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Should You Go Off Grid?

Let’s face it, most of us have no choice where we get our electricity from. The local electric company is your only option and when a company has no competition, they have no incentive to make you like them.  So customers often look at solar panels and get to thinking… can I go off the grid?

Typically, off grid systems are only installed on homes built where the grid isn’t available. It is not uncommon for an electric company to quote $100,000 or more to bring power to a rural property that is being newly developed. So they want you to pay $100,000 to bring in the lines so that you can pay them ever month for electricity when $100,000 will buy you an absolutely amazing off-grid solar power system. If this is your situation, you should definitely go off grid. 

But if you currently own a house that is connected to the grid, the answer is not that clear. Yes, we know you don’t like the electric company and nothing would make you happier than to divorce yourself from them permanently but let’s look at the options before jumping into that decision.

First, the cost of a solar power system increases dramatically when it changes from grid-tie to off grid. In order to be completely independent from the electric company, you need to have a system that generates the maximum amount of power you may need even in during those months when the days are short and the sun is low in the sky. You also need batteries to store the solar energy produced during the day so you have power to get through the night. Even more batteries if you want to have enough stored energy to get through a rainy day when the solar is producing little to no power. 

Also, you shouldn’t have solar be your only power source. People who live off the grid usually have a diesel or natural gas generator as backup. This is necessary because the amount of batteries needed to run a house through a whole week of cloudy/rainy weather would be ridiculously expensive and take a up too much space. The generator may also be needed to cover your needs when a piece of equipment like an inverter or charge controller needs to be serviced. So you have to add the cost of a generator to your already too expensive solar power system to comfortably disconnect yourself from the electric company.

Example of a gas generator

When you stay connected to the electric company, you can put the solar panels on the roof without needing the batteries. You can size the system based on the amount of energy you use in a year and essentially use the electric company as your battery. You will generate all your power during the day and what you don’t use feeds into the grid and you get credits. At night when your solar isn’t working, you use those credits to buy the power you need. If you produce too much in a sunny month, you save those credits so you can get power from the electric company in a rainy month. 

Another reason people think they should go off grid is because they want power during power outages but this is possible without completely disconnecting from your electric company. You can install a grid-tied system and for a small added expense get the batteries and equipment you need to run some loads during a power outage. The more money you spend, the more things you can run. There is a big cost difference between a simple system that can run some lights versus something that will keep the air conditioner on all day but either one of those will be less expensive than a completely off grid system that can run your whole house every day.   

So whether you are building an off-grid house or you are just sick of paying the electric company, call the experts at to get the system that is right for you.

Author: Harold Tan

I believe clean, renewable energy is key to the evolution of society as a whole. Solar powers our planet, why not harness it to power humanity? Let's power our homes, our work, and our vehicles with solar energy. It begins with raising awareness and encouraging those around us to go green.

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1 Comment

  1. Going off grid is definitely an interesting topic. Thank you for sharing all the possible methods to do so!

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