Off grid solar system – What, how and why

An off-grid solar system is not connected to the electricity grid. It uses battery storage. These systems must be designed correctly to generate enough power throughout the year. They must also have the right battery capacity to meet your property demands. With battery costs reducing, off grid systems are becoming increasingly popular.

An off-grid solar system will save you money on electricity. Therefore, you’ll be less dependent on the national grid. Likewise, your business or home can run without interruption. Hence, a lot less stress! Additionally, these are a cleaner energy source.

The battery technology that makes it possible to have an off grid solar system does exist. Various factors influence solar efficiency. We recommend you investigate options. Do your research. Check what is available. Here is what you need to know.

Off grid solar system

How to use a complete an off grid solar system

The cost of off grid solar systems is reducing. You can do this yourself. You need a basic understanding of maths and electrics. Each system has four basic components:

  • Solar panel – To be installed on your building roof.
  • Charge controller – These prevent batteries from overcharging.
  • Inverter – To convert DC battery power to the AC power.
  • Battery – Lithium iron batteries are usually the best option.

You’ll also need a few other things. These include copper wire, MC4 connector, meter, breakers and fuses. They are easy to find.

Do all off grid solar systems need batteries?

Yes. every off grid solar system needs specialised off-grid inverters and battery systems. Importantly, these should be large enough to store energy for 2 or more days.

An off grid system is not connected to the national electricity grid. After solar power is used by the appliances in your property, any excess power will be sent to your battery bank. Once the battery is full, it stops receiving power from the solar system. When your solar system is not working (night time or cloudy days), your appliances will draw power from the batteries.

Hybrid grid-connected systems use lower cost hybrid (battery) inverters. These only need a battery large enough to supply energy for 5 to 10 hours (overnight). However, this depending on the needs and application.

The average solar battery provides 12 volts of energy for a certain amount of amp-hours. You need to ascertain out your needs first. Do the calculations.

Can work 24 hours everyday?

Off grid solar systems are designed to work throughout the day and night. However, the sun only shines for part of the day. Hence, it’s not it is not possible to generate solar power for the full 24 hours. However, you can use batteries to store excess energy generated during daytime. Then use this stored power to your electrical appliances at night. Plus, it will keep the lights on.

For times of the year when the batteries are low on charge or the weather is very cloudy, you can consider a backup power source. For example, a backup generator or gen-set. The size of this (measured in kVA) should to be sufficient to supply your house and charge the batteries at the same time.