When people think of the term “going off-the-grid,” they probably assume that it’s referring to ditching your cell phone and other modern technology and going to live on an island somewhere. While that sounds like a lot of fun, the phrase “off-the-grid” can also be used to refer to solar power; chiefly, solar conversion. Solar conversion has a lot of benefits, particularly in a warmer climate such as Florida. For off-the-grid residential models, there are also many benefits to solar conversion and things to consider if you’re thinking about doing so. In this article, we’ll discuss steps for solar conversion, as well as considerations for those looking to live in an off-the-grid residential model.
First, what is solar conversion?
Solar conversion is pretty much how it sounds; it converts sunlight into electricity. Usually, a silicon semiconductor is used. Light hits these semiconductors and electrons begin to flow, generating electricity. Solar power uses this process as an alternative to other energy sources. Grid-connected solar models are not what we’re talking about in this article, although those are popular. On-the-grid solar models are linked to a utility power infrastructure. These systems are used in tandem with a power company, so when there isn’t enough sunlight to produce electricity, electricity can be purchased from a utility company to fulfill their power needs. Many buildings, both residential and commercial, take advantage of this plan. Off-the-grid solar models, or “standalone” models, are also used frequently, especially in cases of remote locations that don’t have a commercial connection to the grid as well as in emergency power-outage cases.
Benefits to off-the-grid solar conversion
Off-the-grid solar conversion requires batteries that can store the electricity that the solar power generates; this way, even if there isn’t sunlight outside, this power can be used anyway and you will not be left stranded with any electricity. The batteries will provide the stored electricity until the sunlight flow is stronger. A major benefit to living off-the-grid is that even if there is a widespread power outage, you’ll still have power and electricity. Solar power that is tied to a grid is shut off in the event of an outage for safety reasons. But if you’re off the grid, you’re good to power on.
Considerations for living off-the-grid
Whether you want to live in a standalone solar power residence depends upon whether or not it is the right decision for your home. The batteries require a lot of room to store, and they are expensive to purchase. A residential home might not have the space needed to house these batteries. Also, off-the-grid solar residences cannot take advantage of the Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, which is a tax incentive that is received by solar energy users whose solar-generated electricity flows back to a utility grid (which off-the-grid solar power systems cannot). Solar Renewable Energy Credits are tradeable commodities. These credits aim to increase the percentage of renewable energy that is produced in a given state. SRECs are sold separately from electricity, as they are the aspect of electricity that was produced through solar power. SRECs are vulnerable to the market, however, and supply and demand constraints apply.
Going off-the-grid can have many benefits for you as a homeowner. But there are some considerations to keep in mind before deciding to undergo a residential solar conversion. Make sure that your residence has enough space to store the batteries and that you are able to purchase them. Also, remember that you will not be able to receive a tax credit for your solar energy because you’re unconnected to a commercial grid. Off-the-grid solar power is beneficial if you live in an area with frequent power outages, however, because your electricity will stay on even if everyone around you goes dark. Consulting with a professional, such as Bob Heinmiller Solar, a reputable Central Florida solar company, can aid you in making the right decision for your home.
Lautaro Martinez, a freelance writer and solar energy enthusiast enjoys sharing with is audience the brighter side to solar energy. If you would like to learn more about Lautaro, you can check out his google+ profile.