How much does an Off Grid Solar System Cost? As energy costs rise and concerns about the environment grow, homeowners are seeking their own energy solutions. Many homeowners have started installing solar panels in an attempt to go “off-grid” and reduce their dependence on traditional electricity. Going completely off-grid or creating a stand-alone power system involves more than just installing solar panels. Those who accomplish it, though, completely untether their homes from the standard electrical power grid.
off grid solar system packages
The cost to install an off-grid solar system varies based on your home’s location and the amount of electricity you use each day. The standard home uses a minimum of 7 kW of electricity per day, which could require a system of six panels and three batteries. This system ranges from $30,000 to $60,000 to install before tax credits or rebates, with most homeowners spending around $50,000 total on the project.
Off Grid Solar System Cost
|Off-Grid Solar System Costs|
|National average cost||$50,000|
|Average range||$30,000- $60,000|
What Is an Off-grid Solar System?
An off-grid solar system is a multipart setup used to produce energy for homes or businesses. The system is designed to harness the sun’s energy using solar panels, which are mounted on the roof, a pole near the home, or both. The energy harnessed by the panels is used to charge batteries via a charge controller, and the batteries store the energy until needed. An inverter then converts the charge from the batteries into the electricity that powers your home.
What Does It Mean to Go Off-grid?
Many people use solar panels to offset the cost of electricity, but this does not mean that they have gone off-grid. Using solar energy to offset energy costs means that you are still connected to the local power supply and can use it if you need more energy than your panels produce.
To go completely off-grid, your entire home has to run on electricity or energy that you produce yourself using solar panels and batteries. Your home cannot utilize any electricity from the town power supply. Simply installing solar panels is not enough to be considered off-grid, and most people who use solar energy still rely on electricity from an outside source. To go completely off-grid, you also need a storage system to smooth out the production and usage of energy over time. Finally, you need a way to transfer the energy into the batteries and convert it into electricity.
Pros and Cons of Off-grid Solar Systems
Like any project, installing an off-grid solar system has positives and negatives to consider. Off-grid solar systems have high start-up costs, for example, but tax rebates and credits are available that can lower the overall cost. These systems can also eliminate your monthly electric bill, saving money long-term. Furthermore, while traditional energy costs continue to rise, your system’s costs would remain constant, making budgeting easier.
If you live or want to build in a rural area where electrical lines do not reach, an off-grid solar system allows you to have many modern amenities in your home that would be impossible without electricity.
Going off-grid can also be better for the environment because many areas use fossil fuels to produce their electricity, contributing to climate change.
On the other hand, going off-grid means anticipating all potential electricity needs ahead of time and making sure that your system can handle them. Electricity needs can fluctuate throughout the year. This means that you may have to install a larger, costlier system than you originally planned for.
If you go off-grid for electricity, you may still have other utilities connected to the grid. If you eliminate those as well, you may find that you have higher insurance costs or that your home is no longer insurable. You should speak to your home insurance agent to find out more before you begin going off-grid.
Off-grid Solar Power Components Costs
Going completely off-grid means adding several components to your system to make sure it functions as needed.
Solar panels make up the bulk of your off-grid system costs. This is the component that harnesses the sun’s energy and starts the production of your electricity. The number of panels, number of cells, and type of cells vary depending on your location and your needs. Expect to pay around $14,000 just for the panels.
The batteries are what make it possible for a home to go off-grid. They collect excess energy that you are not currently using and store it for later. This stored energy powers your home at night and when the sun’s energy is insufficient. Batteries cost between $5,000 – $7,000 each, and you need two to four batteries to complete your system.
The inverter converts solar energy into the electricity that you use to power your home. The required type, size, and number of inverters depend on the number of panels, number of batteries, and amount of electricity you need. Costs start at around $3,000 but can go much higher depending on usage.
Solar Charge Controller
The solar charge controller charges up your batteries. Each battery needs its own controller, with costs starting at around $550 each.
Alternative Energy Source
Prolonged periods of insufficient sunlight or other issues may cause your system to fail, so you need a backup or alternative energy source. Some people like to install hydro or wind turbines, which cost between $6,000 and $11,000. Others prefer to use a backup generator, which can be powered by propane and costs around $4,500 to $9,000.
Off-grid Solar Systems Calculator
Many factors go into figuring out the type and size of the system needed to go completely off-grid. These include your location, how much sunlight you have, the size of your home, and your average energy usage.
Keep in mind that your daily energy usage varies depending on the time of year. For example, your daily usage in March may look different than in July, when you have an air conditioner running.
Therefore, calculate your total energy usage to establish the size and number of panels you need. Also, factor in your location. This solar calculator from Energy Sage helps you determine your solar energy requirements. Once you decide on the number of kilowatts needed per day, then you can calculate the number of panels and batteries you require.
Labor Costs to Install an Off-grid System
Labor costs make up a large percentage of the total cost to install an off-grid system. The cost to map out the best position for the panels, install the panels and batteries, connect the various components, and get the system up and running comes out to about 10% of the system’s complete cost. For a $50,000 system, the labor portion is usually around $5,000. Many companies, however, roll labor costs into the overall package rather than pricing it out separately.
Labor costs vary depending on several things. These include the general layout or setup; whether your roof requires additional reinforcement to support the panels; what type of pole or other apparatus you have for mounting the panels; and the total size of the project.
On-grid vs Off-grid Solar Systems
Most of the home solar systems currently installed are considered on-grid. These systems offset traditional electricity usage but do not replace it. With an on-grid system, you remain connected to your local utility company. Your system may or may not have batteries. When the system is unable to meet the electricity demands of your household, you use purchased electricity.
With an off-grid solar system, your home’s electricity is completely dependent on the power you produce. When you disconnect your home from the local power grid, you likely need some other backup power, such as a generator, in case of an emergency.
On-grid systems are usually less expensive. Most people spend around $18,000 – $20,000 for an on-grid solar panel system versus the $50,000 it costs to go entirely off-grid.
Maintaining Your Off-grid Solar System
Once they are installed, off-grid solar systems are fairly easy to maintain. They need to be kept clean, and the batteries, inverters, and controllers must be replaced every 5 to 11 years. The body itself only needs to be cleaned once every few years. Scheduling a checkup once every 3 years and replacing the parts as needed is all that is necessary to keep it running properly.
Ideal Candidates for Solar Energy
Not every home is right for solar energy. Some homes may be too shady, or the climate may not be ideal, making the installation and system costs prohibitively expensive. The ideal candidates would have good sun exposure and above-average energy needs. They would also have occupants who intend to stay in the home long enough to see the financial benefits of reduced or eliminated energy bills.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Your batteries will last between 5 and 11 years on average, and you want to keep an eye on how much they are holding so that you know when to replace them. A battery monitor keeps track of the battery’s health so that you will not be caught unaware. They cost around $100 on average.
If you live in a lightning-prone area, you need to install a surge suppressor on your system. If a lightning strike occurs, solar systems can get easily overwhelmed and malfunction. A suppressor grounds the excess energy so that the system will not overload. Suppressor costs start at around $1,000.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Even if you are unable to go completely off-grid, you can still benefit from installing solar panels. The technology becomes cheaper every year. Zero-down loans are available so that you start saving on electric bills right away even as you pay off the loan. Tax rebates and credits are also available to offset the cost.
- If you live in an area that is prone to power outages or failures, going off-grid can be beneficial.
- Many brands offer off-grid packages, which makes it hard to choose. These brands include ECO-WORTHY, WindyNation, ECO LLC, and Renogy.
- Not every off-grid system has the same warranty. Check with the manufacturers to find out their warranty policies.
- Care and maintenance for each system varies by manufacturer as well. Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines for best practices.
- You may need a permit for this project, depending on where you live. Check with your local government for more information.