Is it right for me? Everything you need to know about going off-grid.

Installing an off-grid system is a big step, and can be a good move if you live in a remote area. Here’s what to consider, the benefits and expert tips for installing an off-grid system.

With solar panels and solar batteries cheaper than ever, it’s more possible than ever before to go off-grid.

For homes that are already on the grid, going off-grid may not make financial sense, but for remote homes that aren’t yet connected, installing an off-grid system could be the right answer to multiple issues.

1. It can save you money, or cost you

Going off-grid is great if you want to provide your own electricity without relying on energy companies. Being independent from energy companies also means you won’t receive a bill and won’t pay for the electricity poles and wires that connect power to homes and businesses (daily charges) or for electricity usage. Instead, your energy costs are what you spend to purchase, install, and maintain your off-grid system (that needs to produce and store enough power to cover all your needs, and cover your maximum usage at any given point in time). 

If you’re in a remote or regional area, and your home is not connected to the grid, installing an off-grid system also means you can avoid paying expensive grid connection fees (connecting you to poles and wires, sometimes not easily accessible or nearby).

However, it’s important to note that if you already have a connection to the grid, it’s unlikely to be cheaper to take your home off-grid. 

2. Your energy supply could become less flexible

To go off-grid, you need solar panels, wind turbines, or another way to produce enough electricity every day. And you need a battery system to store whatever you’ll need overnight, on still days or at times when your electricity needs exceed the power you can produce at the time (for example if you want to run multiple high-energy appliances simultaneously, such as a dishwasher and an air conditioner). An off-grid system can only supply a certain amount of electricity at a time; if you suddenly need more than the system’s capacity to produce and store, you will need a backup generator (and its capacity also has limits). 

The best way to strike this balance, is to reduce your electricity usage through more efficient appliances, and to be more mindful about how and when you use electricity. 

Running an off-grid system is a big responsibility, you’ll need to maintain and manage your system yourself, and if part of it breaks down you might have little or no power until it’s fixed. Prepare by knowing how you’ll manage without essentials like a fridge or a cooktop if that happens.

3. Your situation could change in the future

While having an off-grid system could suit you now, your household situation could change. In the future you might grow your family, start working from home, add a pool or get an electric car, and this could impact your ability to power your property off-grid. You’ll need to consider what these changes could mean for your electricity generation and use. 

If you’re hoping to sell your home one day, you’ll also want to consider resale value. An off-grid home may attract some buyers and discourage others – consider the potential buying market for when you come to sell your home. 

Finally, if you were to need medical equipment that runs off electricity in the future, you should carefully consider the need for uninterrupted power – the risks of going off-grid may be greater for you. 

If you consider these tips, you’ll balance the costs and benefits of going off grid. 

Installing an off-grid system needs to be carefully considered, based on your individual home and your household’s needs. The good news is that many expert suppliers of off-grid systems will give you clear information about how to safely use, maintain and get the most out of your system.

For a detailed, step-by-step guide on installing an off-grid system, how to find a good installer and the questions to ask at each stage, check out the ‘Plug In to going off-grid’ fact sheet.

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