Off grid or stand alone solar is a very different type of solar system.
Many people these days want to "cut" the lead to the grid unfortunately we are not quite there yet financially to do this. Keep in mind that the power grid is the biggest and cheapest "battery" you can get!
However with the technology changing so fast it will not be long until we will be in that era.
Solar for your shack or home (new home) is financially viable if the grid connection point is greater than 400 metres from your building.
Living in "off grid" mode is however a totally different life style.
Going off-grid has different meanings to different people. Some merely think of it as becoming self-sufficient in energy requirements, while other think of totally eliminating their dependency on electricity services and becoming self-sufficient in all areas of life.
A lot of this depends on where a home is located, as it has always been much easier and more acceptable to have an off-grid lifestyle if one is living in a rural environment, rather than an urban one. It is possible to do both and more and more people are going off grid in urban areas successfully.
Going off-grid is a major project which requires planning and preparation. Making the transition to living off-grid isn’t easy for many of us, especially if our home isn’t designed and built for it. While it is possible to convert pretty much any home to an off-grid home, it is much easier for a home that was designed with that in mind.
For most people, the biggest consideration is electrical power. We are a society that is driven by electricity.
Pretty much everything we do requires the use of electricity in one way or another.
While it is possible to forgo electricity and return to the ways of our great-grandparents, most of us don’t really want to do that. While we want to go off-grid, we still want our modern conveniences.
Basically, there are two different attitudes we can have about electricity. Either we can adopt the idea of living without electricity all together and returning to the ways of the 1800s, or we can reduce our electrical consumption, so that we can live off of the electricity that we produce ourselves with our own power generating equipment.
With that in mind, the first thing to do is to design a home that is energy efficient in all ways. The more energy efficient it is, the less energy that we need to create.
So, what are the biggest energy users in the average home?
Heating and cooling
Hot water heating
Television and computers
Electric stove and oven
The first area we might want to look at is the kitchen. Three of our top energy users are in the kitchen; the refrigerator, the stove and the microwave oven. While refrigeration may be difficult to do without, we can easily eliminate the electric stove and microwave, by cooking with gas or wood.
A clothes dryer is an unnecessary luxury, as clothing dries just fine when it is hung out on the line. If you really need one there are options with gas dryers.
The two most common means of producing electricity for an off-grid home are solar and wind. In many instances we recommend using both, unless you are living in an area where one of them won’t work at all. Generally in Tasmania when it is overcast for a number of days the wind will pick up and maintain your charging. Some places don’t have enough wind to operate a wind generator, making it a waste of money to buy one.
DES Electrical Contractors are a local owned company operating for the last 37 years, are Clean Energy Accredited offgrid designers and installers and we were amongst the first Tasmanian companies 20 years ago to design and install offgrid solar in Tasmania.
We design, supply, install and maintain all of our installations around the state.
Under the current design guidelines it is not as easy as saying “I think you will need 8kWh a day”. A lot of theory and work goes into right sizing a system, to ensure you the right amount of power, but don’t pay too much for it. It starts with the end user compiling with our help the items they will think to use each day and how many hours a day. We can help you select different brands of appliances that are more efficient, saving battery size and cost in many cases.
Technology is changing yearly in this area, we will soon see micro off grid systems available (battery per panel), currently installing lithium battery systems and of course the price point favourite is still a sealed lead or gel battery.
We can walk you through what is required to help you design the right sized system, from the start including the right sized roof, angles and battery storage requirements when designing your future home.
Batteries are the hardest thing to get right, we have found in some installations these do not get the expected duty cycle (life.) Upon investigation in every case the clients load has increased dramatically, putting excess load and cycles on the batteries and causing them to fail earlier.
As you can see from the above every system is different and requires personal tailoring, so when you get to that stage, please give us a call or pop in and have chat. We have provided really really rough costing below for a few different sized systems below. We have trouble in doing this as each system varies so much in quantity and quality with off grid, but is a rough guide.
For a stand alone (NOT grid connected) system that gives 4kWh for day approx. $22,000.00 Small maybe one person.
10 kWh per day approx. $37,000.00 Medium Two persons to a family.
18 kWh per day approx. $52,000.00 Medium to Large – Whole family.
Our pricing guide above is the real world pricing, not lowered to get you in the door and then up sell. We offer a complete tailored solution.
The average home grid connected uses 20-30 kWh per day however with proper planning off grid living can be as little as 4kWh per day.
All our system designs have 4-5 days autonomy (battery backup) in case of bad weather.
We have access to several system and brands:
Before we start to design an offgrid system the first thing you need to do is to fill out our load worksheet.
this lists all the appliances that you use or will use and works out how much "power" you will need.
Certain design rules have to be applied like 4-5 days of power should you have bad weather. There are ways around this by means of coupling an Auto start generator for example.
If its done correctly it will work for a very long time
Our first offgrid systems in the state were the Cradle Mt Huts - these have been going for 20 years and only recently we retired the original systems installing a new system on each hut - the original batteries were replaced having operated 18 years (and still ok when we removed them)