There has been a huge rise in the popularity of off-grid solar panel systems recently mainly because of an incredible leap in-home battery storage technology. However, once you start searching for the right off-grid solar panel for your home, you realize that there are many factors you need to take into account and that the general public has little understanding of the various solar/battery storage capabilities and limitations.
Although experienced off-grid solar panel installers may give you useful information and advice, you still need to do in-depth research to find out which off-grid solar panel system meets your requirements the best.
To help you find what you need, we did thorough research into off-grid solar systems. Today, we are going to show you how you can find what you are looking for by answering some of the most common questions and guiding you through the essential steps you need to take.
So, let’s dive right in.
1. Do an In-depth Research of How Off-grid Solar Panels Function
An off-grid system requires battery storage because it is not connected to the electricity grid. One of the most important things when it comes to installing an off-grid solar system is to pay close attention to its design because it will determine how much power it will generate throughout the year as well as the battery capacity.
These solar panels are more needed in more remote areas which are far from the electricity grid. In addition, the off-grid solar battery systems market is growing rapidly even in urban areas.
In its core, off-grid solar system works by generating electricity from solar panels and using it to charge a solar battery via a charger controller. The inverter then converts that electricity and it powers the home or home appliances. In this way, you can run home with solar energy even during times when there is less sun exposure.
Every off-grid solar system requires the following components:
- The battery bank – since you don’t have access to public electricity grid when using an off-grid solar system, you will need a battery bank. Once solar power is used by a variety of appliances, any excess power will be sent to your battery bank. In other words, when your solar system stops working, it will start drawing power from the batteries.
- Backup Generator – When the weather is cloudy and there is not much sun power you could use to charge your batteries, you will need a backup power source such as gen-set or a backup generator.
- Solar battery – a solar battery is an essential component because it provides the home with energy even when the sun goes down.
- Solar Inverter – sometimes referred to as solar converter or PV inverter, solar inverter is primarily used to convert the direct current (DC) collected by solar panel array into alternating current for running most of household appliances, and electronics. When it comes to using an off-grid solar system, a stand-alone inverter is the right choice.
- Solar Charge Controller – In order to save the battery, you need to have a solar battery charger. Also, this charger regulates the voltage and the current that the solar battery receives which prevents the battery damage.
- Solar panels – naturally, this off-grid structure would not make much sense without solar panels. The size and production capabilities of solar panels will largely depend on the amount of sunlight in the area where you plan to install off-grid solar panels, energy consumption needs and finally, the usable space of the roof.
- Battery Monitor – Battery monitor provides you with essential information regarding your battery bank but not all off-grid solar panels have one. A good-quality battery monitor is rather inexpensive and can provide you with critical information such as charge status of your battery bank, maintenance and troubleshooting information, etc.
Here are some other things you will need when installing off-grid solar panels or for its maintenance:
- Remote temperature sensor
- DC breakers
- PV combiner box
- Battery cables
- AC breaker panel
- Solar Panel Cables (MC3 and MC4 cables)
- Gadgets and other small electrical items you may want
Typical off-grid solar systems are used in remote areas which are not connected to the local utility grid or in the areas where grid power is not consistent.
A few examples of these places include the following:
- Developing countries
- Plain communities
- Off-grid homes or lodges
- Hunting cabins
- Rural area power needs such as water pumping
- Many more
Advantages of off-grid solar systems:
Choosing off-grid solar systems for your home has a number of benefits and definitely stands out from the rest of solar panels especially when the power is out. One of the biggest and most important advantages of these solar systems is that they convert light from the sun into a complete and usable energy for houses which provides you with a clean supply of energy or your home. Other benefits include:
- The off-grid solar system design is suitable for energy storage which can later be used as a backup power.
- This system is highly cost-efficient
- Like wind turbines and geothermal power sources, these systems can minimize carbon footprint. In other words, they are environmentally friendly
- The stored energy is ready for potential disasters, so you will always have that added protection
- By choosing these solar panels you will be actually saving money in the long-run as you will have to pay low rates on a month-to-month basis
- It’s an easy alternative for rural areas because you won’t have to pay that extra money to connect to anything. You will be able to control your own power and you’ll be able to live almost anywhere you like
- Off-grid solar panel systems provide a much easier installation because the light can be located where it is required. While with traditional grids where you have to use the existing poles and infrastructure to put the power where you need it, you can install off-grid solar panels almost anywhere you want.
2. Fully Understand Your Own Power Use Habits
To make the best of your off-grid solar system you need to consider all the adjustments you will need to make prior to using an off-grid solar panel. You need to determine electricity consumption, especially during dark cold winter days and nights when power production is minimal and the energy consumption is at the highest level.
By using off-grid solar panels, you stop being dependent on the electrical utility, because this system provides all of your power. That’s why these systems are generally larger than grid-ties. On top of that, a system must have a large wind generator or an array of solar panels as well as a greater battery storage capacity than in the applications where grid power is available.
3. Size an Off-Grid Solar System
Off-grid solar panel systems are used mainly to power the industrial applications such as lighting, sensors, environmental monitors, security cameras, water pumps, traffic signals and many others that require reliable power in remote areas.
Before starting this journey, you need to carefully size a system based on a given location and energy requirements. We’ll guide you through a few essential steps you need to take to size your system.
- Determine energy requirements
The first thing you need to do is find out how much energy the equipment uses on a daily basis and this is measured in watt-hours and kilowatt-hours. To find out this information, you need to check the manual, discover how much power it consumes and then multiply it by the number of operating hours per day. The inverter is also a very important component as it produces AC power. Remember to account for inverter-s self-consumption and efficiency losses. Efficiency losses usually range from 5% to 15% depending on the type of the inverter which is another thing that should be taken into account when sizing the batteries.
2. Evaluate site location
In order to estimate the available energy, you need to carefully determine where the system will be installed. You can use a ‘sun hours map’ to estimate available PV resources. Be mindful that you should size the system based on the month which has the highest power consumption and the lowest solar resource, typically December or January. The easiest way to find the map is to visit the website of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and determine available solar energy based on the location. For example, most countries in US have fairly low solar insolation in January. Also, keep in mind that solar panels should be installed in full sun. Since shading can have an adverse effect on solar panels in general, make sure you inspect the site to see if there is shade somewhere and also keep in mind that the sun’s angle will change throughout the day.
3. Calculate battery bank size
This information should allow us to calculate and size the battery bank. Then we can determine how much solar power is required to keep it charged. First, you need to account for the inefficiency of the inverter. Then, you need to consider the effects of the temperature on the battery’s capacity to deliver energy. Also, account for the efficiency loss when charging and discharging batteries. In most cases, the battery bak size will increase due to factors including temperature and a number of days of required autonomy. Also, when sizing the battery always consider the discharge depth, that is how much capacity is discharged from the battery. In other words, sizing a lead-acid battery for a maximum 50% depth of discharge will extend the battery’s life. On the other hand, lithium batteries are not equally affected by deep discharges and do not drastically affect battery life. In order to make the entire system more reliable, you need to increase the battery size, especially in the areas prone to extended overcast weather.
4. Calculate how many solar panels you need
Now it’s time to size the charging system. Although normally, most people would use solar panels, sometimes using a combination of wind and solar might make more sense, especially in the areas with good wind resources. The charging system must produce enough energy so that it can fully replace the energy drawn out of the batteries. When calculating, you need to take into account real-world losses caused mainly by inefficiencies, aging, module soiling, and voltage drop.
Another thing that should be taken into consideration is the battery capacity. Before choosing your solar panel, refer to the battery specs as well as a user manual to see and confirm the minimum and maximum charging guidelines. If you fail to follow these guidelines, you risk premature battery failure which is the last thing you want because buying a solar panel system is a big investment.
Apart from the things we have discussed here, there are many other factors that can influence the system size. If you want to reduce system size, there are also other alternatives such as incorporating a backup gas generator or even a wind generator.
Finally, if you are planning to install the system in a remote area and if the equipment is critical, you should consider oversizing it, because, eventually, the cost of maintenance will exceed the price of a few extra solar panels. On the other hand, if you are planning to power certain apps, you may want to start small and then expand depending on how it performs. It’s all up to you to decide. Generally, system size will eventually be determined by your energy consumption, the site location and also the expectations for performance based on days of autonomy.
Correctly sizing your power needs is probably the most important step when choosing your off-grid solar panel. Why? Because it will determine how much money and time you will have to invest into its installation. In other words, the number of your solar panels and the size of your battery will largely depend on your location, power usage, how many people are living in your home and the efficiency of your electrical appliances. One of the ways to do this is to arrange for a consultation with a professional solar panel installer as they will provide you with a comprehensive analysis and all the necessary information you need. For example, for an average home or four or five people, a five-kilowatt solar system is usually recommended. However, to be sure that you are making the right decision it’s always better to consult a professional and let them accurately size your solar system.
4. Understand the Material
Another important criteria when making this decision is the type of solar panels. All solar panels have different types and knowing them will help you make your decision and not get confused when supplier mentions them. Here are a few essential categories of off-grid solar panels.
- Monocrystalline – These solar panels can absorb a large amount of solar energy which automatically gives them a higher power output. They are particularly good homes which have roofs with less space and them most certainly eliminate the space wastage.
- Polycrystalline or Multicrystalline – these solar panels are made of purified and molded crystal bars. When compared to monocrystalline, these solar panels are unquestionably less expensive and more popular among the users.
- Amorphous – these solar panels are made of thin film silicon cells which respond well to slightly diffused light.
Each of these solar panels have their advantages. However, the location where solar panel will be installed should also be considered. For example, Monocrystalline and Amorphous solar panels are more suitable for areas where there is strong uninterrupted sunlight most of the year.
5. Choose a Battery
Choosing the battery for your off-grid solar system is a critical point in your decision-making process. One of the biggest benefits of using off-grid solar system is the independence you have from utility companies and the ability to use your own electricity. However, this won’t be possible without an appropriate battery for your application. Here are some important things you need to know when choosing your battery.
First and the most important thing you need to keep in mind is that renewable energy systems like off-grid solar panel systems require deep-cycle batteries – batteries that discharge very low over a longer period of time.
So, what makes solar batteries different from other batteries on the market? There are two types of renewable energy batteries today on the market:
- Flooded lead-acid batteries – these batteries are mostly chosen by the owners of off-grid solar panels because their price is pretty affordable. On top of that, they tend to last longer because they are regularly serviced and cleaned which prolongs their life-span considerably.
- Sealed valve regulated acid (VRLA) batteries – unlike the flooded batteries, these batteries are sealed and made of a lead composition. What makes them so special is the fact they do not need physical maintenance. If you have a good battery charger, you will not have to worry about their inner plates and fluids as the charger will significantly extend the battery’s life.
However, before choosing between these two types of batteries, think about where they will be located as well as whether you will have enough time and will to regularly add liquids and check battery levels, which flooded batteries require.
Once you have decided which battery to choose, you need to think about how to size your battery bank. To do this you need to have a clear understanding of how batteries are rated as well as their life-span. Batteries are rated in amp-hours.
For example, a battery rated at 100 amp-hours means that it can put out 1 amp of electricity for 100 hours. Its lifespan largely depends on the depth-of-discharge (how low the battery is drained) as well as its cycle-life (one cycle-life equals to a fully charged battery draining down below 30%).
Be mindful that it is always better not to drain the battery below 25% because it will have a positive impact on its life-span. In other words, don’t use over 25% of their total potential because, in that way, your battery will last longer.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should never mix and match old and new batteries, nor you should combine the batteries of different capacity and type. Also, make sure you don’t add batteries that are older than six months to your battery bank.
Choosing an off-grid solar panel is a good investment, but it does not make sense if you do not do a thorough research of all the necessary components. When choosing your battery, you should never sacrifice quality for a cheaper product.
Instead, buy batteries that will last many years and that will pay off. Any reputable company you decide to buy your batteries from will have all the documents and specifications that will help you size your battery bank.
6. Choose Your Off-grid Solar Inverter Core
An off-grid solar inverter takes DC power from your solar panels and converts it into AC power which is then used by your home applications like fridge, lights, TV and other appliances. An off-grid inverter requires a battery bank to function. It is more complex because it has additional components such as the charge controller and battery monitor.
When picking the off-grid inverter that will perfectly suit your needs, you need to:
- Think about size – Think about how much power you need by adding up wattage of all of your lights and appliances to calculate the number of watts. However, don’t forget to calculate the voltage – while most appliances run on 120Vac, some appliances such as well pumps require 240Vac.
- Check the specifics – each inverter has its own specific you need to check prior to buying your inverter such as:
- Efficiency – this refers to how much power from the batteries your inverter delivers to your home when operating in perfect conditions. An efficiency that is considered good is around 94% to 96%.
- Self-consumption – this refers to the energy your inverter will use up by just sitting there without being used.
- Battery charge output – Since most off-grid inverters will have their own battery charger whose role is to power batteries during cold winter months, you should look for battery chargers that have a rating in the range of 50-100 amps DC.
- Warranty – to be certain that your off-grid inverter will have a longer life-span you need to check the inverters warranty. While most installers offer warranty that start at one year and typically range from 3 to 5 years, there are some companies that offer a 10 year warranty extension option.
Besides its primal function to deliver electricity to a solar panel, inverters have many other functions such as:
-providing options for extra tools and services including system design engineering, data monitoring advanced utility controls, applications as well as a host of other different services. All of this has one aim – to ensure that an inverter can operate at an optimal performance level. In order to get maximum performance of your inverter, you need to keep them running as efficiently and reliably as possible. There are a few factors you need to consider when choosing your off-grid solar inverter:
- They need to be highly reliable
- They need to offer ongoing data monitoring
- They need to offer preventive maintenance
- They need to offer operation and maintenance services
- They need to have a proven and bankable warranty
The good thing about off-grid solar inverters is that they are already multi-taskers, This means that they are a combination of inverters and chargers and that they have bi-directional energy capabilities to convert DC to AC and vice versa. This allows off-grid inverters to simultaneously manage PV or other energy resources and maintain battery storage. The difference between off-grid and on-grid solar systems made it easy to categorize solar inverters into two separate classes with little or no overlap between them.
Here are some of the most common off-grid solar inverter sizes :
- 1kW – these inverters are ideal for small, part-time cabins as well as for smaller appliances like phone, and lights.
- 1-2kW – these inverters also ideal for smaller cabins, more specifically for appliances like lights, phone, TV and fridge
- 2-4kW – Ideal for small cabins and homes
- 4-8kW – besides homes, these solar inverters are ideal for powering most residential well pumps
- 8-16kW – These inverts are ideal for homes, farms, ranches and smaller commercial buildings
- 16kW – these solar inverters are ideal for commercial buildings and large homes
Multi-talented hybrid inverters will start gaining more popularity and eventually become more standard at the center of energy systems. Features previously considered the exclusive territory of off-grid inverters will become increasingly common in grid-tied systems.
Check out some of the most popular off-grid inverters on today’s market:
- Selectronic SP Pro Series (Australia) – this off-grid solar inverter outperforms all other inverters. It is advanced management software 63A (15 kW) pass through power capability and high charge ratings that put this type of the inverter into a league of its own. Although they are one of the most expensive options, they are worth the money because their performance is outstanding and they are extremely reliable. Apart from having impressive features, these solar inverters also offer a 7 year warranty which is why they are in the top ranks.
Here are some of its highlights:
-very high surge power output
-unique pre-charge feature for safer startup
-battery temperature monitoring for longer battery life
-compatible with many lithium battery systems
-very powerful and user-friendly software package with remote access monitoring
-very high pass through power capability
- Victron Energy Multiplus or Quattro (Netherlands) – this is a high-quality manufacturer from Netherlands which offers a wide product range including battery chargers, sine wave inverters, inverters chargers, DC/DC converters, transfer switches, battery monitors, charge controllers and many more. This brand gives you ability to choose from a wide range of multi-mode inverters and sizes including MultiPlus II. The best part is that this type of solar inverter is highly affordable and a great quality option.
Check out some of the best features:
-Generator auto-start and monitoring available
-Economical Inverter/Charger available
-Battery temperature monitoring for longer battery life
-Programmable software with remote access and wifi App
-Pass through power capability
-Dual AC outputs for non-essential loads (high-power units only)
- SMA – Sunny Island Series (Germany) – This is a leading solar inverter manufacturer which gained its popularity and has been recognised as a proven performer, particularly in harsh environments and bad weather. It has the following features:
-Dual AC inputs
-AC / DC coupling capability
– high pass through power capability
– generator auto-start and monitoring
– High surge power output
-3-phase capability + parallel for higher output
7. Choose Your Off-Grid Solar Charge Controller
In order to choose the best off-grid charge controller, you need to understand well how a controller works. Basically, an off-grid charge controller takes the energy collected by your solar panels and send it to a battery bank where this energy is stored. In other words, charge controllers control the charge. Your controller will both ensure that your battery receives the most energy from the panels and that they never become overcharged.
If you do not know what size of charge controller you need, you can either use one of the calculators you can find online or simply consult online or telephone support to help you make the best decision when it comes to the size and voltage of your controller.
There are three types of controllers: PWM, MPPT and Chunt Charge Controllers
PWM (pulse width modulators) – a basic type of a controller that can be found easily on the market and at very cheap prices. These are standard type of controllers. Once the battery is full, the controller utilises the “trickle effect” by allowing only small amounts of current to flow into batteries. If there is a constant supply of energy, then PWM controllers can indefinitely maintain the battery’s charge full. In order to use this type of a controller, you need to ensure that your solar panel and your battery has the same voltage. Since in most homes solar panels and the battery usually have different voltages, these controllers are ideal for smaller solar systems using lower voltages.
MPPT (maximum power point tracking) controller – a much more advanced type of a controller that offers a wide array of functions and it is much more common on the market. It will prolong your battery life and take the maximum amount of energy and deliver it to your battery bank. On top of this, this type of controllers allow you to pair solar panels and batteries with different voltages and they are highly sophisticated. In other words, they regulate the current flowing into the batteries by allowing much higher voltages into the wires from solar panels. It also allows solar panels to operate optimally at all times because it prevents reverse flow of energy from the batteries to the panels when there is no more solar energy supply. These types of controllers are especially efficient when you want to use higher voltage panels to charge lower voltage batteries.
Shunt Charge Controllers
This type of a controller has simple on off controls and are extremely easy to work with. They allow the maximum amount of current to flow in through a blocking diode. In this way, it automatically switches on once the threshold voltage is reached. This prevents the battery from getting further charged. The controller will regulate the array of current flowing in until the full charge. Besides being extremely practical and easy to use, they are also very affordable and reliable. In addition, they are an excellent choice for wireless applications where you want to keep electrical noise at the minimum.
When choosing your controller, there are a few steps you need to take to make sure you have chosen the right one. You can either Use the manufacturer’s sizing tools that are usually offered on their site, or simply call them.
Although there are many models on today’s market, there are a few parameters that you would need to consider if you want to find a controller that fits your needs. Check out the features that are available on most charge controllers (naturally, the best controllers will have most of these features):
-solar, wind and hydro MPPT modes
-Online status monitoring
-12-72 volt battery charge
-built in GFP and arc fault
-Hyper VOC extend VOC limits
-150, 200, 250, 600 V
-manual and auto EQ
-Low-voltage disconnect (LVD) – disconnecting the loads plugged in case of low battery state of charge and reconnecting the loads when the battery is charged again.
-Reverse current protection – this prevents batteries from draining at night when the battery cannot be charged by the solar panels.
-Control display panel – it shows state of battery charge and a battery bank voltage, as well as the current coming from the solar array.
Now, you are probably wondering whether you always need a charge controller in your off-grid solar systems or not.
One thing to keep in mind is that without a solid solar charge controller, your battery will be exposed to frequent overcharges and over discharges which would dramatically reduce the lifespan of the battery. This is definitely not something you are aiming for. That is why you need a high-quality charge controller to give you a piece of mind. However, if you have a solar panel of very low power, below 10 wp, and a battery of 100 amp-hours of capacity, then you do not need a solar charge controller.
Also, there are a few factors you need to keep in mind to make your decision-making process as easy as possible:
- Ease of installation
Installation process is one of the essential factors and should therefore be given some thought. Naturally, if you have all the necessary information and details to install it yourself and if the controller is not too complex, there is no need for you to hire a professional. However, if it turns out that your controller is complex by nature that you are at loose ends what to do, it’s always a better option to consult somebody and hire an expert who will provide you with all the insights and make the installation process run smoothly.
Here are some of the most common rules you need to obey during charge controller installation:
- Certain appliances including refrigerators must be directly connected to the battery
- The inverter should be directly connected to the charge controller “DC load” terminal
- Most controllers have three terminal connections – for the battery, for the array and for the DC loads. In its core, the charge controller disconnects the battery to prevent it from overcharging and disconnects the DC loads connected to the controller “DC load” terminal to prevent the battery from overcharging
- Every device you connect directly to the battery instead of the “DC load” terminal of the charge controller renders the battery’s capacity to stop over discharging useless.
- There is no need for any fuses than the one embedded in a charge controller when you have a small DC system with a charge controller. If you are dealing with larger DC systems, then you need to provide a fuse on the positive terminal of the battery.
Safety is definitely one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing your controller. None of it makes sense, if you put your health and safety in danger. If you are not sure how to deal with technical data and avoid accidents, seek for help.
3. Storage Temperature
Temperature is another factor that you need to keep in mind. Temperature influences the state of and the efficiency of charge controllers and should therefore be a top priority. While PWM charge controllers perform best in warm environments, MPPT work best in cold environments as well as when the battery is low.
If you want to have a quality product, you need to invest in it. The same applies to off-grid solar charger controllers. Basically, the more features the controller has, the more costly it will get.
5. Energy needs
This is probably the most important factor. To get an insight into what kind of controller you really need, you have to calculate the amount of energy you will need for your entire home. For example, if you are planning to power up lighting, heating and cooking purposes, then MPPT charge controller is an ideal solution for you. If, on the other hand, you need solar power for a smaller PV system such as lighting a single or a few rooms, then a PWM controller is just what you are looking for.
8. Choose the Right Solar Mounting System
Another important component of every off-grid solar system is definitely solar mounting system. A good solar mounting system will have two important features:
- It will collect as much sunlight as possible provided it faces your solar panels from the right angle and direction
- Reduce or eliminate the amount of shade that prevents the Sun from hitting your solar panels
Naturally, when choosing your solar mounting system, you need to think about esthetics as well. Do you want panels to visible or not?
Basically, there are three types of mounting systems you can choose from. Which one will you choose depends on your requirements and preferences. Those three types are:
- Roof Mount
- Ground Mount
- Pole Mount
Roof Mount – this mounting system is the most common system and maybe even the most popular on today’s market. However, before deciding which mounting system you will choose for your home, you need to keep an eye on the condition of your roof.
Since the solar system you are planning to install is designed to last for 30 years, your roof must be in a good condition so it can withstand different conditions. The roof is definitely the most suitable and practical place to install a solar panel because in that way solar panels are exposed to sunlight.
Therefore, make sure your roof is suitable for solar panel installation. You surely don’t want to change your solar panel in just 5 years time.
If you are not sure about the current state of your roof, you can always consult solar panel installers. They will surely have the answers to most of your questions and provide you with all the necessary details. In case it turns out that your roof needs to be repaired don’t hesitate to invest in it.
When choosing you off-grid mounting system, always keep in mind that your solar panels need to collect as much sun energy as possible and convert it into electricity.
Another thing to keep in mind when deciding which mounting system is the best option for your home is the time of year and geographical location. For example, during the cold winter months the Sun is very low on the horizon, therefore the optimal angle to capture the sunlight will be higher than in summer months, especially in May and July.
If you want to be sure that your solar panels capture the most sunlight, you can always opt for solar tracking (this involves installing your solar panel on a motorized mounting system that follows the sun throughout the day. In case you do not have ideal roof, you can consider buying a few more solar panels to cover your electrical use and make the best of your roof space.
One of the crucial factors you need to consider is shading. If you install your solar mounting system and only one electrical cable casts shadow on it, you won’t take full advantage of your solar system capacity. Shade can greatly decrease the overall production of your solar array.
On top of that, it’s very important not to consider only current shading but also shading that may occur in the future. In other words, besides shadows cast by walls, poles, chimneys, etc, think about trees that may grow in the near future and the shadow they will cast.
Also, if you are living in an area where there is a lot of dust, you need to have easy access to your solar panels, so you can clean or hose off the dust and keep your solar panels well-maintained. Solar panels are specifically designed to be durable, so you don’t have to worry about damaging them ir scratching them.
One more thing you need to think about are weather conditions. Consider the accessibility of your panels when it is raining or snowing and you want to remove snow from them. In case your roof is not the best option for installing your mounting system, there are other options.
Pole Mount System will use one or more poles to lift your solar systems off the ground. In this way, you will have more space on the ground and you will be able to achieve the best possible orientation and angle for your solar panel. This mounting system is usually the best possible solution for people who have limited space on the roof and not so ideal shading and pitches.
If you are looking for an easy-to-use mounting solar system that you can install effortlessly, then ground mount is the perfect solution for you. If you have enough space to build an “A” frame style ground mount system, you can place your panels in both the optimal southern orientation as well as the optimal pitch. Also, you can easily adjust this system to get the best angle for each of the seasons in your region. If you have limited space on your roof, and your project is relatively small, then this solution may be just what you need.
Choosing the right mounting solar system is another important step when trying to decide which off-grid solar panel to invest in. Whether you choose Pole Mount, Ground Mount or Roof Mount, be mindful that you need to consult and authorized installer about the installation process.
8. Check other people’s reasons behind investing in off-grid solar systems
One of the best ways to find out which off-grid solar systems is best for your home is to read the quotes or talk with people who have had experience with this kind of solar systems. They will provide you with all the information you need and clear any doubts. They may also advise you about the best brands and solar installers as well as give you useful suggestions regarding the solar panel maintenance and installation process.
To give you some insight, we did a bit of research and found out some of the reasons why people choose to invest in an off-grid solar panel.
- Off-grid solar panels save electricity costs
According to many people, investing in an off-grid solar system will help you save a lot of money in the long run
2. They are environmentally friendly
One of the ways to help the environment is to use the natural solar energy to power resources, and what better way to do that than by installing off-grid solar system in your home. As a matter of fact, one of the top reasons why people opt for this type of solar system is because they are environmentally friendly.
3. Great back up/self-reliance
Most people prefer off-grid solar system because they give them their piece of mind. They no longer have to worry about whether the power will cut off or not. Once you know you have a back up, you no longer have to deal with unpleasant unexpected events.
9. Check the Off-Grid Solar Energy System Life-Span
One of the important things to keep in mind when choosing your solar panel system is also their life expectancy. Naturally, when we are choosing the solar system for our home, we pay close attention to its cost. However, when we invest in the solar system we also expect it to be durable and have a longer life-span. In other words, we expect to have our return on investment.
Essentially, the longer your photovoltaic system lasts the longer the your system will produce energy. While off-grid solar systems may cost a bit more than on-grid solar systems, they will unquestionably bring you benefits as you will need the battery backup systems and other components necessary to store your power.
Most manufacturers offer a standard 25-year warranty on their solar panels and guarantee that their energy output will remain at 80 percent of capacity or even greater for 25 years. Although this gives you a sense of security and prevent your from worrying about whether something will go wrong with your solar panel or not, you must think about the period after those 25 years.
While they may not stop working once 25 years go by, they will certainly generate less power over time. And, you can’t be sure how much.
However, if you choose to install an off-grid solar system and if you invest a lot of your time into caring about them, your system should continue to operate for many years to come or even decades beyond the warranty date.
However, when thinking about your system life-span you should also consider the durability of other components. For example, most inverters and battery banks have a 5-10 year warranty which is essential information when considering installing a solar power system.
One thing you need to keep in mind when going through this decision-making process is that photovoltaic panels are not designed to last forever. This in most cases is unavoidable because it is simply not possible to protect the system entirely from weather conditions as well as from the environment in general. However, experts predict that you can potentially extend the life of your solar panel system if you take care of it properly. Here are some things you can do to protect your off-grid solar panel system in the long run:
- keep your trees trimmed regularly as it will decrease the physical impact of the environment and prevent your solar panels from damaging
- periodically clean your solar panels by removing dirt or debris. Rainstorms can usually clean all the pollen, animal droppings and debris in general from your solar panels. However, in arid climates, there are fewer summer storms. If you are living in such an area, you can simply rinse dust off with a garden hose. Make sure that the water you are using is demineralised, as hard water can cause scaling and corrosion over time. On the other hand, if you live in the area where pollen and dust are a recurring issue, you may consider installing a roof-mounted sprinkler system and take the headache out of regular cleaning. Aslo, if you decide to install a sprinkler, make sure you consult an installer so that the sprinklers won’t negatively impact your solar panels or your roof. Generally, by cleaning your off-grid solar systems you will enable your system to run more efficiently
- consult a qualified solar contractor and make sure you have your system inspected regularly and complete any necessary maintenance before a potential damage or a malfunction affects the system’s performance.
- if you are living in the area with high chances of snowfall, regular snow removal from your solar panels might be difficult and challenging. In most cases, snow on your roofs will melt down and you wont need to clean it. However, if it is too cold for the snow to melt, you may have to use a broom or a snow rake to remove the snow. Again, consult your solar system installer and check your warranty or manual to ensure this won’t damage your solar panels.
- in case of an ice-build up, you may need to consult a professional maintenance service recommended by your off-grid solar system installer in order to prevent any long-term issues. This is extremely important because ice may weaken your roof and cause corrosion on your rack or the panels themselves which entirely threatens the solar panel integrity. In most cases it is very difficult and challenging to deal with such situations on your own. That is why it is highly advisable to consult a professional.
- clean the batteries – as water escapes through the cap, some may leave condensation on the top. This fluid can be slightly acidic and even electrically conductive. This means it can create a small path between battery posts and pull more load than necessary. The best way to avoid this is to clean the battery terminals. You can do this by mixing baking soda and distilled water and apply it using a special brush. Rinse the terminal with water and make sure that all connections are tight. Coat the metal components with a high temperature grease and make sure the baking soda doesn’t get inside the cells.
- do not mix batteries – mixing new batteries with the old ones can have an adverse impact on the performance since the new ones usually degrade very quickly to the quality of the aged ones. By properly maintaining your battery bank, you can significantly improve the system ‘s efficiency and extend the lifespan of your off-grid solar system.
10. Search for the Best Off-Grid Solar Panel Kits
Going solar is definitely not an easy task, especially if we take a huge variety of installers and products on today’s market. After you have learned about the essential components and found out all the details regarding installation of an off-grid solar panel, you are ready to start looking for the right solar panel system that will meet your requirements.
To help you with the decision-making process, we’ve done some research and now we would like to introduce you to some of the best off-grid solar panel kits that are not suitable only for homes, but also for apartments, trailers, worksites and more.
Naturally, the best thing about off-grid solar panel is that it allows you power all the remote places such as a remote home, a rural cabin or even a boat.
So, let’s begin.
1. Renogy 800W Off-grid Solar Panel Kit
- Designed for off-grid solar panel system, Caravan, RV, boat, Green...
- Sleek design and a durable frame, The Renogy premium 100 watt 12 volt...
- Rover charge controller brings peak conversion efficiency of 98%, high...
This solar panel kit is actually a high-end variant of a line-up of Renogy’s heavy-duty solar kits. It features eight units of Renogy’s Premium high-efficiency mono solar panels which makes it one of the best off-grid solar panel kits you could choose for your home. On top of that, it offers some amazing features that distinguish it from the rest off-grid solar panel kits out there on the market. This solar panel kit is known for its EL tested solar cells. Also, it is built on the advanced TPT (Tedlar Polyester Tedlar) back sheets
Meaning that these solar panels are not susceptible to hot-spot heating. In other words, these kinds of solar panels gave a longer life-span and better and smoother performance. The best part is that these solar panels integrate IP65-rated junction boxes, which means that it is an excellent choice for different weather conditions. All, Renogy 800W off-grid solar panel kit is an excellent choice for your home or any remote place which you need to power.
When it comes to the included solar charge controller, be mindful that it is Renogy’s Famous commander 60a unit. It features a die-cast aluminium case which means that it realises a natural heat dissipation. Plus, it enables a four-stage charging process which allows you to charge your power back ups easily, safely and fast.
If you are still having second thoughts about buying this solar panel kit or not, let us remind you what value it can bring to your home:
-it includes 60A Renogy Commander Charge Controller
-it is a large 800W off-grid solar panel kit
-it is built on the advanced TPT (Tedlar Polyester Tedlar) Back Sheets
-It is Renogy’s Premium Quality Solar Panel Kit
2. Go Power 48 watt Solar Extreme Solar Kit
- It is used for long term use on your RV, cottage, cabin or boat
- Run your TV and other AC appliances day or night without the noise of...
- Completely green power solution
The second in the row is unquestionably Go Power 48-Watt solar extreme solar kit. Go Power generally sells heavy-duty solar panel kits. This model is a top-end model which includes all the essential components including 3000 pure sine wave inverter. It is a high-powered off-grid power solution for your home and workspace. The installation process is quite easy. Simply, install the included solar panels on a flat surface and connect the solar
Inverter system to your battery storage, up to 400amps. This off-grid solar panel kit offers you a huge amount of energy and allows you to deal with unexpected situations with the unlimited off/grid power in your living or working space. In addition, the Go Power off/grid solar panel kit includes voltmeter, cables and cords as well as other essentials.
The best part is that you get two low/power variants to the go Power Solar kit -320W Elite solar kit and 160 Weekender. This means you can choose the one that fits your requirements as well as your budget. Installation process is also quite simple – by using a manual that comes with the kit you can even set up this solar panel kit yourself without having to ask for technician’s help or advice from installers.
Let’s wrap things up.
By installing these solar panels you will get:
-large and highly efficient solar panels
-multiple power variants available
-complete heavy-duty solar panel kit
-3000 Watt pure sine wave inverter
3. Grape Solar 400-Watt off-grid solar panel kit
- Ideal for running small pumps and lights or charging your portable...
- Grape Solar GS-STAR-100W polycrystalline panel features a two diode...
- 40 Amp Comet PWM charge controller allows you to add up to 1 more...
Probably one of the most popular off-grid solar panel kits is Grape Solar 400-Watt. This kit includes a charge controller and a power inverter and is an ideal solution when it comes to charging smaller backups and running smaller appliances such as medical equipment, lightning, pumps, etc. This powerful solar panel will certainly help you ensure unlimited power of energy to your living space and will no longer have to worry about potential emergency cases.
The kit includes four polycrystalline units. The bundle also includes 1800-watt Grape Solar PurePower with two AC sockets and a USB port which you can use to charge your gadgets.
This is another off-grid solar power panel kit that will help you power your campers, RVs, homes and campers. since the kit does not include the battery, you need a minimum of one 12V deep cycle battery to use the solar kit.
The bottom line is, you should buy Grape Solar 400-Watt off-grid solar kit because:
– it includes 1800-Watt Grape Solar PurePower Inverter
-35Amp Xantrex Solar charge controller
-It is perfect for campers
4. WindyNation Complete 400-Watt Solar Panel Kit
- Complete kit includes: (4pcs) 100 Watt Polycrystalline Solar Panel,...
- Designed for RVs, cabins, homes, boats, back-up and remote power use
- PWM Solar Charge Controller has user adjustable settings! LCD Screen...
WindyNation is another high quality and a top brand that sells some of the most powerful off/grid solar panels. The best thing about this kit is that it includes all the essentials as the name suggests.
For example, it even includes the required batteries for later use, four pieces of 100w polycrystalline solar panels, 1500 W Vertamax DC to AC inverter with a surge capacity of 3000 watts and 30 Amp solar charge controller. This kit also features four pieces of 12V Batta Max 100 Ah AGM deep cycle batteries. It can produce an average of 135 A hours of power on a normal day with enough sunlight. This means you can run almost all the appliances in your house quite comfortably.
Why should you buy this kit?
- 400W Complete Solar Panel Kit with Batteries.
- 1500W VertaMax DC to AC Power Inverter.
- 400Ah AGM Lead Acid Battery Pack.
- Perfect for RVs, Boats, Trailers, and Cabins
5. Eco-worthy 800 watt solar panel kit
- Output Power: 3.2kwh daily output depends on the sunlight...
- Easy Installed: each 195W solar panel comes with pre-drilled hole and...
- 60A LCD Charge Controller: suitable for Sealed, GEL, Flooded, Li...
Eco-worthy 800 Watt Solar Panel Kit is probably the most popular and most sought solar panel kits from this series on the market. This exclusive solar panel kit includes 100-watt solar efficiency silicon solar panels and other essential requirements which makes it one of the best solar panels you could find for an affordable price.
This eco-worthy bundle features a unit of 3000w solar inverter which has a surge capacity of 6000 watts. Keep in mind that this kind of power is more than enough to supply most of the appliances in your home and working space. On top of that, this , solar panel kit contains a unit of 60Amp PMW power controller, 15-ft solar cable, a combiner box and the required mounting brackets. What more could you ask for!?
To make things even more interesting, this brand also sells many variants ranging from 100W to 600W. This allows you to find the best model that suits both your requirements and budget. Since there is a huge variety of off-grid solar panel kits on the market, let’s summarize why this one is the perfect choice for you:
-it includes powerful 800-watt solar panel
-3000 W pure sine wave power inverter
-60 Amp PMW charge controller
-Multiple Low-power options available
6. Dokio 200W foldable Solar Panel Kit
- 【FOLDABLE AND LIGHTWEIGHT EASY TO CARRY】-- This solar panel...
- 【PERFECT CHOICE FOR OUTDOOR AND EMERGENCY LIFE】-- The panel is...
- 【HIGH CONVERSION EFFICIENCY】: With high efficiency monocrystalline...
If these above mentioned off-grid solar panel kits didn’t satisfy your needs, this one most certainly will. This solar panel kit has a higher output of 200 watts, it is amazing, portable and friendly for outdoor needs.
The best thing about this solar panel kit is that you can fold it into a smaller unit and pack it up in the included carrying bag. At the same time, it is an excellent choice because it offers you a high output so you can charge your 12V batteries.
Thanks to the use of high-efficiency solar modules, the Dokia solar panels offer you a higher conversion rate. Also, this solar panel is very thin at 0.2 inches and it weighs just 10.5 lb which is why it easy so easy to carry.
This kit includes a small solar charge controller with a pair of USB outlets. This means you could use this solar panel kit to easily and quickly charge your small handset directly under the sunlight.
In addition, this solar panel kit contains a unit of battery charges. In other words, you can use the system to charge your small battery packs in the wild or emergency situation.
However, the most attractive thing about this system is that it is portable and easy to use. You could literally take it anywhere and enjoy the access to the unlimited energy. So let’s see why you should buy this off-grid solar panel kit:
-it has higher efficiency conversion
-it is a perfect choice for campers and hikers
-it is easy-to-use, highly portable and friendly for outdoor appliances
-it is 200W foldable solar panel kit
7. Renogy 3600-Watt Solar Cabin Solar Kit
- Ideal for large off-grid systems such as remote cabins.
- Works with off-grid residential and commercial rooftop systems.
- Guaranteed positive output tolerance (0-3%); withstands high winds...
This solar panel kit belongs to the group of large off-grid solar kits, a high-end variant of a line-up of popular solar panels from this brand. But, what distinguishes it from other solar panels on the market? It packs up 12 units of Renogy’s premium high-efficiency mono solar panels, which makes it a top choice for your home, cabin, caravan, RV, etc.
If you are looking for maximum efficiency for an amazing price, you came to the right place. It doesn’t pack up an inverter, but it contains a powerful charge controller, combiner box, breakers, cables and cords. Be mindful that the included charge controller is a unit of Renogy’s famous MidNite Classic 200 MPPT controller. This allows remote monitoring.
Apart from this Renogy’s 3600 Watt variant, there are other low-power models for the Renogy’s product, ranging from 1200W to 2700W. If you take all these things into account, finding the right choice for your home should not be a difficult task.
Finally, the good thing about this solar panel kit is that you can set up a quick and easy DIY solution anywhere at any time. Since you already have all the necessary components, you just need to buy a battery and a power inverter to build a powerful and reliable solar panel solution.
On the other hand, you can simply connect it to RV, houseboat backups or a camper and recharge from the sun. All in all, this solar panel kit is really worth buying considering the fact that it has all the necessary components and amazing features.
To sum up:
-this is a powerful 3600W solar panel kit
-it includes breakers, cables, cords, and combiner boxes
-it has multiple low-power variants that are available for customers with a limited budget
-it includes Renogy MidNite Classic 200 MPPT charge controller
8. Eco-Worthy Hybrid Solar Wind 1400W Off-Grid Kit
- [ Suitable For ] - This 24v off grid system is made up of solar panel...
- [ Wind Turbine ] - Low start-up speed, high wind power utilization,...
- [ Solar Panel ] - It's designed with corrosion resistant aluminum...
This amazing solar panel kit features a 400W wind turbine and ten pieces of 100W poly solar panels. It has a total output of 1400W. You can easily and simply set it up on the roof of your home, workistes or garage and use its incredible unlimited off-grid power to power up the appliances and create eco-friendly environment.
On top of it, this kit includes a powerful 1500W pure sine inverter. This allows you to quickly and easily set up a complete off-grid power system just by connecting to the battery in your home or in a camper. Keep in mind that the included charge controller is a hybrid unit which merges the power from both sources.
Finally, your off-grid power kit will produce power during the daytime using sun energy and at night and in the evenings by using the energy coming from the wind turbine. Naturally, whether the wind turbine will produce power or not depends on the availability of the winds.
Another reason why you should consider buying this solar kit is its amazing durability. The kit contains the blades of turbine in a high-quality nylon fiber, which makes it suitable for both marine and land uses. Plus, these solar panels have corrosion-aluminium frames meaning they are capable to withstand extremely bad weather conditions. As you can see, this solar panel kit has a number of benefits:
-it is a powerful solar wind hybrid off-grid kit
-it contains a powerful 1500-watt pure sine wave inverter
-it has multiple variants available based on the output
-it has 1000-watt highly efficient solar panels
-it contains 400-Watt highly reliable wind turbine
-it contains powerful hybrid solar wind charge controller
9. HQST 400W 12V Polycrystalline Solar Panel Kit
- The kit includes 2 packs 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel,...
- Used in various off-grid applications that include 12 and 24 volts...
- HQST 100W polycrystalline compact design 35.6x25.9x1.20in high module...
The next item on our list is probably the best one from the HQST series – HQST 400W 12V polycrystalline solar panel kit. Apart from a 400W solar panel, this kit includes some additional cords and cables as well as solar charge controller. The kit contains 4 units of the brand’s high-quality poly solar panels. You can easily install your solar panels on various surfaces such as rooftops and boat decks and use as much sun energy as possible to power up your appliances.
Apart from the above mentioned components, the kit contains a unit of 30A PMW LCD charge controller. This kit is also sold with a PMW 30A negative-ground charge controller. This other is a perfect choice if you are planning to set up your solar panel in an RV, campers, trailers and other vehicles for portable solar power. The cables included in the pack are mainly MC4 adapter kits, connectors, tray cables, etc.
Finally, this amazing off-grid solar panel kit also packs the required mounting brackets for solar panels which allows you to set up a solar panel more easily.
Overall, the system could offer you 200Wh per day, which is enough energy to power up all the essential appliances and electronics in case of an emergency.
The main benefits:
-it is 400W poly off-grid solar kit
-it is a complete off-grid solar kit for emergencies
-it can offer 2000Wh of power on a daily basis
-it includes 30Amp PWM LCD display charge controller
10. Go Power Valterra 120W Portable Solar Kit
- Includes carrying case
- 130 Watts of power 6.9 ampere DC per hour
- Built in 10 ampere solar controller.Rated current:6.7 A
Another excellent off-grid solar power kit on our list is most definitely Go power Valterra 120W portable solar kit. This is an amazing, versatile, and convenient battery charging facility that also has a built-in charge controller included. Since it has a great foldable design and built-in kickstands, it is easy to set up almost anywhere.
Plus, you do not have to install it somewhere permanently. This kit also contains Anderson-style battery charger connectors that will allow you to interchange the charging accessories easily.
This kit integrates a 10Amp charge controller, which allows you to charge a number of your battery packs including the ones in your trailer, camper, RV, etc. Simply, place your solar panel anywhere and use the sunlight and its power to charge your batteries.This will help you manage your solar kit more easily.
Still wondering why you should buy the kit? Check out the main benefits:
-it includes Anderson-style charging connectors
-10Amp built-in solar charge controller
-it is an ideal solution for campers, and all the outdoor apps.
-it includes a 120Wsolar charger
Anyone interested in investing in a high-quality solar panel system should most certainly consider buying an off-grid solar system because of the numerous benefits it will bring them.
However, before choosing the right one, you need to look at all the options carefully and search for all the details and information that will make this journey less stressful and worthwhile.
As we mentioned before, sometimes the best way to find the off-grid solar system that will suit your requirements and needs is to consult someone from local utility who will provide you with an estimate on the cost of bringing in power.
For example, you may want to compare the quotes from different installers and make sure you are on the right track. Also, make sure you talk to several potential suppliers, because, in most cases, reputation is more important than the cost.
Check references and don’t look for best offers at box stores, but various bits and pieces before making everything compatible. A good and reputable off-grid solar system installer will not only sell the entire system. They will also make sure that the entire system works properly at all times and they will provide you with all the necessary information you need to make your decision.
Also, once you choose your solar panel system, your installer will be there to help you and guide you in case of emergency or should something go wrong.
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Last update on 2020-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API