Off Grid Solar
An off grid solar system is an alternative means of getting solar energy to people who are either unable or unwilling to be on the conventional power grid. Off grid solar is perfect for application in rural settings where houses may be a long way from the main electricity thoroughfares. Off grid solar can also be used to power sheds, caravans, boats or “weekenders”, any situation where power is needed and connection to the electricity grid is not viable, off grid solar can provide a solution.
Off grid solar has come a long way in recent times, and with advances in modern technology, off grid solar systems have become a viable solution for many people’s solar needs. Rebates from governments and incentive programs have helped bring off grid solar systems into the realm of possibility for everyday people and families.
Off grid solar systems can be simplified down to a few main components. Solar panels, regulators/charge controllers, batteries and inverters. There is more to off grid solar systems than just this of course, but in its essence, this is what we can break down off grid solar systems into.
The solar panels used in off grid solar systems are usually poly-crystalline cells which perform marginally better in low light conditions than mono-crystalline cells. This means that if the off grid solar system is in an area with low light , the off grid solar system will still perform well and provide enough power for those using it. From the panels, electricity is passed into a regulator or solar charge controller. The size of this controller will be determined by the size and needs of the rest of the off grid solar system. The controller’s job is to correctly charge and discharge the batteries within an off grid solar system, protecting the batteries by making sure that they are neither over charged or overly discharged.
Off grid solar systems generate power from the sun the same as a grid connected system but where off grid solar differs is that it stores the power generated in a battery bank so that it can be used later. Battery bank size in off grid solar systems are also determined by how much demand is on the system and what people are wanting to run off their off grid solar system. AGM deep cycle batteries and GEL deep cycle batteries are ideally suited to off grid solar applications. Most appliances in Australia run at 240v and so in most off grid solar systems an inverter will be used to get the 12v power from the batteries up to a usable level. The size of the inverter is determined by the draw on the off grid solar system with smaller inverters (300w) used for applications like caravans and large inverters used in applications like houses with off grid solar systems (10 kilowatt or more).
Off grid solar is an alternative for people who want the freedom of not having to connect to the power grid in order to get their power. As technology becomes cheaper and more efficient, off grid solar is going to feature more in our everyday lives.