Most people don't think about how much energy they use in a day, or even how it gets to their home or office. With energy often taken for granted, it may seem easier than it appears to go "off the grid". So could you do it?
We asked Ecotech Institute's Dan Fink, an adjunct instructor of solar energy technologies, to answer some of our questions about generating our own power.
What do I need to consider about going "off the grid?"
You will need to be keenly aware of your current energy usage, generation and storage each day. Most of us have no clue – your power provider keeps track and 'rolls over' usage vs. generation on a monthly or yearly basis.
When you're off the grid, you'll need to think about how much energy you've stored to keep the lights on tonight.
What should I consider when designing my own power system?
Designing an off-grid power system boils down to three things:
- What your energy needs are each day;
- What resources can you tap into for solar, hydro, and wind power;
- How much you are willing to change your lifestyle to account for gaps in energy generation.
Energy needs are not always consistent and you'll need to consider that.
The equipment required for moving off grid is very similar to any grid-tied system, but it pays to start by hiring someone who is trained in off-grid power system design. Ecotech Institute alumni know exactly what they're doing!
How much does it cost to go off the grid?
It's certainly a rewarding experience to generate your own energy, but it does cost. In fact, it costs money each month just to own a battery bank to store the captured energy, and batteries have a limited lifespan.
Most households can count on $40-$100 per month just for the privilege of having battery storage when the sun isn't shining.
The upfront financial commitment does depends entirely on how much energy you use each day, how much you need to store, what backup sources you have and how much you are willing to change your habits so that your energy use matches when the sun is out.
The commitment may be high, but the rewards can make it well worth it.