, so you will need a back-up system such as a traditional power generator or wind turbine.
However, with that said, off-grid solar systems are still very useful for temporary or short-term use, especially if you intend on using them during the sunnier periods of the year e.g. for camping.
How big should an off-grid solar system be?
The size of your solar system depends on your daily energy requirement, the size of your roof and the average number of sun hours.
When choosing your off-grid solar system, you will need to make a simple calculation. For this, divide your daily kWh energy requirement by peak sun hours.
The result you will get is the kW output. Now divide the kW output by your panel’s efficiency to have an idea about the number of solar panels required for your off-grid solar system.
An average UK household consumes 3kWh to 6kWh of energy on a daily basis.
As a rough estimate, you will need 12 solar panels of 250W if you are installing a 3kW solar system.
Similarly, you will be needing 24 solar panels of 250W if you are planning to install a 6kW solar system.
Who should use off-grid solar panels?
The off-grid solar systems are ideal for those living in caravans, camps and small houses. This system is also successful in holiday homes, cabins and small offices.
People living in areas that don’t have access to or have limited access to grid electricity can get a lot of benefits from this system.
For example in rural where the chances of blackouts and power outages are very high.
Benefits of off-grid solar
- Good for the planet: The first and foremost benefit of going off-grid is that it is kind to the environment, unlike grid electricity which uses fossil fuels for production.. Since you are using a 100 per cent renewable form of energy, you are not leaving any carbon footprints.
- Saving: The off-grid solar system uses solar energy to generate power. This means that you are no longer connected to the main grid and don’t have to pay any electricity bills or taxes for good.
- Energy Independence: You become completely independent of all worries associated with the main grid i.e. bills, and taxes. The off-grid solar system gives you complete control of electricity usage.
- Liberty in choosing a place to live: You don’t have to worry about the electricity suppliers while choosing a place to live. The off-grid solar power system gives you the liberty to live whether in a caravan or a hut without the risk of power outages or load shedding.
What equipment is required for off grid solar?
The efficiency of the solar system largely depends on the efficiency of its components which are:
- Solar panels.
- Charge controllers.
- Battery bank.
Typically placed on the rooftop, the solar panels absorb light from the sun and transfer it to charge controllers.
The number of panels you need entirely depends on the amount of energy required for your home or vehicle.
Solar charge controllers
The charge controller delivers power to the inverter and battery.
It also acts like a regulator to ensure not to overcharge the battery and top it off when required.
Solar battery bank
The charge controller transfer energy to the battery bank which stores the excess energy to be used when the sun is not shining i.e. night time or on cloudy days.
Usually, a lead acid battery is used in the system due to its long life and efficiency.
Inverters are responsible for converting the DC (Direct Current) to AC (Alternating Current) power which is then used by the electronic appliances since they can’t function on DC.
Off- Grid solar packages we recommend
Off-grid solar systems are eco-friendly and sustainable options to meet your energy requirement.
It is, however, important to choose the right system for you in order to get the maximum benefit from it.
Although there are many off-grid solar packages available on the market, we have chosen three due to their durability and efficiency.
1. ECO-WORTHY 1000 Watt 1KW Off Grid Solar System
This system is ideal for use in dry camping, boats and recreational vehicles.
It comes with 160W solar panels, cable, solar combiner box, mounting brackets and a charge controller.
So it’s a complete package and you don’t need to buy anything separately.
This system comes with a 25-year output warranty and has been rated to have 95% efficiency.
Moreover, the system is the perfect choice to be used as a backup power supply for homes and offices.
2. WindyNation 400 Watt Solar Panel Kit
This is a great option for RVs as the solar panels in the kit can charge up to 1600 Wh of charge per day.
However, installation of this kit can be challenging for those having less experience in the installation.
3. Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Off Grid Solar Premium Kit
Reliable and efficient, this kit includes 100W off-grid solar panels in a compact design.
It is waterproof and durable, however, its charging may depend on weather conditions.
4. ECO-WORTHY 200 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Easy to install, this panel is the ideal industrial or residential solar panel.
This monocrystalline solar panel works best facing south with at least a pitch of 30 degrees to absorb a sufficient amount of light.
The only downside of these panels is that they are expected to have lower than expected performance during rainy or dark days.
5. Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Off Grid Portable Solar Panel
Known for its portable power system, the Renogy Foldable Solar Panel is efficient and convenient to use.
Although small in size, the system has all features available in any other good brand of regular size.
Ideal for camping trips, the system is easy to install and uninstall.
All you need to make sure is that it can absorb a good amount of sunlight and is fully charged because its efficiency largely depends on charging status.