When considering an off grid system to power your new dwelling, you need to assess your daily power consumption to help you with your off grid living. Going ‘off grid’ will also require you, and your family, to become a lot more conscious of your energy usage, as you don’t have the support of the grid.
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When calculating how much power you may use in a new property you must consider 5 important things and how they relate to your systems’ requirements, possibly saving you thousands of dollars in system costs. Energy-intensive appliances are those that heat or cool a space, be it air, water or an element.
The major considerations are:
- Gas or Solar Hot water – An average hot water system for a 3 or 4-person house may easily consume 4 kWh per day alone. Gas or Solar Hot water is a great option to simply and drastically reduce your power consumption, in-return saving you big money. Important to note that in bad weather you may need to boost your solar hot water system and if it has an electric boost you’ll end up using a lot more power at a time when the generated power from your solar panels is drastically reduced.
- Gas Cooking – Electric cooktops and ovens are another big requirements for your Off-Grid system. Although running ovens and elements from your Off-Grid system is definitely achievable you may find going with gas will save you a lot of money.
- Wood fire heating – Electric Bar heaters are massive consumers and when run for long periods don’t fit in well when living Off-Grid. Wood fire heating is an option taken up by many of our customers. A wood fire stove is a great way to heat up your living space
- Efficient appliances – If you are buying a new property, you can take the opportunity to ensure you get the most efficient appliances, thereby reducing your Off-Grid system’s requirements. Energy star ratings are now present on all appliances, along with a yearly kWh usage. This can be used to select the most efficient appliances for your budget. LED lighting is a very efficient option and gives off good light. As numerous lights are usually on for at least a few hours a day, a more efficient light can add up to big savings.
- Change your routines – It’s simple. When the sun is out, use your biggest energy consuming appliances. We call it “Blue Sky Rule”. Do your washing, vacuuming and all other household routines during the day, this way the electricity is in effect supplied directly from your panels and not discharging from your battery storage. For smaller systems, you may want to load-share, which means you stagger the use of your high draw appliances such as toasters, microwaves and kettles etc. This will reduce the requirement for a large Off-Grid inverter which will save you even more money on the system cost. Use common sense and follow the “Blue Sky Rule"
SHOULD I GO OFF-GRID OR GET GRID CONNECTION?
With rising electricity prices and large upfront connection costs, choosing to go Off-Grid for your electricity is increasingly more attractive. When choosing between an Off-Grid system or paying to connect your property to the grid, looking at your systems life cycle will help to understand the total cost of each option over the long term, not just the initial upfront cost.
The biggest mistake people make is purchasing a system that is too small to power their lifestyle. Going Off-Grid with the dream of never paying a power bill again can be extremely attractive. But if you can’t afford to do it properly, you’ll end up wishing you got connected to the main electricity grid.
Before you start your journey towards Off-Grid living, there are a few things to consider:
- Firstly, find out what the cost would be to get a grid connection. As well as the initial connection cost, there is the projected cost of total electricity over the next 10-15 years plus an expected 5% electricity price increase per year
- Get an energy assessment done to find out what kind of Off-Grid system is best suited to your circumstances, expectations and budget. Get in touch with us and we’ll give you a free energy assessment, design a customised Off-Grid system and guide you through the process with our best recommendations
- Find a good balance between value for money and quality. Buying the cheapest system on the market is a calculated risk when it comes to solar systems that are connected to the conventional grid. If your inverter fails, your solar system may not work but at least you will still have an electricity supply in your home.
WHEN YOU ARE OFF-GRID, POOR QUALITY COMPONENT FAILURES CAN LEAVE YOU WITHOUT POWER. IT IS NOT WORTH THE RISK!
- If you want the best value for money, use common business sense. The saying “You get what you pay for” is generally true. Try and future proof your system by being realistic with your projected energy use and balancing this against your budget.
THE MANY REASONS FOR GETTING OFF-GRID POWER
- You are building a new shed or workshop on an existing rural property
- You are looking to build a new home in an area with no grid connection.
- You are looking for the perfect green-field solution for your holiday retreat/weekender without the ongoing commitment and cost of grid connection.
- You have a small remote shed or shack remotely that you need to power
- You are looking for a complete sustainable living option
- The cost of connecting to the grid is higher than installing an independent Off-Grid system.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT WITH OFF-GRID LIVING
- No ongoing power bills
- No connection fees
- Protection from rising power prices
- Independent and sustainable electricity
- The equipment you pay for, you own
- A green and renewable source of electricity
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIVING OFF THE GRID AND LIVING ON THE GRID?
If your system is designed correctly, the difference is very little, as even in bad weather, such as prolonged rainy days,
we can seamlessly automate a generator with an auto start function to ensure your home always has the power you need.
A correctly designed Off-Grid system with 1.5-3 days autonomy, oversized PV Arrays and a back-up generator redundancy, will provide similar or higher grid stability and reliability than the Electrical Distribution Network (the Grid) and its operator can offer.