What is in an Off Grid Solar System?
First, we should start with a fully tested, factory pre-wired Power Center, which includes a complete Inverter / Charge Controller system with all the necessary components properly wired to seamlessly function together. To this we add all the rest of the components to round out a fully functional independent solar electric system.
What equipment completes the whole system?
- Solar Panels
- Storage Batteries
- Power Panel
- Solar Panel Racking and Mounting
- Additional components for Off Grid (i.e. Generator, Well Pump, Appliances Water Filtration etc.)
Solar Modules (solar panels).
Solar Modules take the radiation from the sun and convert it into electricity. When a solar system is properly designed, we first determine the size of battery storage needed for the expected load.
Next, we size the Solar Modules to be able to charge the battery bank typically for 8 to 9 months of the year from solar alone. This is determined by the number of “Sun Hours” at your location.
The few winter months require supplementation by either a Generator, or wind turbine or a hydro turbine. This way you do not have a situation where you have way too much solar in the summer months.
Solar will power hour house during the day but, the sun goes down at night, so you will need a reserve of energy to get your house through the night. That is what your battery bank does. Batteries can also help during days of heavy overcast from clouds.
The Power Center (the heart of the system)
Pre-wired Power Panels (Power Centers) from the Factory are the way to go for many good reasons. They are done right, and they save hours of installation time. They are completely bench tested and warranted by the manufacturer. They come with a complete wiring diagram for easy connection to the other system components.
The equipment includes the Inverter(s) the System Controller / Monitor, Distribution Panel (DC and AC breaker box[s]), Charge Controller(s), Mounting plate and Circuit Breakers
Don’t do-it-yourself. There is nothing worse than planning to wire up your power panel yourself on the weekend only to find you don’t quite understand the factory manual, or worse yet you forgot to get all the required small parts. If it’s the weekend, there’s no tech support to call and if this off-grid you are probably fifty miles down a bad road from the now closed electrical supply house.
You are not going to have any problem with your electrical inspector because it’s a complete factory wired unit.
Other Off Grid Products and Components
The Solar Power System gives you the energy needed for Independent Living, but you will need other equipment suited for Off Grid living like appliances, Water Pumps, Storage Tanks, Water Filters, A Back-up Generator
Solar Module Mounting and Racking
There are several ways to mount your solar modules. Most pictures show panels mounted on a roof and, this may be the only choice for urban areas, with small yards. I am not fond of putting holes in a roof, if it is not necessary. Also, most houses are not oriented to “Solar South” which can greatly compromise the Solar Panel output.
Off Grid is typically in “the country” where you have plenty of room to choose the best solar gain location. In these instances, a customized pole mount or a locally welded rack would make the most sense.