Are you thinking of getting an off-grid solar system? These systems have become incredibly popular as of late because they’re both economical and eco-friendly. They’re great alternatives to your traditional electrical systems, and off-grid solar systems operate entirely on solar power.
These systems aren’t connected to any electrical power grid, and instead, they have a high-capacity battery bank that helps store the electricity that’s absorbed by the solar panels. Since they’ve got excellent battery storage, off-grid solar systems can be used as a backup in inclement weather and emergencies. It’s also great for those that live in rural areas and are situated far away from the local electrical grid.
If you’re new to purchasing an off-grid solar system, you might not know where to start. There are plenty of options out there, and a few things you’d need to consider when purchasing your off-grid solar system. To help, we’ve put together a list of 6 of the best off-grid solar systems. We’ve also put together a guide that’ll help you with choosing your off-grid solar system.
What’s in an Off-Grid Solar Power System?
- Battery Inverter/charger or Multi-mode hybrid inverter – these devices manage the flow of energy from the solar panels to the battery and they ensure that the battery is charged correctly without any overcharges occurring.
- Solar inverter (AC) or MPPT Solar charge controllers (DC) – these charge controllers are different from the battery inverters because while they control the battery charge, the input voltage from the solar panels need to be at least 30% over the voltage of the battery.
- Battery bank – the battery bank is where all extra power and energy is stored for use during nighttime hours or for those days that are overcast.
- Solar panels – these panels are installed directly onto the roof of the home or strategically placed around the home to ensure the correct wattage. These little cell-filled squares are joined together to harness the power of the sun.
- Generator (Optional) – it is entirely optional if you want to use a generator when running a solar panel system. These devices provide a secondary sourced of nerdy in the case of a power failure but they do require fuel to run. Typically, they are wired into the existing wiring of the home and they need to be manually started to use.
Off-Grid Battery Choices
- Lead-Acid – the lead-acid battery there are different battery options and can be the more cost-effective option. Necessary maintenance is absolutely required to ensure that this battery is working properly and supplying the home with the right amount of juice to avoid power failure.
- Lithium-Ion – these batteries are more expensive but a lot more convenient as they do not need to be charged to be used and they can easily be stored without ventilation. They require no maintenance at all and are desired for a pre-set number of charging
Benefits of Off-Grid Solar-Systems
The most significant benefit of off-grid solar systems is that you won’t have to worry about power outages. Since you’re not tied to the city’s power source, you won’t have to worry about disruptions caused by inclement weather or damaged power lines and equipment. With off-grid solar systems, it stores solar energy into batteries and is a standalone system and won’t be affected by power outages.
Another great benefit is that it helps with reducing electricity costs. Although you’d be forking out a little more money initially to purchase the off-grid solar system, you’ll be saving money in the long run, thanks to the low monthly rates and maintenance costs. Since your system will also only be relying on sunlight to produce energy, you don’t have to pay any monthly electricity bills, and the only purchase you’d need to factor in is the changing of batteries.
The installation system of off-grid solar systems is also much easier because they don’t have a complex infrastructure. All you need is some tools, and you’re good to go, you won’t have to fork out extra money to pay for a professional and can do it yourself.
If you live in a rural area, off-grid solar systems are also a great choice. Since there’s less advanced infrastructure in those areas, the chances of blackouts are more common. An off-grid solar system can help make your home self-sufficient and more independent from the inconsistency of city power.
Finally, you’re doing your part for the environment with an off-grid solar system. They’re much more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel power and will help reduce the overall carbon footprint.
Pros and Cons of a sollar Off-Grid Solar-Systems
- Cost-friendly. Solar energy is free so that you won’t have a hefty electricity bill, and there’s minimal maintenance required.
- Eco-friendly. These systems rely on solar power, so you’re doing your part for the environment.
- Great options for rural areas. If you live in a rural area and commonly experience blackouts, off-grid solar systems are a great choice as you’re generating your own electricity.
- Great for emergencies. Even if you’re not living in a rural area, you can take comfort knowing that you’ve got backup power in case of an emergency.
- Easy to maintain. Off-grid solar systems are sturdy and don’t require much maintenance, all you need to do is occasionally clean the body and change the battery bank.
- High initial cost. When you first purchase your off-grid solar system, you’ll need to fork out quite a bit of money.
- Bulky. You’ll need quite a bit of space on your roof to install an off-grid solar system.
What to Look for in Off-Grid Solar-Systems
The first thing you’d need to do is calculate the load. You must figure out a total load of your home, as it’ll dictate the overall power and quality of your off-grid solar system. Next, you’ll want to consider the battery that the system uses to store the electricity. There are different types of batteries available, and it depends on the number of appliances you’ll be running and the number of power sources you have. Usually, however, these systems will use lead-acid batteries, and a larger system will require a more significant bank.
Another thing to consider is the solar panel. You’ll want to make sure that you’re getting sufficient solar energy, and that’s determined by the number of hours the sun is shining on your solar panels. There are different types of solar panels available, and the most popular is monocrystalline solar panels. These generate the most electricity, but they can be pricey. For smaller loads, amorphous solar panels are a great choice.
You’ll also want to take a look at the charge controller as it regulates the voltage and current to protect the battery. There are different types of charge controllers, but you’d usually want to look at PWM and MPPT as they’re the most efficient. If your appliances mainly run on AC power, you’d also need an inverter. The inverter you purchase is highly dependent on the devices you use and the voltage of your battery bank, so that’s something you’d need to take a look at.
Aside from all those components mentioned above, you’d also need to balance the system by getting other essential elements such as breaker boxes, wires, fuses and breakers, and more. Finally, you may want to consider getting a backup generator. Just in case you deal with cloudy or rainy days, a backup generator will be there to power your home.
Top 6 Best Off-Grid Solar Systems
This off-grid solar system comes with a regular monocrystalline panel that’s both sleek and durable. It’s meant to provide you with the highest efficiency per area, while the rover charger controller will ensure peak conversion efficiency. Your purchase also comes with a four-stage battery charging process that’s quick and efficient. For complete protection, the set also comes with a junction box.
Those who have purchased this kit mentioned that it’s of high-quality, and they felt that the quality of the components was nearly flawless. Performance-wise, it tends to vary, but individuals have mentioned that they could get 22-24 amps out of the system. Others have also raved about the Bluetooth module that they can use for monitoring performance while dry camping.
- Comes with a four-stage battery charging process
- Comes with a Bluetooth module
- Sleek and durable monocrystalline panel
- Doesn’t come with any installation instructions
Get the full package by purchasing this off-grid solar system. It comes with a 100-watt polycrystalline solar panel along with a charge controller, and all necessary connectors and solar mounting hardware. This solar system will provide at least 1,600-watt hours or 135 amp-hours of charge per day after a full charge.
Those that have purchased it like how it’s durable and able to put out at least 17V to 20V per day in good sunny weather. They’ve also lasted through various weather conditions such as heavy storms and snow. Individuals have mentioned, however, that installation wasn’t easy, but they had some help from the company’s customer service; some have also complained that the inverter doesn’t last long, so you’ll need to spend more money to purchase a new one.
- Comes with all necessary connectors and solar mounting hardware
- Provides at least 1,600-watt hours or 135 amp-hours
- The inverter doesn’t last long
Another great off-grid solar-system, this particular model produces at least 4kwh daily depending on the amount of sunlight. It comes with a combiner box that offers additional protection along with a charging battery and backup power. Setup is easy, and your purchase also comes with a one-year warranty along with 24/7 customer service.
Those who have purchased it mentioned that this product worked fine as listed, but they did add on a couple of items separately, such as line fuses and extra wire. They also felt that the customer service they received was good, and they still get at least 2 to 3 A of charge on cloudy days, and at least 7 to 9 A on sunny days.
- Produces at least 4kwh daily
- Comes with a combiner box
- Easy setup
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- Some have had issues not getting the battery to charge
Upon your purchase of this specific kit, you’ll get two pieces of 100-watt solar panel that’ll provide an average of 0.8wkh per day with just four hours of sunlight. The charge controller also comes with an LCD screen to take a look at the system’s current charging state, battery voltage, capacity, temperature, and more.
Installation is simple as this kit comes with a plug and play designed along with pre-drilled holes at the back of the panel for quick mounting. The kit comes with a 1000W inverter, a charge controller, the two panels, and a pair of 16.4ft cables. It’s made of corrosion-resistant aluminum that’s great for outdoor use and can withstand high winds and snow. It’s also waterproof, and since the panels are made of monocrystalline cells, it’s reliable and long-lasting.
- Charge controller comes with LCD screen
- Simple installation
- Made of corrosion-resistant aluminum
- Some customers had issues getting ahold of customer service
Another great off-grid solar-system kit, this particular one comes with a five-year solar panel warranty, 25-year power output warranty, and a one-year warranty on all other included parts. With its excellent warranty policy, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re covered if anything happens to your system. The charge controller also comes with an LCD screen, and the solar panels will provide at least 150 amp-hours of charge per day.
Those that have purchased it mentioned that it’s outstanding, and there’s everything you need for easy installation. They also liked how all of the manuals and directions were available online, and links were also given to print out what’s required. With the instructions on hand, most were able to get it all pieced together in one afternoon.
- Comes with an excellent warranty policy
- Simple installation
- Can be installed in one afternoon
- Some have had issues with the return policy
For this kit, you’ll get an electricity output of about 2.5kwh per day. The solar panel is made with corrosion-resistant aluminum that’s great for outdoor use and meant to withstand all sorts of weather conditions. The lightweight aluminum frame is also reinforced for safety and comes with an anti-reflection coated glass.
Upon purchase of this kit, you’ll also get a one-year product warranty in case you run into any issues. Those who have purchased it mentioned it’s a great kit, but you’d need to buy your own wiring as there are not enough cables to wire in parallel. There also weren’t any instructions with their purchase, so you’d need to figure out the installation on your own.
- Produces about 2.5wkh per day
- Solar panel made with corrosion-resistant aluminum
- Comes with a lightweight frame
- You’ll have to purchase extra wiring
How much does an off-grid solar system cost?
When it comes to putting in an off-grid solar system, you need to be prepared to cover a fairly substantial cost. It’s the type of system that is expensive during installation (changing over the panel box, changing the wiring of your current residence, etc.) but in the long run? Installing an off-grid power system will pay off in a major way when you no longer have monthly utility bills that are subjected to rate hikes.
A smaller off-grid solar system that has enough wattage to run smaller appliances and other small duties, such as charging phones, will cost approximately $20,000.00 at time of publishing. If you are looking to go completely off-grid and remove other sources of electricity; then you are looking at spending approximately $50,000.00 – $70,000.00 for installation and start-up.
It is important to remember as well that when you install an off-grid solar system, the costs doesn’t stop once installation is complete. There are on-going maintenance costs for the upkeep of the generator, fuel costs to run the system, and maintenance costs on the battery’s and wires. This can become pricy if you are running only an off-grid system but it truly depends on the rationale for leaving the local utility company. If you are looking to live a more alternative and greener lifestyle? Then an off-grid system powered by the sun and backed up with fuel is definitely a great start.
How big of a solar system do I need to go off-grid?
The first thing to consider when wondering how big of a solar system you need to run a house off-grid is whether or not you plan to use another alternative source of energy to power the home. If you are going to be using off-grid solar energy for smaller needs, then you won’t have to invest in such a big system. If you plan to completely remove all other sources of energy? Then you want to invest in at least 20-25 solar panels for the average home.
Available online through numerous forums, however, are solar system calculators to determine the size of the system that is required to power your current residence!
What is the best off-grid solar system?
It is definitely hard to narrow down the best off-grid solar systems because there are so many options to choose from. Before making any final decisions on a particular system, it is always recommended that you complete research on different styles of off-grid solar systems. Determine the size of the solar system required, choose a company that has a solid reputation with both installation and customer service, and ensure that your current climate will be able to harness enough energy to power the chosen system.
How much solar power is needed for an off-grid cabin?
If you are planning to use a solar system for an off-grid cabin, you definitely won’t have to install the same size system as you would for an average-sized home. Cabins tend to be on the smaller size with a lower number of electronics to power on a consistent basis. Also, if you have alternative heating sources (for example, a wood stove), then you won’t need to install a system that can run electric heat comfortably.
Determine if you plan to use only solar panels or you will use battery backup storage power to run the electronics of the cabin. However, typically a small to average size cabin will require at least three moderated-size solar panels to run electronics comfortably but remember! You can only use solar panels during the daylight hours so a backup system is imperative.
The Bottom Line
If you’re living off the grid or want to use clean, renewable energy, off-grid solar-systems are a great choice. We hope that you were able to find an off-grid solar-system that you liked from the options above. With these systems, it’s essential to have an idea of what you’re looking for beforehand to narrow down your choices.