That electric bill you get each month in the mail is a stark reminder that you’ll be paying the bill for a very long time unless you make a change in where you get your power from. Solar power can be used to supplement electrical power, but can it be used to completely replace it and get you off the grid?
That’s the question a lot of homeowners have when they start looking into setting up solar panels for their home. They may not just be looking for a way to supplement their home’s power supply but completely replace it with renewable, environmentally friendly solar power.
The Power Problem
The biggest issue that homeowners run into with this notion is just simply sourcing enough power from solar panels to fully supply all their home’s power needs. For a large family with a lot of power usage, it may not be possible to completely replace all their electrical power needs with solar power. You have to consider the home’s heating and cooling needs, the power to run appliances, power phone chargers, keep lights going, activate water pumps, and much more. All of those devices, appliances, and outlets in the home drain energy that needs to be met from somewhere.
A basic, conventional solar panel setup probably won’t be enough for the average home’s power needs. In order to completely replace the power supply for the home with solar energy, you may need a very large solar panel setup. You may also need to reduce power consumption in the home, by using electronics less often, getting rid of some of the larger appliances, and using natural heating and cooling methods. These are just some ideas for how you can make a total power conversion plan work, but implementing it will be different and unique for each home.
In some cases, it simply won’t be feasible because of the extensive power needs or because of the high cost of total power conversion.
The Stored Power Solution
There is some modern solar technology that could be a solution to this issue. That would be solar power storage, which keeps excess solar power stored away in a battery until it is needed. Without that storage battery, your home will simply use solar power as it receives it. So, if you are trying to use solar power at night, you won’t have anything to draw from. During overcast days or during the winter, your solar power supply can be erratic or nonexistent, depending on the quality of the solar power setup you have. This is why anyone trying to completely convert their home’s power supply to solar and get off the grid will often have some form of power storage available to them. There is no other way to keep a constant flow of energy available when it is needed.
To make this work, you will need to have an appropriate size battery that can handle the storage and power needs of your home. You may even want several batteries so that you are not losing out on any potential power.
The Power Issue
However, you still run into the problem of a lack of solar energy. Where you live plays a big part in how much power is sent to the solar panels and into your home. Some parts of the country regularly receive less sunlight than others. The time of year factors in as well, as the winter can be quite overcast and not as sunny as other times of the year. You may struggle to get enough solar power to run your home off the grid at that time, especially if you are trying to use solar power to heat your home and keep the temperature inside comfortable.
That’s why you may want to not cut yourself off the grid completely. You may still want the option to access the electricity grid when it is necessary, drawing power from it to supplement the solar power you are using. Even with battery storage, you may have difficulty in getting adequate power for your home. It’s not always possible to plan out your power needs precisely and expect the solar power to handle everything for you. Unexpected power needs will arise from time to time, and you want to have the option to get power from somewhere when that happens.
The Money Problem
Solar power can be expensive at first. Paying for the solar power system, having it installed, and then buying additional storage or panels as necessary to meet your power needs- all of that adds up. You may have to cut your budget just to handle those costs, even if you can save money in the long run.
Keep in mind that you likely will save a lot of money on power costs after a while. Solar power systems can pay for themselves, but it may take a few years. If you are looking forward to being able to afford to pay for a cleaning service to clear your residence or pay for new streaming services with the money you save by switching to solar, you may have to wait a while. That upfront cost can be unexpectedly high, but then you will start to benefit from reduced electric bills over time.
That saving adds up as well, though you may never get complete freedom from the power grid. After a while, you might get used to using solar power and relying on it for everything you need. Once you get there and learn how to acclimate to reduced power usage and conserve energy with battery storage, you may be able to disconnect from the power grid. However, it’s not advisable to simply switch over completely from the grid to solar power. You probably won’t realize how much power you use and how little your solar power system will provide at the start for you.