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Is Off-Grid Solar Worth it?⚡Off-Grid vs. On-Grid Energy

Posted 29 May '23

Unplugged and Independent: Why Off-Grid is becoming more Attractive

In Newcastle and the Hunter, electricity costs are constantly rising with no end in sight. This is enticing home and business owners to find an escape from their bills with solar and battery and going off-grid - completely independent and unplugged.

Off-grid solar refers to a solar power system that is not connected to the electrical grid. It is a stand-alone system that generates and stores electricity using solar panels, batteries, and an inverter using the sun as the main source of energy generation.

Off-grid solar systems are typically used in remote areas where connecting to an electrical grid is not feasible or cost-effective. They are also used in situations where the homeowner wants to be independent of the grid and have a reliable power source in case of power outages.

Why is Off-Grid Attractive to Owners?

As mentioned before the cost of energy prices are continuously increasing with no relief anytime soon. Many are on the search for ways to save on their bill and minimise the impact of bill shock.

Off-grid is seen as a perfect solution to be completely independent of greedy electricity suppliers and take advantage your self-sufficiency.

Off-grid was typically only appealing to farms or properties with constrained electricity supply, but as the technology of solar and battery continues to develop, it is making it more accessible.

Off grid installation ground mount
Off grid installation ground mount battery

The Challenge of the Constrained Grid

Outside the cities and suburbia, today the popularity in high powered appliances such as electric stoves, hot water services, air conditioners, water pumps, and the like have made that grid no longer fit for purpose.
On the property, it results in high-powered appliances switching on the voltage at their meter, then it drops causing effects ranging from irritatingly dim lighting to appliance damage and failure.

What we are witnessing is what is called technically a “constrained grid.”

Now many Newcastle and Hunter based consumers have become prosumers; a term used to describe those consumers who have fitted solar to their roofs and have become producers of some or all their energy needs. The former become the duality of being both consumers and producers. The latter become miniature power stations; supplying their own needs and exporting anything left over.

However, in exporting energy those sites raise the grid voltage and in the middle of the day when solar is strongest the neighbouring homes will see a higher-than-normal grid voltage which is also capable of doing harm to appliances.

The Case for Off-Grid Independence for 2024

The best use-case for an Off-grid solar system would be rural areas of constrained grid to alleviate the issues tied to grid-dependency and strict export limits. Having a self-generating electricity system would allow properties to rely on sustainable, but also reliable energy supply.

Additionally, the cost of transporting electricity in long distances would far outweigh the benefits of receiving electricity. Rural properties could be supplied by off-grid energy instead, and would be more justifiable.

If your property's location is remote and there is a constrained grid with strict export limits, it may be smart to install an off-grid system for energy security, supplementing the grid. Additionally, if your property has no access to grid power then Off-grid is an ideal way to become self-sufficient. A good example is our Cooler classrooms project, where we installed Off-Grid systems to classrooms, completely powered by solar panels and stored in storage systems in remote areas with limited grid exports.

BYD solar battery storage installation newcastle


Why Most Properties Shouldn't go Off-Grid

Maintenance

Because your system is yours and isolated, it will be your responsibility to get fixed and maintain. Unlike the electricity grid where you just receive power, and you pay for it with no other worries, if something goes wrong and your system fails, you won't have any backup energy production (unless you have an energy generator of sorts). Unlike grid-connected solar systems, off-grid systems are not a low maintenance and need constant checks to ensure it is running at full capacity.

Limited Energy Storage

Even with the large systems you can get, you can only store so many kWh in your solar battery. If a series of cloudy days occur, your battery could be quickly depleted leaving you and your property in the dark. Having a generator can allow you to get around this, but they are very expensive, and you would be reliant on fossil fuels.

Expensive Taste

An off-grid solar and battery system are expensive. With grid-connected systems, they on average have a 5-year payback period, but this includes solar feed-in-tariffs and ways to accelerate your systems' costs. With an off-grid system, you will not be able to export back to the grid.

Solar panel panels installation home residential

Conclusion

As off-grid solar and battery solutions emerge, they are not all the most practical solutions to supply your home or business with energy. We recommend off-grid solar and battery if any of the following applies:

  • You don't live near any locations of electricity production
  • You live a far distance away from the nearest grid network connection
  • You suffer from a constrained grid where you want to be self-sufficient (we recommend a grid-connected solar and battery system)

Overall, any solar and battery solution will enhance your electricity production and consumption, but it is really a matter on your scenario that will decide whether an on or off-grid connection will be best suited for your property and usage. We really recommend contacting us if you have further questions, and we can walk you through whether it is the right energy solution.





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