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Can a House Run on Solar Power Alone. Fully solar powered house

Can a House Run on Solar Power Alone. Fully solar powered house

    Can a House Run on Solar Power Alone?

    One of the most common questions we hear from homeowners who are thinking about going solar is whether solar panels can really power their entire home. The answer is a resounding yes. With a high-quality solar energy system that includes battery storage, you can absolutely run your whole house on solar power.

    Boston Solar installs custom residential solar energy systems that are designed to match your home’s energy consumption so that your whole house can run on solar. Keep reading to learn more about what we consider when designing a whole-home solar energy system.

    How to Run Your Whole House on Solar Energy

    Size Position Your Solar Panels for Optimal Energy Production

    Solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity and distributing it throughout your home via your electrical panel. In order to power your entire home with solar energy, your PV system needs to be able to produce at least as much electricity as you consume.

    To make this happen, you need to:

    • Know how much electricity you use on a monthly basis
    • Install enough solar panels to meet your electricity needs
    • Make sure your panels receive adequate sunlight throughout the day

    A custom solar panel system design will ensure that your PV panels are optimally sized and positioned to meet or exceed your home’s energy consumption.

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    When you go solar with Boston Solar, we’ll analyze the past 12 months of your electric bills to determine how many solar panels you need to run your house, while accounting for future expansions like an EV charger installation. We’ll also consider factors like daily sunlight hours, roof space, and more to design a custom solar system that can produce enough power to run your whole home.

    Install Solar Battery Storage

    Because solar panels use sunlight to generate electricity, they can’t power your home at night. To use solar power when there isn’t enough sunlight, you need solar battery storage, which allows you to store the excess electricity your PV panels generate during the day.

    To run your entire house on solar power alone, you will need a large battery bank to keep your home running at night. If you maintain a grid connection, you’ll still be able to use the electric grid as a backup option should you run out of stored solar energy. If you decide to go fully off grid with solar panels in Massachusetts, you will need to make sure you have plenty of battery backup.

    Switch to All-Electric Appliances

    Many of the appliances we rely on, like furnaces, water heaters, and gas stoves, run on gas—not electricity. If you want to run your entire home on solar power, you’ll need to replace your gas appliances with all-electric appliances that can run entirely on solar power:

    Electrifying your home allows you to cut fossil fuels out completely and run your home entirely on solar energy. By switching to all-electric appliances, you can save money on energy costs, reduce your carbon footprint, and even improve your home’s indoor air quality.

    Talk to the Leading Solar Provider Near You in MA about Whole Home Solar

    Boston Solar has been empowering Massachusetts for over 10 years and is the leading local solar installer near you in MA. If you’re thinking about going solar, we want to help. We’ve completed over 5,000 solar panel installations and can design a custom system that meets your power needs. We provide clear answers that help you make the best decision for your home, and we make the solar installation process seamless.

    Power your whole house with solar! Call 617-858-1645 or contact us for a free consultation and solar panel cost estimate.

    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.

    India’s first fully solar powered village is helping residents to save time and money

    than 1,300 solar panels have been installed on homes and government buildings to power the village of Modhera.

    Kesa Bhai Prajapati beams with a smile as he moulds blocks of clay into jugs and vases on a potter’s wheel.

    These days, Prajapati, 68, from the village of Modhera in western India’s Gujarat state, has doubled the amount of earthenware he makes compared to a few months ago. Then, he had to turn the wheel manually as he could not afford high electricity bills that cost up to 1,500 Indian rupees (around €18) a month.

    Now, however, his machine moves on solar power. Last month, Prajapati’s village of around 6,500 residents. consisting mainly of potters, tailors, farmers and shoemakers. was declared India’s first village to run entirely on solar energy all the time.

    Electricity has helped us to save time and produce more products, Prajapati said.

    India aims to produce half of its energy with renewables

    India, the world’s third-largest carbon dioxide emitter, aims to meet half of its energy demands from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2030. It is a boost over its previous target of 40 per cent, which the government said it achieved in December 2021.

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    The project in Modhera was financed by the federal and provincial government costing nearly €10 million. It involved setting up over 1,300 rooftop panels on residential and government buildings that were connected to a power plant.

    The government buys excess energy produced here from residents if they do not use all of the capacity allotted to the households.

    With this money, Praveen Bhai, 43, a tailor, plans to buy a gas connection and stove, since many houses in the village cook food in wood-fired stoves that leave a smoky haze.

    house, solar, power, alone, fully

    I had to teach the kids under the street lamp. Now they will be able to study inside the house.

    India’s first solar-powered village

    Modhera, also known for its ancient Sun Temple dedicated to the sun god, is situated in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat, which is holding elections later this year.

    For a self-reliant India of the 21st century, we have to increase such efforts related to our energy needs, Modi said earlier this month.

    For Reena Ben, 36, a housewife, who also works as a tailor part time, solar power has hugely aided her work.

    When we got access to solar power, I bought an electric motor worth 2,000 rupees (€24) to attach to the sewing machine. Now I am able to sew one or two more clothes daily.

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    What you need to know about converting your home to solar

    If you live in an area with abundant sunlight—hello, fellow southern Californians—you’ve probably thought about installing solar panels on your roof to save on your electric bill. But with so much information, it can be hard to know where to start.

    Look no further—start here

    Between the different types of panels, financing, inverters, and other jargon, researching solar energy can feel overwhelming at first. That’s why I recommend starting at a solar quote comparison site like EnergySage, Solar-Estimate, or SolarReviews (the latter two are run by the same people).

    Both EnergySage and Solar-Estimate act as educational resources and comparison shopping tools to help you field bids. I’ve been using EnergySage, which is chock-full of articles explaining the technology involved. You can also watch videos, look at their buyer’s guide, or start getting quotes. Their Solar 101 series of articles will help you understand the basics, and when you’re done, scroll through the site’s “Learn About Solar” sidebar to read even more articles that’ll give you a feel for the process.

    To understand what your home requires, though, you’ll need to look up how much electricity you use. If your bill tells you the average amount of electricity you use each month, make a note of that, or calculate a quick and dirty average yourself. The more information you have on your usage, the more accurate an estimate you can get from installers.

    Your energy usage will determine how many panels you’ll need on your roof. Too few, and you’ll still have to pay the electric company for whatever extra power you use. Too many, and you’ll waste money on panels you don’t need—though the electric company will give you credits for any energy you don’t use, should you one day need electricity from the grid.

    Keep in mind your future use, too—EnergySage CEO Vikram Aggarwal says that if you plan on getting an electric car, for example, you may want to add a few more panels than you currently need. My neighbor did exactly that, and he’s glad he doesn’t have to rely on the grid for the increased energy usage his new car requires.

    From there, you can call local installers directly or plug your information into EnergySage to streamline the process. “You tell us about your home, your bill, and we ask you if you have any preferences regarding equipment, quality, or type of financing. Based on that information, you’ll get quotes from half a dozen pre-screened solar companies,” explains Aggarwal.

    Since these quotes contain a number of figures, including a “price per watt,” it’s a bit easier to compare each installer apples-to-apples—rather than just comparing the total cost of each installation that you might get from individual quotes. And, unlike some other solar comparison tools, you won’t have to share your phone number on EnergySage, which is a big plus if you don’t want unsolicited phone calls. (Both EnergySage and Solar-Estimate make money from installers, who pay a fee to list on the site.)

    How to choose an installer

    As with any big project, don’t just pick the first cheap quote that comes along. “Consumers should get three to five quotes from a mix of different kinds of solar companies to truly evaluate their options,” says Aggarwal. That way, you’ll get a feel for the average cost—pay special attention to the price per watt, which is your main point of price comparison—though it isn’t the only factor you should consider when selecting an installer.

    When you find some you like, reach out to the companies and set up a visit to your home where they can create a more detailed plan. You may find that a slightly more expensive installer makes a better pitch for the project. My brother-in-law, for example, liked that his chosen company had a keen attention to detail and helped explain the process to him. Other companies he looked at were cheaper, but didn’t take as much care in helping him decide between products, or determining the most aesthetic way to run the conduit to the electrical panel. So don’t be afraid to get a few on-site visits under your belt before committing. (And make sure a company is licensed, insured, and certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners—you can search their database of companies here.)

    Different installers may carry or recommend different panels and inverters, too. (Inverters convert the direct current from the panels to alternating current for your home.).efficient panels are naturally more expensive, but may be necessary if you can’t fit enough lower-efficiency panels on your roof to cover your home’s electricity usage. If you have a large roof or lower usage, you can go with less-expensive panels. You can also choose between more-affordable inverters mounted to the side of your house and pricier, more-efficient ones that sit on your roof. A good installer will walk you through all your options, so you can make an informed decision.

    The installer should also draw up the plans, get the permits, and install the actual equipment. So while the installation may be fairly quick, the start-to-finish process may take a few weeks to a few months, depending on your situation. Your installer should also tell you if you need to upgrade your electrical panel, which may be required for certain homes.

    Payment and financing

    Paying for your system can feel like a minefield all on its own. There are a ton of options out there, but most of them boil down to two main flavors: you can own your system, or you can rent it from the solar company.

    Owning the system

    Buying everything outright is ideal, since you reap the biggest financial benefits. You can either pay cash, which requires a high upfront cost but nets you the largest long-term savings, or you can take out a loan, which costs a little more in the long run but doesn’t require as much immediate money. Considering a typical solar power system can cost upwards of 10,000, a loan may be attractive. Plus, with a loan, as long as your monthly payment is lower than your monthly electric bill, you start saving money on day one. Purchasing the system upfront means you won’t break even for a few years (though again, you spend less in the long run).

    That loan can come from many places, too. You can go to your bank and get it rolled into your mortgage, open a new line of credit, or get a loan through the installer, Aggarwal tells me. Going through your bank may be cheaper, he notes, but may also require more paperwork than choosing the loan your installer offers. It depends on how much legwork you want to do.

    Renting the system

    Signing a lease, a power purchase agreement, or renting a system through other means is also common, but generally not as financially advantageous. You’ll pay less money, but you won’t get as many of the benefits. “Most of the savings are going to the leasing company,” says Aggarwal. “You may only get 20 to 30 percent.” It can also be a bit complex if you ever want to sell your home—the homebuyer also has to qualify for the solar lease and agree to take over the contract. If they don’t, you could lose that sale, be forced to buy out the solar panels, or deal with the headache some other way. You won’t have to worry about maintenance or repairs, though, like you would with a system you own. If you can’t afford to buy or finance your panels, leasing may be an option, but make sure you’re aware of the downsides before proceeding.

    Crunch the numbers

    You may be curious to know how long it takes before the solar panels pay for themselves (the moment your savings overtake the initial cost of the system), particularly if you’re buying them outright. This depends on the price of electricity in your area, the incentives available in your region, and how much sunlight you typically get, Aggarwal says. In California, where I live, electricity is 56 percent more expensive than the national average, and there aren’t any state incentives. But we get so much sunlight that Aggarwal tells me California’s average payback period is seven to eight years. Most solar markets, he says, typically see payback in less than 10 years.

    That’s pretty good, because most systems are designed to last significantly longer than that. Most solar equipment is warrantied for about 25 years, but can last even longer before you need to replace them, Aggarwal says. The panels do, however, lose efficiency over time, so they may not produce as much energy once you get that far down the road. In addition, the installer’s labor warranty will likely be shorter, so you may have to do a little legwork if you encounter trouble between years 15 and 25, for example.

    Finding tax credits and rebates

    If you choose to buy your solar system, you may be eligible for a number of financial incentives. It can be hard to keep track of what’s available, though, especially considering the federal government has started to phase out tax credits for solar. For 2020, the current federal tax credit stands at 26 percent of the cost of your system. This isn’t a rebate, it’s a tax credit, which means it’s deducted from the taxes you owe next year. If you don’t owe any taxes, you won’t get a check in the mail. The credit goes down to 22 percent in 2021, then phases out for residential customers in 2022.

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    There are also state or local incentives, but these can vary by location. Aggarwal recommends checking out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency, or DSIRE, to see what’s available in your area. Your accountant may also be able to help you make sense of all this for your specific tax situation—so give them a call as you’re running the numbers to see what your final cost and savings will be.

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