Skip to content
Off grid solar electricity. Can Off-Grid Solar Run AC?

Off grid solar electricity. Can Off-Grid Solar Run AC?

    Utilities: Connected/Off-Grid

    If your home or building is on-grid already, a grid-tied system is the least expensive to install and the simplest to operate and maintain. There is no need for owner maintenance or technical ability, and as the system feeds renewable electricity into the grid through your meter. The vast majority of installs in Oregon are grid-tied. Off-grid solar is popular option for sites that are not close to transmission lines or for people who want to be independent of their utility. Increasing, homeowners and businesses are installing grid-tied solar systems in conjunction with batteries. This helps to ensure the house or building will have some power if the grid is down.

    Connected to the grid: Meters, Monitoring, Net Metering

    Most electric meters measure electricity moving both into and out of your home or business. Generally, we are taking electricity from the electric grid for our needs. The meter runs “forward” as it counts up the kilowatt hours we have consumed. But if you generate electricity with a grid-tied PV system and you make more electricity than you need, net metering allows this excess electricity to run the other way through the meter and back into the electric grid.

    Air Conditioning, Reliable Inverter, Off Grid, Solar and Batteries

    For example, on a sunny summer day a PV system might produce more electricity than needed at the time. Conversely, in the evening when everyone is home, electricity needs may exceed the output of the system.

    If you put 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of excess electricity into the electric grid during the day, net metering allows you to take 10 kWh of electricity out of the grid later and pay nothing extra for this electricity. In effect, you are allowed to “bank” these 10 kWh and use them later to offset your need to buy this electricity.

    Your inverter probably has a display showing cumulative generation, but if you change inverters, you would lose the count to that point. So the best way to monitor the output of your solar electric system is a dedicated meter at the inverter.

    Off-grid solar

    If your site is remote and grid electricity is not available, then an off-grid system is the only choice. An off-grid system will be a good choice for you, and save you money over extending the power line, if the following are all true:

    • Your residence is over 1/4 mile from existing power lines.
    • You are willing to accept that you may not have unlimited power on-demand.
    • You are willing to manage your own power system.

    If some of these are not true, the cost of owning and operating a stand-alone off-grid system will increase, and may be more than the cost of extending the power line.

    Oregon Department of Energy has an Oregon Solar Electric Guide which contains help information on related to sizing and planning off-grid PV systems to meet your electricity needs.

    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

    grid, solar, electricity, off-grid

    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.

    Solar Powered Air Conditioner Discussion for Gridtie or Offgrid Systems

    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

    “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.”

    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 450,200 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?

    Off-Grid Solar Power Systems

    Off-grid solar is best for delivering power to remote locations where there is no access to a utility line.

    Folks who live off the grid are solely responsible for generating their own electricity. This is usually accomplished by building an off-grid solar system that can cover a day’s worth of electricity usage, with a backup generator to supplement production during long stretches of bad weather.

    Advantages of Off-Grid Solar Power Systems

    The main draw of off-grid solar is the freedom to live wherever you want. It doesn’t matter if your property is 100 miles from civilization: if you have sunlight, you have a reliable way to generate power.

    Although off-grid solar components are more expensive, there can be some hidden financial benefits to living off the grid that can offset those higher costs. Undeveloped plots of land located far off the grid will naturally cost less than a prime grid-tie location. In many cases, the lower land costs do more than enough to offset the higher cost of going solar off the grid.

    Disadvantages of Off-Grid Solar Power Systems

    Pretty simple, really: the need for a battery bank makes off-grid solar significantly more expensive.

    However, it’s often wiser to invest in an off-grid solar system than it is to run a power line to a remote location. While an off-grid system may cost more than a grid-tie system, it is still more frugal than other remote power solutions, like running a new utility line or relying on a gas generator.

    One way to keep costs down is to use propane appliances where possible to reduce your demand for electricity. Opting for a propane stove, clothes dryer, wall heater and on-demand water heater means you can get away with a smaller inverter and smaller battery bank.

    It also helps to stagger electricity usage — for example, running laundry and the dishwasher at different times — to reduce your peak power consumption and relieve some of the costs of energy storage.

    Backup Solar Power Systems

    If you live on the grid, but you want protection from power outages, your best bet is a battery backup system.

    Backup power systems connect to the grid, and function like a normal grid-tie system on a day-to-day basis. However, they also feature a backup battery bank that takes over in case of outages.

    When grid power goes out, your inverter automatically disconnects from the grid and draws on energy stored in your battery bank, which will keep your appliances running when the grid goes down.

    Battery backup systems have been gaining popularity recently, especially in light of news stories covering grid failures in Texas and wildfires interrupting service in California. They are also favored in climates that are vulnerable to fierce storms and natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. The backup battery bank offers peace of mind to shield the owner from blackouts.

    Lastly, battery backup is valuable if you have appliances which require uninterrupted power. If you are running a well pump, for example, service interruptions can be a massive headache. Adding backup power to your grid-tie system will keep these critical appliances running during a blackout.

    Can I start with grid-tie solar and add battery backup later?

    Yes, but it’s much easier to do if you plan for expansion in advance. Traditional grid-tie inverters like the SMA Sunny Boy aren’t equipped to handle a battery bank connection. Those can be paired with the SMA Sunny Island inverters to upgrade a hybrid battery based system, but you’ll spend more coupling a second inverter to your system.

    Hence, iIf you think that you may want to add battery backup to your system down the line, we recommend a solution like the Sol Ark series, a string inverter which is engineered to handle all three applications: grid tie, off grid, and battery backup.

    There’s also the Enphase Ensemble, a “grid-agnostic” micro-inverter system that is designed to seamlessly swap between grid power and backup power.

    You’ll be able to start with Enphase IQ micro-inverters for grid-tie use, with the option to add the Encharge storage system later without any compatibility issues.

    Watch this 5-minute video from Enphase to see how it works.

    Free Solar Roof Layout

    Our engineers use state-of-the-art software to conduct a PV analysis and draft a free layout of solar on your roof, included with our complimentary quote.

    We’ll help you figure out your solar needs!

    Fill out the form for a complimentary solar panel quote that includes a custom solar panel layout using satellite technology and a breakdown of solar energy production, federal tax credit and energy offset.

    grid, solar, electricity, off-grid

    x.png?v=62085328141785377301674165465 alt=Go Green Solar logo width=200 height=77 /

    grid, solar, electricity, off-grid

    Orange County, California

    1630 South Sunkist Street Ste E Anaheim, California 92806 Copyright © 2006-2021 GigaWatt Inc, DBA

    How to Calculate Inverter Battery Backup Time

    Leave A Reply Cancel Reply

    We are dedicated to providing informative and insightful articles on energy, with a FOCUS on renewable, green energy, solar, sustainable, and environment-related topics. Our team of experienced writers and researchers are passionate about exploring the latest advancements in clean energy and providing our readers with valuable information to help them make informed decisions about their energy consumption.

    Corporate Park, D-21, Sector 21, Dwarka, Delhi 110077

    Recent Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *