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10 Amazing Off Grid Homes that You Can Get Today. Off grid solar house

10 Amazing Off Grid Homes that You Can Get Today. Off grid solar house

    Amazing Off Grid Homes that You Can Get Today

    Most of us know by now that it is possible to go 100% off-the-grid with your home. We also know the many benefits of going off the grid: It’s better for the planet, your utility bills are cheaper or free, and (as disaster preppers know) going off grid frees you from dependency on the vulnerable power grid.

    However, most off-grid homes we see are either rustic (think outdoor latrine) or complicated (think expensive wind turbines and other systems).

    Luckily, there is a powerful off-grid movement going on around the world. Many architectural firms are making modern prefab homes. That means you can order your home and move in almost immediately.

    Are these off grid homes perfect? No. Would it be better to build your own off grid home to your specifications? Probably.

    But these prefab homes show that getting off the grid is easier than you probably thought.

    Want to become more self-sufficient but not sure where to start?

    Check out these articles

    Jamaica Cottage Shop

    This is a cool prefab home company based in Jamaica, Vermont. They specialize in tiny homes, cabins, and storage spaces.

    As for off-grid options, the Solar Cabin is one of the best offerings. It comes with a wood stove, gray water sink system, and other features which allow it to be 100% off-grid. start at 29,800. They also have other 100% off-grid prefab homes.

    Their homes can be delivered to the continental USA and parts of Canada.

    Plant Prefab

    This firm offers a vast selection of prefab homes that are designed to be eco-friendly. They aren’t off-the-grid by default. However, they have a “Zero 6” vision in which they work to get the energy and waste loads of a home down to zero. This makes it easy to turn one of these prefabs into an off grid home. Learn more here.

    Method Homes

    These prefab homes are also targeting the eco-movement, which happens to mean that they are great for those wanting to live off grid. They are prewired for solar and made with super-efficient features. There are options like grey water, off grid septic, and more. Learn more here.

    Ark Shelter

    This prefab cabin can be shipped almost anywhere in the world. Aside from being portable, it includes off grid features like rainwater catchment and a wood stove and is designed to last a lifetime. Learn more here.

    Ferris Off Grid Homes

    Ferris makes prefab custom homes in California. Their off grid home option includes solar and is zero-net. No longer available.

    Green Modern Kits Solar Homes

    If you are on a tight budget and want an off grid cabin, consider Green Modern Kits. Their are around just 30,000. For that price, you can get a Zero-Net home with solar. Learn more here.

    Plant Prefab

    This is a spinoff of Living Homes. The way that it works is that you first choose one of their prefab home designs. Then you work with your architect or one of their design partners to adapt it.

    The original prefab designs aren’t entirely off-grid (the FOCUS is energy efficiency). However, you can adapt them to be off-grid if you wish. You can learn more here.

    Nugget by Modern Tiny Living

    The prefab home company Modern Tiny Living specializes in tiny homes. Their layouts are practical and have cool features like transporting your home as a trailer.

    The Nugget is their only prefab design with a complete off-grid package. It includes a 100-gallon fresh water tank, propane heater, solar system, and energy-efficient building.

    It’s only 12 square feet but includes a kitchen with sink and cabinets, shelves, storage, and a stowaway bed. The price starts at 39,000. Learn more here.

    Backcountry Hut Company

    This Canadian company delivers your home stacked on a pallet (like you’d get IKEA furniture). There is a modular system, so you can adjust the size from 1 module (206 square feet) to 4 modules (845 square feet).

    They deliver to almost all over North America. They’ll even deliver the home with a helicopter if your location is hard to access.

    start at around 77,000 (USD). Learn more here.

    Ecocapsule

    Is the world ready for off grid living in a tiny egg-shaped home? I guess so because the Slovak company that makes Ecocapsule has been a big success.

    The Ecocapsule doesn’t need to be plugged in because it runs entirely off the grid on solar and wind and collects rainwater. It costs 79,000 Euros to buy, plus VAT and shipping/customs fees if you are outside of the EU. Learn more here.

    ZeroHouse

    ZeroHouse is a small, prefabricated off-grid house that can be shipped and put together quickly. Some of the cool off grid features of this home include: Solar panels, a power bank, a Rainwater collection system, and a “Digester” below the home that turns waste into compost, and all off grid features run automatically and are fully customizable.

    Discontinued

    Since the publication of this post, several of these companies and suppliers have gone out of business. We will leave them here as they remain interesting as concepts.

    Hive Modular Prefab Homes

    Hive Modular homes have gotten a lot of attention in architectural magazines because of their unique design. Even though they are compact, the design makes them seem large. The homes are marketed for their eco-friendly materials and process, but you can also get off-grid features as add-ons. These include Geothermal, solar, green roofs, and rainwater collection. This company appears to be out of business – the website is unreachable.

    Cabin Fever Prefab Homes

    The company Cabin Fever makes prefabricated homes and commercial buildings. They offer an Off-the-Grid package with options like a house battery bank, rainwater catchment system, compost toilets, solar panels, solar water heaters, and windmill. The build time is typically just 6-8 weeks to get your off grid home built. Learn more here. This company appears to be out of business – the website is unreachable.

    Minim Homes

    A basic Minim Home is estimated to cost about 70,000. That includes everything for the home, including shipping the container. Aside from being sustainably small, there are off grid options like water, sewer, and electric. This company now appears to be out of business. They are not taking orders, and the website hasn’t been updated recently.

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    Leave a comment

    Hi, Grateful for any information that you can provide regarding sustainable living. We are looking for land to purchase at the moment and then we will obviously be looking at house plans to build. Reply

    My mom left me off the grid property in Cave Junction Oregon! Help! Need to strat the process to build my home there! Thanks Darlene Johnson Reply

    I am currently designing a home that is 100% off-grid, and generates most of its power through a pedal-cranked generator (stationary bike) wired to a bank of NiMH batteries with solar as a backup. The generator would also power a water pump that moves water through pipes to absorb waste heat from the batteries and channels it through the walls to heat the home in winter and through inline water heaters in the summer to keep the house cool. What other ideas can I incorporate into my design? Reply

    GOOD LUCK WITH THE BIKE: TO POWER A LIGHT BULB FOR 1 MN IT’S FINE, FOR EVERYTHING ELSE… OIL GENERATOR MIGHT HELP, NEVER FAILED ME Reply

    Hey Robert – sounds like an awesome set up. Have any readers got any more suggestions for Robert? Reply

    Are there any contractors that are recommended that can provide full services to design and installation of off-grid homes? I think the hardest thing is understanding the full cost and system requirements – is there a firm that helps through the entire process? Many people see these pre-fab homes but are still a little lost on everything it takes to get a rural piece of land without any utilities to their new homestead or cabin retreat. There must be highly rated companies out there that specialize in this…but I can’t seem to find any. Open to recommendations. Thanks! Reply

    Not aware of any specific company but as you say they must be out there. Any readers know of any? Reply

    Can You Go Off-Grid With a Solar Energy System? (2023)

    We discuss benefits, shortcomings and what you’ll need to go off-grid.

    I think I speak for everyone here at EcoWatch when I say I’ve dreamt of living off the grid. Imagine being completely self-sufficient, impact-free and unrestricted by society at large. Even if this thought hasn’t crossed your mind, I imagine going off-grid interests those plagued by high energy costs, or those building their own cabin, shed or other DIY solar project.

    The way we generate and use energy has shifted dramatically over the last decade. With solar panels and battery storage technology advancing as quickly as it has, the discussion around off-grid living has become much more complex. What does living off the grid mean? Can you go off-grid with solar? Is it legal?

    It’s not quite as simple as just flipping your breaker panels off, as there are safety concerns, legal considerations and greedy energy corporations to take into account. Let’s dig in.

    What Does Going Off-Grid Mean?

    In theory, living off-grid means you live independently from public utilities, meeting 100% of your own energy needs on-site. Most commonly, this is achieved using solar energy.

    Public utilities are the companies that supply you with the energy, water, gas or other services you use in your home every day. The public infrastructure supporting these utilities has been in place for hundreds of years, and it encompasses the production, transportation and distribution of energy throughout a region or community. Any adjustments to this infrastructure require permitting and inspections (and often fees) so that the rest of the grid stays stable and safe.

    But now that so many localized renewable energy options like solar installers are available, people are realizing we can decentralize the power grid. This would eliminate a great deal of public costs — both financial and environmental — surrounding energy and infrastructure. In this article, we’ll approach going off the grid from a big-picture perspective, but off-grid living can also mean something more simple, such as independently powering a cabin, shed or vacation home.

    Is it Legal to Live Off-Grid?

    This is where the conversation gets interesting. Public opinion differs on the legality surrounding off-grid living. In most cases, living off the grid as we know it is done in rural areas more out of necessity than choice. Within more densely populated areas, many jurisdictions require their residents to adhere to local building codes and zoning restrictions, both for safety and for public image.

    As a result, you may be legally required to maintain a connection to your city’s power grid or sewer systems. Failure to comply with these local ordinances can result in fines or seizure of land or property.

    Before renewable energy generation became possible for individual homes, there was really no reason to want to be disconnected from your local utilities. But now that homeowners are capable of generating their own electricity, will the legality of off-grid living change?

    Homes with modern solar technologies and solar battery systems are likely to meet all the legal requirements to operate safely and reasonably without connection to outside power sources. With public opinion about outdated utilities beginning to sour, we may start to see modern off-grid living become more widely accepted.

    Even if it is already legal to live off-grid in your state or area, remember you’ll have to file for the proper permits and inspections before you can completely cut the cord. If you’re looking into living off-grid, we advise you to consult your state, city or county to learn about any legal restrictions, permits or fees.

    For the sake of discussion, let’s proceed on the assumption that you are legally allowed to live disconnected from your public utilities and you’ve secured any necessary permits to do so.

    What Do You Need To Live Off-Grid?

    What makes going off-grid unfeasible for some is that their homes weren’t built with self-sufficiency in mind. Meeting all of your energy needs on-site necessitates Smart planning — energy efficiency, an unobstructed south-facing roof, good insulation and more. The needs of living efficiently go far beyond the question “how many solar panels do I need to live off-grid?” (though that’s a valid thing to ask as well).

    Solar Panels

    Let’s say you have a nice south-facing roof that’s perfect for a solar array. Even if you packed that roof to the gills with solar panels, you’d still only be able to use that energy while the sun is shining, and the majority of it would actually go to waste.

    Energy Storage

    This is where backup batteries come into play. The concept is simple: You connect batteries to your home’s solar panels that store the excess energy they generate during the day. This allows you to spread out the usage of the energy your panels generate.

    But how many batteries do you need to be completely self-sufficient? Even with a battery as powerful as the Tesla Powerwall, most averaged-size homes need at least two batteries to reliably store all the energy necessary to keep a home powered off-grid. (For context, Tesla Powerwalls are about 10,000 each.) If your home is on the smaller side or your energy use is low to begin with, you may be able to get by on a smaller battery closer to 5,000.

    Energy Efficiency

    Designing or retrofitting a home to be energy efficient can sometimes save homeowners just as much as installing solar panels. If you’re designing an off-grid project, prioritize energy-efficient lighting and other appliances to minimize the necessary amount of solar panels needed for your property.

    Other Solar Equipment

    In addition to panels, batteries and efficient appliances, homes with solar and storage require wiring, charge controllers, inverters, mounting and safety equipment. Most of these can be provided by any solar company (if you’re hiring someone to install your system), but if you’re set on a DIY solar project, you’ll need to acquire all of the above.

    Pros and Cons of Going Off-Grid With Solar

    Of course, there are a few pros and cons of solar energy to consider when deciding whether to go off the grid.

    • Saving money: With the costs of solar and storage as low as they currently are, most homeowners can save tens of thousands of dollars when they generate their own energy instead of relying on public utilities.
    • Avoiding utility fees: As outdated utilities struggle to make money, many add fees to the bills of customers who install solar on their properties. If you’re not part of the power grid, you can avoid these fees.
    • Lowering your impact: Generating your energy with solar, whether on or off the grid, offsets the harmful effects of generating and distributing conventional electricity.
    • Increasing your independence: Living with solar allows you to take control of your energy use. With energy independence, you can more accurately predict your energy use and energy costs and free yourself from rising utility rates.

    Cons of going off-grid with solar include:

    • You don’t have a backup: To live reliably off-grid, you generally require a system that can provide three to four days’ worth of electricity in case of long stretches of cloudy days, changes in your energy use or extreme weather events. Retaining a connection to the grid can provide some peace of mind that you’ll never be left in the dark when things don’t go as planned.
    • You may pay unnecessary expenses: As mentioned, when living off-grid, you need to ensure your maximum energy use is covered rather than your average energy use. This can make the process more expensive than maintaining a grid-tied system would be.
    • Utilities are always changing: Before saying goodbye to your power company, remember that people can change! Though the changes are coming slower than many may prefer, utilities are shifting toward generating clean energy with a localized approach, which will reduce costs, emissions and power outages in the future.

    Final Thoughts

    Electrical systems around the world are undergoing Rapid changes as we confront the climate crisis and expand our infrastructure. Going off-grid may seem like a satisfying idea, but in reality, it may be too complex for projects larger than a small cabin or shed.

    Sooner than seeing homeowners going fully off-grid, we hope to see more promotion of decentralized energy generation through things like:

    • Partial grid-reliance via solar: The most common solar option, partial-grid reliance keeps you connected to the grid — but you meet most of your energy needs with solar and storage anyway.
    • Community solar initiatives: You can join a community solar project by purchasing a share or by paying a subscription. The electricity production that corresponds to your ownership percentage or subscription level will be measured and subtracted from your power bills each month.
    • Smart grids and microgrids: Large apartment complexes or commercial buildings can operate on their own microgrids, capable of disconnecting from the main local grid during an outage and powering themselves via solar and stored energy.

    The benefits of a decentralized clean energy system are many: reliability, lower costs, more autonomy and decreased emissions. Every home that installs solar lowers the strain on public infrastructure, which in turns lowers bills and promotes stability in the rest of the community.

    So, what’s the moral of the story? Keep things local, and only go off-grid if you have to.

    Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.

    When the utilities left him stranded, a homeowner went off-grid with solar storage

    Many homeowners might have given up and bought a different home when faced with the utility hassle that landowner Derrick Zearley experienced. Instead, he looked to solar storage to avoid interconnection altogether.

    Derrick Zearley’s family resides in an off-grid home in South Carolina that’s powered by solar with backup battery storage. Firefly Solar

    Zearley purchased land located on a boundary of two utility territories in Anderson County, South Carolina — Duke Energy and its energy cooperative Blue Ridge Electric. That led to a back-and-forth between Duke and Blue Ridge to determine whose territory it actually was. When Duke Energy laid claim to the plot, the next step in the process was getting signed petitions from Zearley’s neighbors to give right of way on their properties to run electricity to the site.

    But after distributing the petitions, no neighbors signed. With half a year lost to the utilities and unwilling neighbors, Zearley reached out to Palmetto State Solar (now Firefly Solar), an installer based in Greenville, and pitched the idea of an off-grid solar system to be built for, and alongside, a 5,500-sq.-ft building in an unelectrified remote location in South Carolina.

    “I’m somewhat of a cowboy, so I was interested in the challenge and kind of being able to give the utilities the middle finger after they gave us the run-around,” Zearley said.

    Residing in a remote location like this usually comes with additional energy conservation requirements, such as limiting household electricity usage to when solar panels are receiving the most sunlight. But Zearley didn’t want an off-grid home with energy limitations. He wanted to build a full home with an attached workshop that electrically functioned on his own terms, with power after sunset — not a cabin or a trailer that relied on a few measly kilowatts of solar power.

    Raising a solar-powered barn

    Firefly Solar didn’t have much experience with off-grid projects prior to this one.

    “We get calls from time to time from people who want to go off grid, but for the most part it’s not feasible, primarily from a financial perspective,” said Aaron Davis, owner and president of Firefly Solar. “So, when Derrick called, I went out and visited him and I sort of threw out some rough numbers of what he might expect, and he was willing to get into that, especially because of the difficulties he had with the utility companies.”

    Zearley’s home resides on a 27-acre property, with about six acres being open yard. The building he wanted was a pre-engineered steel structure with a single slope roof in a color that takes inspiration from red barns found in farming communities. Zearley likened it to “barndominiums,” which are similarly wrought structures known for ease of construction through prefabrication and energy efficiency.

    Firefly was willing to do the project and Zearley was willing to put down the money, and the plan was for solar storage technologies to primarily power the site.

    Firefly Solar installed a 19.5-kW solar system atop the home, slightly oversizing it to compensate for the roof angle. Firefly Solar

    amazing, grid, homes, today, solar, house

    “I think it piqued my interest once I learned that he thought the technology was available, but no one’s really done it yet in our area, and so there wasn’t anything really to mimic, to design after,” Zearley said. “It was kind of an interesting challenge, I think, for the both of us to figure out how to do this. Then once we started going down this road, I told the energy companies that we didn’t need them anymore.”

    To take the site off the grid, Firefly Solar installed a 19.5-kW solar storage system made of 60 Panasonic 325-W modules, 60 Enphase IQ 7X microinverters, IronRidge XR100 racking with S-5! ProteaBracket metal roof attachments and four Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries. And just in case solar doesn’t cover it, a 20-kW Kohler gas-powered backup generator was installed too.

    Firefly lucked out, because when Davis reached out to Tesla about the project, the company was just starting an off-grid program. Previously, the warranty language on Tesla storage hardware didn’t cover off-grid applications. Just as the Powerwalls were being installed, Tesla was rewriting operating code to make the hardware work in this application.

    “Derrick approached this with kind of a ‘no compromises’ attitude and what he wanted was basically a home that was off-grid but didn’t seem like it was off-grid,” said Ryan Wagler of Firefly Solar, who was the design project manager on this project. “Typically, with off-grid you’re talking about, ‘All right, we need to limit your usage and we need to install LEDs everywhere.’ With this, we really just went for it and we installed the capacity to handle the everyday usage of a home of this size, and that was new for me.”

    The building’s roof is angled flatter than typical pitched rooftops, but the surface area made it possible to fully conceal the 60 modules from observers at ground level. The panels are mounted flush to the roof and the system is slightly oversized to compensate for the angling, using Panasonic 96-cell modules, hardware that Firefly has used extensively.

    “Amidst all the uncertainty, we felt we needed some products we could trust,” Wagler said.

    Outside of the challenges presented by installing solar with new construction on an off-grid site, Firefly was also working alongside several other trades. Davis said, at one point, there were seven different contractors onsite. Since there was no electricity on the property yet, everyone was running off of gas-powered generators. That is, until the solar was installed, then all the trades could run their equipment without generators.

    Zearley, Firefly Solar and a number of trades managed to build a home from the ground up that operates entirely off the power grid. Firefly Solar

    amazing, grid, homes, today, solar, house

    Retrofitting a home to be off-grid usually comes with the added challenge of compensating for switching out existing electrical appliances and equipment that are high energy. Heating and cooling systems, well pumps and other necessary home loads require a lot of power at startup.

    In Zearley’s case, with new construction, it was possible to make sure every major electrical load used a soft starter for less initial voltage, since every building trade was present at the same time.

    “Now, trying to get the electrician, the HVAC guy, these different components of construction together because they had absolutely never dealt with anything like this before. It was a bit of a challenge,” Zearley said.

    Still, Firefly contractors were able to ensure everything from the well pump to garage door openers were on soft starters as they were being put in.

    “The opportunities outweigh the challenges in this case, because we were able to build in exactly what we needed to the system,” Wagler said. “If you can have some input into how those things are chosen, you can actually make a big difference in how the system works and functions down the road.”

    An off-grid home and workshop without energy compromise

    Zearley ended up with the home he and his wife hoped for. Seven-foot storefront glass Windows look out into the wooded property and meet a concrete slab floor that matches the countertops of the kitchen.

    The Zearley family stands in the garage of their off-grid home, next to the four Tesla PowerWalls keeping the lights on after the sun sets. Firefly Solar

    The roofline extends past the structure, creating a covered porch. The Windows open garage door-style to bring the outside in when the weather’s fair. The shop, or as Zearley described it, his “man cave,” is open air, and a section of the home protrudes into the building, creating a mezzanine where they can look down into the space.

    And solar is powering it all, with energy storage keeping it running after sunset.

    “It’s just a neat feeling to be in the house and know that you’re responsible for generating your own energy,” Zearely said.

    Projects like this demonstrate that solar storage technologies can be a viable, consistent energy source even in larger applications.

    “I think there’s going to be the microgrids and small communities with distributed energy resources all sort of coming together,” Davis said. “There will be a lot more control as this evolves, and a lot more people breaking away from monopoly utility companies. I think a lot of this depends on the research and development that goes into storage in the coming years.”

    About The Author

    Billy Ludt

    Billy Ludt is senior editor of Solar Power World and currently covers topics on mounting, installation and business issues.

    Комментарии и мнения владельцев

    I have enjoyed reading and trying to self educate myself about how to hook up solar. I’m in a 2000 sq ft home on 9 acres and hand made well. I would like to and am ready to get set up solar. I lived very simply for years 6 miles off grid raising my babies in the mountains living extremely simplified with 2 panels that ran a slow pump to pump water and minimal lights inside the house. I’m not willing to live that substantially at this point but want to be energy independent. In Washington state we are required to pay a basic fee to PUD even if we are generating all of our own energy through solar. I want independence and have done many things on my own as a single parent living in the mountains such as electrical wiring, creating gravity water systems, sheet-rocking, tiling, etc… I think I can save lots of money by doing or hiring a diy person to help me do it myself. I enjoy the challenge and want actually understand the system I have instead of being dependent financially on others to keep it going for me.

    Amen to all the folks pointing out the costs involved here. It must be quite nice to be rich and young. This dude’s car costs more than my house! I’m just jealous of course, and sick and tired of all the stereotypical American over-engineering. Who needs a 5500 sq ft house? Why use the most expensive panel on the market? I’m sure he would’ve paid about the same dealing with Electric Companies here. I’m in NC and costs per pole = 12K for new construction. I’m designing and plan on DIY’ing my own much more humble system (9.6KW solar, 30KWH storage, 12KW Sol-Ark inverter), for about a 3rd of what this dude paid. I’ve been saving for years.

    Try something like Solarwholesale dot com or bluepacificsolar dot com for DIY kits and BOS components. I like the bluepacificsolar site best, they give a lot of information to consider for on grid, off grid and grid interactive systems.

    I envy those who can afford these things. I’d love to go completely off grid, but there’s no way for us “poor” folks to manage that. On top of the cost, our town has very unreasonable restrictions on installing solar panels (because the city owns the power company). Unless you’re pretty well off, you just can’t do this around my area.

    We have a self built solar home system also. We have 2kw of qcell panels and 7kwh of Lifepo4 battery storage. Our heat, hot water, clothes dryer, and kitchen range are all natural gas. We have enough battery storage to make it through periods of overcast days. The 2kw of panels is enough to provide for our every day usage and keep the batteries charged on sunny days. We have a 1500watt inverter for our low load needs, and a 3000watt inverter and separate wiring for our larger loads. We also have a Chevy Volt with a 1500watt inverter as a backup should the need arrive. On long stretches of sunny days we can also charge the Volt. It’s just my wife and myself in our mid seventies so we really don’t use an a lot of electricity. So far the system has been meeting our needs, even in the winter. The whole system ran a little over 7500. I built the system mostly from off the shelf components that I found mostly on either EBay or Amazon. I bought wherever I could get the best deal. With our particular circumstances the system works great for us.

    Pretty much none of the LiFePO4 batteries are cheap, but there are some companies that will sell you the basic battery pack. Simpliphi has a 3.8kWh pack and can be stacked for more capacity. Humless seems to be selling a 5kWh battery pack, LG Chem has just redesigned their battery pack and they seem to be trying to compete with TESLA in pricing.

    This story makes it sound like a complete off the grid home electrical system has never been done before which is utter bullcrap. I’ve got a friend that built his own off the grid system at least 8 years ago. His system consists of solar and wind that powers a battery storage system with back up propane generator. This system runs his large home with all the modern conveniences mostly on the wind and solar and only occasionally needing the generator. While electricity was available to my friend, he want to be self reliant.

    Relax Kevin, The wonderful thing is we can all experiment and adapt the different technologies to save money and/or be free from black outs and brown outs. Who went off grid first will not matter in the end. JKF

    No, they just said it had not been done in his area, and the contractor hadn’t done it before. Re-read it.

    My 500 watt system provides 99% of all my needs. Cost 1,200 including the new 2,200 watt back up generator/ inverter and storage batteries. Rarely use my generator.

    That is awesome! Your footprint is small. Wish more people thought like you. I have a 500 watt system with about 275 amp hour batteries back up. I’m still on grid, little at a time and I hope to be off sometime.

    Your story and Bob’s story are important teaching experiences to those who balk at solar PV. We are institutionalized into the thought, I have a 200 Amp 240 Volt house panel, that’s roughly (48,000) watts and over 24 hours is 1.152MWh. Not true for most folks, not even close. You’ve proven it. On average in the U.S. the average home uses 1.5 to 2.0kWh as an average house load during the 24 hour period. Does one have current surges on high surge items like well pumps and air conditioning compressors of perhaps up to 100 Amps for milliseconds throughout the day, sure, but for most of the time you could supply the “running” load needs of the home with a 6kWp solar array and a 20kWh battery pack. This article is about an off grid house, but, what if you are tied to the grid and use it for only high surge events and high draw pumps and appliances?

    Sounds wonderful, and suspect that the wealthy find it a viable option. I am 70 and generate less than 1,000 per mo. Am saddened that it’s a bit too late. Continue to keep the dream alive!

    My entire social security is 664 a month with very little savings, often 0. My solar system cost me only 1,200 including the back up generator inverter bought new and very rarely needed. Solar system easily provides 99% of all my electricity, 100% off grid. I am 68 here in 2021. I also keep 2 of my vehicles license d and insured, and keep all property taxes up. I even spent most of 2020 on my income, in Hungary. If my SSI was 1,100 a month, I would feel like a millionaire. and build a 5,000 square foot off grid home with all that extra money.

    All of the above is nice and I would have done it however in the great State of Florida it is in the building codes that you have to be connected to the grid to get an occupancy permit. So no off grid here.

    Kind of counter intuitive. Florida is one of those places where storms can be brutal and power can be out for days. What one can do is set up a grid interactive micro-grid and use solar PV with Smart energy storage (most of the time) and use the grid for arbitrage of your own ESS and if the power does go out, be able to switch over to off grid to a critical circuits circuit breaker panel that allows things like some receptacles, lights, ceiling fans and the refrigerator/freezer and perhaps the microwave to run independently on solar PV and battery power for days, weeks, months. Grid agnostic is a little better in that when the grid is up you can “buy” their off peak or super off peak power to store in your battery for the next day when the sun is just coming up and the solar PV is not making good power yet.

    Yeah, but you could still do the same, and even though you’re technically “on grid”, you won’t be buying their power, and could possibly be selling TO them.

    I am on the Grid in Indiana where it is a little bit colder in January and February and my system is 25% bigger, 80 325 kw panels but it would take an enormous battery pack to make it through the cold months. Luckily for me we are on a one to one exchange with our grid partner. Also our panels angle with the season from 18 degrees in the summer to 45 degrees in the winter. Plus I to have a 24 kw propane generator since my inverters shut off if the grid shuts off for safety reasons for the grid owners employees. If I were to build from scratch I would definitely start with a large ground water heat pump. I hope and pray that the Lefts New Green New Deal sides with home owners on the Equal Exchange so I do not have to install batteries or at least Grandfather we solar owners the deal we started with. Our Grid Cost is 16.05 a month.

    Since most homes use more electricity to cool in summer and more gas to heat in winter, your whole argument here doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    Here in Sunny California, even with solar panels and batteries, the criminal mobs ( ops, missprint – I meant to say PGE, SDGE, Edison) are still required to charge “grid fees” as per state law. It supports those massive kickbacks ( ops, I meant to say it shares expenses of the campaign contributions and vacations for Congress-persons and California Public Utilities Commission “expenses” in guarding the public from high rates).

    There was a recent white paper written by an affiliate of the CPUC that predicts both SCE and PGE will have average electricity rates of 0.30kWh to 0.35/kWh for PGE and SCE by 2025 to 2030. SDGE is predicted to be at (0.47/kWh) in this time frame. A move towards grid agnostic solar PV systems is a wise decision in mandate madness California.

    offgrid with 19.5kw. you must not have kids and use very little power I have a 24kw system and it generates about half my daily usage. kudos to you!

    Wow. I living was mostly off grid with a 1kw system. I could even run my ac unit when the sun was shining (only had 2kwh of storage so had to stop overnight or run the 3.5kw generator). Even in my place now 3kw would be way more than enough for my usage except for in the height of summer

    Fascinating! Owner should by another EV: Tesla’s don’t have vehicle-to-grid possibilities. Then he can also store power via his car and use it if needed, or bring extra power to his home.

    I don’t think I would be on speaking terms with my neighbors. What kind of Aholes say no to someone needing to run electricity to their house? I think after I got some stuff paid off I would buy some more batteries and solar panels it looks like he has plenty of room. How about 5 windmills about 10 ft in diameter would help for when the sun isn’t shining. I think I could make something like that.

    PGE won’t hardly clear trees in California. Different crews to mark and cut live and dead tree hazards. Very inefficient. I keep asking them to cut more on my place but tbey won’t. So more fires.

    Nice setup, but with no shading issues, firefly is could have built this much much cheaper, simpler and just as reliable, by not using the microinverters and going with off the boat from China batteries. Could buy a full blown car with twice the capacity, with bidirectional charger, for the cost of 4 powerwalls.

    Even with tax credits it had a cost 30 to 40,000, I would really like however for some genius to figure out how to generate electricity from the temperature differential was a closed water loop system that they currently use for air conditioning by digging a tube 6 or 10 ft below soil level

    That’s probably similar to the cost he was facing to run new lines and poles. Then he’d be on the hook for life, paying a monthly bill to the power co. Now he’s free and clear.

    I have 3000sqft home, my own well, vineyards, 2 heat pumps, all electric appliances, and an EV. 17kW of solar, 4 Tesla powerwall 2s, and I no longer have utility bills at all. We stay connected simply because Southern California Edison pays us a measly 0.02 per kWh. I commute with the car and still only use about half of what we generate.

    I have installed a similar system and chuckled about the Contractors using generators to run their tools as that’s exactly what happened for the first few months until the metal roof was installed. Now they’re running off the solar and batteries. They’re in rural Kansas where the utility was going to charge a fortune. The customer has 35k in a 12kw system with 30kwh of lithium rack batteries. They are running propane for heat for now but I think ground source heat pump is in their future.

    I really appreciate the robustness of a PV battery system where each panel has its own inverter and so can be regarded as an independent supplier of energy. With 4 PowerWall batteries, can they also be regarded as an array of independent units? I like the idea of a “Smart ESS” to be able to ration the power around the 24 hour day. Could a smarter ESS have an annual prediction to ration the power around the year? I would like to be independent of the fossil fueled backup generator. Could it be compressed air started, bio-diesel fueled? There was no mention of the heating/cooling system details. With all that land I assume that a ground source, heat pump system would offer the best year round efficiency, and be electricity powered.

    A mini split heating/cooling unit was installed. It was sufficient through the summer, but in the winter the generator would come on more than desired. He installed a wood burner to heat the home, and that sufficed for the rest of the winter. The generator is never needed now. (Or extremely rarely.)

    “I like the idea of a “Smart ESS” to be able to ration the power around the 24 hour day. Could a smarter ESS have an annual prediction to ration the power around the year?” Sonnen ecolinx 30.0 has some Smart home ability and can be set up with a communications link that can talk to Smart appliances. One can control loads in the house from a Smart phone APP or the Sonnen HMI itself can be programmed to schedule loads. An example might be an on demand or all electric hot water heater. If there’s no one home during the work week, one could program the water heater be off during the day and on in the late afternoon and early evening. There are actual “microgrid” systems with modular energy storage being introduced to the public, one actually has choices from mild to wild. Simpliphi, Sonnen, GENERAC PWRcell, Humless Universal, ELM Fieldsight. If one goes towards the larger commercial and industrial microgrids that are three phase based, there’s a whole ‘other’ group of medium to large scale microgrids available.

    Off grid systems are way more common than people think. There is a whole community online. Start with YouTube. This system would be considered high end and somewhat experimental. My off grid ranch, has 10kw of solar panels, 10k low frequency inverter, and 684AH of battery storage, 14k backup generator. So far spent 17k. Never will ever need the power company.

    I put together a do it yourself system much smaller capacity with surplus batteries for my summer cabin. Batteries are powered with solar, wind and a back up DC charging system that powers a 5K/10K inverter. Sometimes we run the gen for 20 minutes before bedtime to top off the batteries for the night. Heat and refer are propane. Simple and cheap. All done for under 5K. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.

    amazing, grid, homes, today, solar, house

    You are still using propane and a generator. That is not a sustainable solution. Using solar and batteries is not requiring any fuel source for years. Its like something I heard a while back. A world full of Prius’s is world still addicted to oil.

    Yeah they will have problems in a power outage. The power available will not suffice with Telsa’s batteries

    He has installed four PowerWalls that have a combined storage capacity of 54 kWh. That is about 150% of my daily energy requirements and I have a very average home of 2100 square feet. He also has enough solar to generate about 75 kWh per day, based on NREL projections. Therefore he can fully charge his batteries and still have around 20 kWh of energy left over to run the house in the daytime. I have installed two similar systems in Tennessee where we have about the same solar irradiance as this system and this will definitely work. In case we get into monsoon season and have 9 days of clouds and rain in a row, there is always the generator there for backup. All he lacks is electric vehicles and he should be able to forget gas as well.

    “In Zearley’s case, with new construction, it was possible to make sure every major electrical load used a soft starter for less initial voltage, since every building trade was present at the same time.” An overall good point, either specific energy star motors, pumps and appliances or “soft start” feed the motor to be used. This set up, this guy has the room on his roof and overhangs to install 5 times the solar PV array capacity he has now. Something like 85k installed for this set up. Some installations by the utility are charging around 10k per pole to the property (IF) you can get a right of way. Just 20 years ago, this would have been a 200 to 250k system installed. Keep going, get the “packages” of solar PV energy storage that can be fully off grid (or) for less one could have a grid agnostic system, if you happen to have a grid connection great, it will be backup, if not use a Smart ESS to determine and control loads in the home to run off of solar PV and battery over a 24 hour period. Solar PV inverters are becoming more robust and there are some that have 25 year in use warranties. Careful applications of these technologies are making longer lasting systems, making the utility less useful for one’s daily energy needs.

    How much is the final cost ? Without that information one cannot even consider such as this. Without the final cost where will the funds come from. I am a general contractor and I am interested in this information.

    Your question is relevant and this article lays out a specific case. This guy wasted a lot of time trying to get a right of way to put in an electric feed to his property. Each property will be different. Some rural examples of a developer buying a few acres in a remote area, breaking the properties into smaller acre or so lots then developing them have run into utility proposals like 1million dollars or more to extend a utility feed into the development area. Laying in utilities like buried electric to each lot can cost from 100k to 500k a mile. Search for one such project: Silvies Valley Ranch, Burns Oregon. This development used Humless Universal Microgrids for each home built.

    I live in Gainesville Florida there’s a lien on my property I can’t get financing to put solar on my house and I’m being strapped to light bills between 250 and 325 a month and it’s very expensive and I was hoping there’d be a better way I could possibly do it please give me info thanks

    Well if you’re fortunate enough that your time is so valuable that cost is no option than your reply makes sense. Otherwise I agree with John. This sounds and looks cool but so does a 500K Ferrari. The VAST majority of people couldn’t afford anything near this and won’t for decades, if ever. “Green” energy is great but everything is for the 1%

    Things have changed in just the last 5 years. solar PV is cheaper now to adopt than it was 15 years ago, 10 years ago and I’ve been using the simple solar PV roof array that is grid tied for 16 years now and can say payoff in less than 15 years is ‘probable’ across the U.S. Those folks that bought a larger array and got a home charge station and a use EV like the Leaf, are able to pay off a relatively large solar PV system in about 5 years with monthly energy savings of not having to buy electricity and gasoline for the EV. I can assure you, I’m no where near the 1%, maybe not even in the bottom of the ‘top’ 40%.

    Determining how many solar panels can power a house doesn’t have to be complicated. From watts to kilowatts and more, these tips will help you figure out how many solar panels are required in a solar system for home use.

    By Melissa Graham | Updated Jan 26, 2023 4:28 PM

    We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

    Q: I’m interested in installing a solar panel system for my home, but I don’t know much about solar panels. How effective are they? How many solar panels power a house?

    A: There are plenty of incentives and benefits for switching from a traditional utility system to a solar-powered one. There are rebates and tax credits, but also the knowledge that you’re helping improve the environment. If you’re wondering, “How many solar panels do I need?” a few essential elements will answer the question. The tips below will help walk you through calculating how many solar panels you need and what factors will affect that number. While calculating these numbers yourself can give you an idea of what kind of solar array you’ll need, know that a qualified solar panel installer will do all of these calculations for you if you proceed with installing solar panels.

    You’ll need to know three things: your annual energy usage, the solar panel wattage, and the production ratio.

    ”How much solar do I need?” is an expected question from a homeowner new to solar systems. To figure out exactly how many panels are required to run a home, you will need to consider your annual energy usage, the solar panel wattage, and the production ratio. These three factors are essential when converting to a solar system. While this calculation will give you a ballpark estimate, consider that other factors will affect the actual number of panels, which will be touched on later.

    If you’re looking to install a designated solar heating system—one where solar panels heat liquid or air and convert it into central heating for a home—you’ll also need an experienced HVAC installer who can convert your existing central heating system to a solar heating one.

    Maybe it’s time to call in a solar energy pro. Get free, no-commitment estimates from experts near you.

    Look at your utility bill to determine how many watts you use.

    Energy usage is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). KWh does not mean the number of kilowatts you use in an hour, but rather the amount of energy you would use keeping a 1,000-watt appliance running for 1 hour. The number of appliances that use power and how often they’re running will affect the usage. Anything plugged into a wall will count toward your energy usage, and bigger appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers use more power than a phone charger. For example, a 50-inch LED television uses around 0.016 kWh per hour, whereas an electric dishwasher will use about 2 kWh per load.

    As of 2019, the average American household uses 10,649 kWh of electricity per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But the best way to determine how much power you’ll need is by looking at your utility bills from the past year. This will give you a solid idea of your real-life energy needs, especially as power usage fluctuates throughout the year. The amount of energy you use will dictate the size of the system you need.

    While installing solar panels can often reduce or even completely offset your monthly electric bill, remember that electric rates and usage are volatile factors. If the price of electricity or the amount you use drastically changes, your savings could change as well. For example, central to southern California is considered a great place to install solar panels because of the frequent sun—but it also is a state that regularly sees higher electricity prices.

    Once you know your home’s energy demands, it’s time to start looking at panels. Look at different panels and see what the wattages are. The solar panel wattage is also known as the power rating, and it’s a panel’s electrical output under ideal conditions. This is measured in watts (W). A panel will usually produce between 250 and 400 watts of power. For the equation later on, assume an average of 320 W per panel.

    Use your annual energy consumption and solar panel rating to calculate the production ratio.

    You can calculate the production ratio when you have the numbers for your annual energy usage and the solar panel wattage. The production ratio is a system’s estimated energy output over time (measured in kWh) compared to the actual system size (measured in W). To calculate the production ratio, divide the energy output by the system’s total wattage. In the U.S., production ratios tend to fall between 1.3 and 1.6.

    Maybe it’s time to call in a solar energy pro. Get free, no-commitment estimates from experts near you.

    Once you have these three numbers, it’s time to calculate the number of panels. The formula is:

    Number of panels = system size / production ratio / panel wattage

    For example, using 10,649 kWh (the average energy usage of an American household), 1.3 (the low end of common production ratios), and 320 W (the average wattage of a solar panel):

    Number of panels = 10,649 kWh / 1.3 / 320 W = 25.6

    From this calculation, you can estimate that a house with these power requirements would need about 25 panels that produce 320 W.

    Take the amount of sun your home receives into consideration.

    Remember that this calculation assumes that the panels are running under optimum conditions. direct sunlight means your home can convert more energy into electricity. In states like Arizona and New Mexico, which are known to produce more sunlight than states in the Northeast, homeowners will likely need fewer solar panels. Nevada, Utah, California, Texas, and Colorado are other locations that usually produce more sunlight. But even if you live in a region or state with long winters or one that’s outside of the Sun Belt, you may need to purchase more solar panels to effectively run the home.

    The size, shape, and material of your roof will also affect the best placement of solar panels. The ideal roof has no shade coverage from trees and large amounts of space facing south, west, or east—these are the directions that receive the most sunlight throughout the day in the northern hemisphere. Roofs with steep pitches make installing solar panels more difficult and can mean that an installer may not be able to fit as many panels on the roof. The same goes for oddly shaped roofs.

    The number of solar panels you need will also depend on if your home will be on-grid or off-grid.

    Often the more popular option, on-grid solar panel systems are connected to the public utility grid. If there isn’t enough sun to provide full power, the house can pull energy from the traditional grid, so it doesn’t have to go without electricity. On the other hand, an off-grid system is not connected to the public grid and is more common in rural or remote locations.

    Off-grid systems rely on batteries to store power to keep the house running at night or on cloudy days. Off-grid systems will likely need more panels to run the house and store up excess energy. On-grid or off-grid systems can affect the overall cost of your solar power system.

    Figuring out how much solar battery capacity you need is a task unto itself. Not enough capacity and you’ll run out of power in the middle of the night, but too much and you’ll add unnecessary complexity and maintenance costs. The number of batteries you need will also depend on the type of battery you choose. Lead acid batteries are more cost-effective, but lithium-ion batteries have better capacity, efficiency, and lifespan.

    Maybe it’s time to call in a solar energy pro. Get free, no-commitment estimates from experts near you.

    The type of solar panel will affect its efficiency.

    There are three types of solar panels available: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are both composed of cells made out of silicon. The silicon pieces are assembled to form a rectangle and covered with a glass sheet. Monocrystalline solar cells are cut from a single silicon crystal, while polycrystalline cells are composed of fragments of silicon crystals. This difference in construction affects the efficiency and price. Monocrystalline panels are more efficient and perform better, but they’re also more expensive. Polycrystalline solar panel are more affordable, but you’ll compromise a bit on efficiency and performance.

    There are also thin-film solar panels. Like the name suggests, the cells are thinner than monocrystalline or polycrystalline. However, the actual panel itself may not be significantly thinner than other styles of panels. Thin-film panels are more portable and flexible than either monocrystalline or polycrystalline, but they’re less efficient. Different panels will have different pros and cons depending on your home, geographic location, and more, and your solar installer will be able to give you advice on what’s best suited for you.

    While this guide can give you general information about the number of panels, solar panel sizes, and types of systems you might consider, remember that a qualified solar power installer will be able to give you more information that’s specific to your home. Many variables play into how efficient solar systems are, and it can be difficult to take all of those into consideration when you’re not experienced.

    Introduction: Take Your Home Off Grid the Smart Way

    Over the last few years there has been a strong shift in thinking, more and more households are becoming aware of their impact on the environment and are taking steps to reduce their footprint. Going green or going off grid are now trendy terms and can significantly increase you homes value and save you on your electrical bill.

    In this instructable, when we talk about going off grid, we are talking about becoming completely electrically independent, you do not need to rely on any electrical utility provider to power your home. If you are looking at taking your water supply off grid as well, watch this space, we will hopefully cover this next month.

    As with a number of things, there is a Smart way to go off grid and and easy way to go off grid. We will briefly discuss the easy way however our FOCUS will be on the Smart way as this yields better savings in the long run and is the more environmentally friendly option.

    If you find this Instructable helpful, please vote for it.

    Cover Image: Solar Panels by Chris Kantos used under CC BY 2.0

    Step 1: The Easy Way to Go Off Grid

    The easiest way to take your home off grid is to call up a solar installation company and have them replace your utility power supply with a solar array. They will order a number of panels for you, cover your sunny roof, fill your garage or basement with batteries and you’ll be ready to go, easy right? You could even embrace your inner DIY’er and select, buy and install you own solar installation.

    The reason we don’t recommend this is because in the long run, this approach is actually extremely inefficient and can land up being very costly. Unless you live in a home which was designed in the last three to five years specifically to be energy efficient, it was never designed to be taken off grid. Power was cheap and always available so it didn’t really matter too much how much power your home used. With modern house designs this FOCUS has shifted and designers are now constantly looking for ways to reduce household energy consumption.

    There are a number of household appliances and necessities which are fundamentally different in a house which has been designed with energy efficiency in mind and this extends far beyond changing all of your incandescent globes to LEDs. Water heaters, ovens, stoves, fridges, air conditioners etc, all of these energy hungry appliances have more efficient versions or alternatives which lend themselves towards an off grid household. This brings us to the Smart way to take your home off grid.

    Step 2: The Smart Way to Go Off Grid. Water Heating

    The Smart way involves a lot more work and planning but will save you a lot more money in the long run as you are changing your home to be more energy efficient rather than just powering your current home’s needs using more equipment.

    Firstly you need to look at your big energy users and how you can change or remove them in order to reduce your energy demands, we’ll go into these in a bit more detail below and in the following steps.

    The Water Heater / Geyser

    Water heaters are an essential part of any household so you need to look at ways to make them more efficient rather than removing them altogether. Most older houses will have a water heater in a column outside, in the roof, basement or garage. It is essentially an insulated tank with a large element in it which keeps a large amount of water permanently hot.

    We know that in order to keep something hot, we have to keep replacing the energy that is being lost into the environment. We also have to keep on heating the cold water that is added to replace any of the hot water we have used. In order to make this process as efficient as possible, there are three possible solutions.

    The first is to make the current setup more efficient, add a blanket around your heater/geyser which insulates it further and prevents heat from escaping which means less energy is used to keep the water hot. You can also reduce the thermostat temperature as the higher the temperature difference between the water in the heater and the ambient air, the higher the losses. Reduce the temperature to the point where you do not need to mix cold water with it in order to have a hot shower, this is usually the hottest you require water to be in your home. Lastly, you can add a timer. Timers are quite largely debated as you have to follow a strict routine in order to see any savings and to avoid having the occasional cold shower. Basically, you want the timer to only switch the heater on once a day, an hour later the heater should be turned off and everyone should shower. The water should then remain cold until the next day when the timer turns on again. If you can’t follow this type of routine then a timer is probably not going to have much effect on your electrical bill.

    The second option is to change your water heater or geyser to a solar one. This type of heater sits in a sunny spot on the roof and uses black vacuum tubes to harness the heat from the sun and use it to heat up your water and to keep it warm. These heaters often come with an element as well to boost the water temperature when there has not been enough sun throughout the day. These heaters however can only be used in warmer, sunny climates and are not suitable for snow or icy regions.

    The last option is to replace the water heater with an inline gas or electric model. Why should we store large amounts of hot water and pay to keep the water hot when we can just heat water up as we need it? These devices are fitted near the tap or shower and switch on automatically when water starts flowing to instantly heat up the water. If you are considering going off grid then an inline gas heater is probably your best solution.

    Step 3: Air Conditioning and Heating

    The next big user of electricity in your home is the air conditioner and the central heating.

    Consider replacing your air conditioner with an evaporative cooler. These box like systems look similar to an AC and can be mounted on a wall or on the roof. They rely on the evaporation of water in order to cool the air which is blown through them. In hot climates with a low humidity they are just as effective as air conditioning and use up to 80% less electricity. If an evaporative cooler won’t work in your environment due to a high humidity, then switch to ordinary household fans, a fan also uses up to 95% less electricity than the air conditioner.

    For heating, you should again consider switching to gas or to a solid fuel based central heater. Gas heating systems are the most efficient, often the cheapest to buy and gas is one of the cheaper fuels you can buy. In some regions gas is piped directly to your home so you don’t need to worry about having cylinders stored around your property.

    Step 4: Kitchen Appliances

    Stove Oven

    The stove and the oven are not going to make a huge difference to your energy savings in the long run, unless you cook a lot. Making changes to them will however significantly reduce your peak demand in the evening and this helps to reduce the inverter size and to some extent the battery bank capacity.

    Gas stoves and gas ovens are the best solution to an off grid home and if you are changing your heating and water heating to gas solutions then it will be easy for you to install a single cylinder or pipe your gas line to multiple appliances and reap the rewards of reduced energy consumption.

    This one only really applies if you have a fridge which is older than about 10 years. Modern fridges offer significantly improved insulation and new digital inverter based refrigeration systems which together result in the fridge running for less time and with less power. These savings add up in the long term and will reduce the size of your solar installation.

    Step 5: Lighting

    This is probably the best marketed energy saving tip for your home, changing your incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs can save you up to 90%. Now this is true as a 60 watt incandescent bulb is usually replaced by a 7 or 9 watt LED bulb however if you look at the contribution lighting makes to your monthly electricity bill, the savings are actually quite low in comparison to making changes to your water heating, stove or air conditioning.

    That said, changing your household lighting to LEDs is a must if you are going off grid. The number of lights in your home quickly add up and if you do the maths on additional inverter size and additional batteries you require to run more power hungry CFL, fluorescent or incandescent lights, you will see that is is much cheaper to change all of your lights to LEDs before changing to a solar installation.

    If you are going to be changing all of your lighting in order to go off grid then it is worth considering replacing your 110VAC or 220VAC lights with a 12V lighting circuit. You will need to get an electrician to give you advice and make a few changes to your distribution board but it is usually quite a cheap conversion as the wiring can be preserved and you get 12V bulbs which fit into the existing AC sockets. The benefit of changing to 12V lies with the non need for an inverter. Your lighting can now be powered directly from your 12V batteries. This saves you money by reducing the size of the inverter you need for the rest of your house, 12V LED lights are more efficient than AC lights as LEDs are inherently DC and 12V LED globes are cheaper than AC globes.

    Step 6: Now Change to Solar Panels

    Once you have worked through these big energy users, you home will already be using significantly less electricity. I made these changes to my home and have seen savings of around 75% on the original electrical bill meaning my energy usage is currently a quarter of what it was originally. I only have to supply a quarter of what I originally had to supply with solar power which means my conversion will be almost a quarter of the price and I will only need to replace a quarter of the original number of batteries every two years.

    Now you can work on switching your electrical supply to solar. This article on switching to solar details all of the components required and how to select them. There is nothing complicated with a solar installation and it is an easy project to do yourself over a few weekends. You will need to get an electrician in to do the final connections to your distribution board, to check your installation and make sure that everything conforms to your local regulations. He may also have to provide you with a compliance certificate so be sure to check your local regulations before you complete the installation or make any changes to your existing electrical supply.

    If you would like to save further when switching to solar power, you could also try making your own solar panels. It is actually quite easy although it is time consuming and you should be fairly competent with a soldering iron before taking on this project. Solar panels are essentially just a string of solar cells which are mounted onto a piece or glass and a frame and by making one yourself you can eliminate around half of the cost of a commercial panel.

    Once you have selected the main components for your solar power system, use this guide and spreadsheet to check that the components are compatible and adequately sized: Solar Power Design Check. Remember that if you are changing your lighting circuit to 12V then you can remove their power demand from the inverter calculation but you still need to take them into account for the battery calculation.

    That’t it, your home will now be using much less energy and your new solar installation will cost you a fraction of what it was going to cost just my making a few changes to the way in which your home uses energy.

    Just a reminder, if you find this Instructable helpful, please vote for it.

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