The idea of off grid living appeals to many people, and as energy costs continue to rise, makes more and more sense. Disconnecting from the power grid and producing 100% of your own electricity is now very possible. Many homeowners can generate their own power using either wind turbines or solar panels and can accommodate most, if not all of their power needs if these systems are sized correctly. Being able to generate at least some of your own power enables you to take a small step towards an off grid living lifestyle.
Solar power represents a very good option for powering many homes and will work all over the world, and even under very harsh and remote conditions. All it requires to operate is a bit of hardware, and plenty of sunlight. A solar panel system can be as large or small as you need and can also be built to be portable if your living arrangements are mobile. These solar power systems are very durable and will last 20+ years if cared for properly.
A basic system consists of a collection of solar panels that are connected together and exposed to sun. In the northern hemisphere they need to be facing south for best results. Some panels are built to rotate so they are always pointed directly at the sun as the sun moves across the sky, but with modern panels it is less important to ensure that the panels are pointed directly at the sun. If the panels are pointed south and at the proper vertical angle, stationary panels work quite well. These solar cells will produce a DC current and this can either be used to charge a bank of batteries, or used to power any DC appliance or light directly. The use of the batteries allows you to save power for later in the evening that you can use at night after the sun sets. If you need to power standard AC appliances or want to use the solar system to send power through your home’s wiring, you’ll need to install a device called a power inverter. This unit will convert the DC current from the solar panels or batteries into AC current that the appliances in your home can use.
In addition to a solar panel system, you can also install a wind turbine that will enable you to generate the power you need. These modern wind turbines are relatively small and efficient, and can be easily mounted to a pole or the roof of your home and will provide a good amount of power from even a light wind. A wind turbine has the advantage of being able to generate power day or night as long as the wind is blowing. You can use a wind turbine system in conjunction with a solar power system, or as a single power source. It will generate DC current like the solar power system that can be used directly or converted to AC if needed with an inverter. If you do decide to install a solar power system, both of these alternative energy solutions can use the same inverter for converting DC power to AC.
Either of these alternative energy solutions will enable you to disconnect from the power grid by generating enough power from the sun or wind to keep your home running. This can be your first step on the road to off grid living.