DIY Off Grid Power: How Much Does It Cost?
An off grid solar power system is the perfect solution for sites that are unable to access utility power because it is either not available or not cost effective to bring in. Off grid systems can include: solar, batteries, and/or a generator that all work together to power your home’s loads. Living off the grid usually requires some lifestyle adjustments in order to reduce your electrical consumption and use patterns; for some people this means completely reorienting how they think about their power use.
What Size of Off Grid Solar System Do I Need?
Determining how much power your off grid solar PV system needs to produce for off-grid living is similar to sizing a grid-tie solar system, except that there is no utility bill to refer to for historic usage. So, the first step is to make a comprehensive list of your electrical loads – all the items you plan to power in your off-grid home. Just remember that the more power you use, the more you will need to produce, increasing the size and cost of your system.
What Can I Run While Living Off the Grid?
It is generally not cost-effective or feasible to install a renewable energy system large enough to provide power for things like electric heat, air-conditioning, electric cooking or electric hot water. Geothermal, solar hot water, and of course, gas appliances, are just some of the alternatives available that will allow you to maintain a comfortable lifestyle without relying on utility power.
How Much Should I Budget for DIY Off Grid Solar?
Since not everyone powers the same loads, below is ballpark pricing for some different DIY off grid system kits and examples of what loads they might power. Be aware that this pricing does not include standard electrical and building materials, permits or labor, which must also be considered when planning your budget.
Off Grid Solar System Estimates
The chart below provides ballpark sizes and pricing for off grid solar systems with roof mounted solar panels. You may generate and use more or less power depending on a number of factors, including the actual power draw on your specific appliances, how long/often you run your loads, location of your site, angle and azimuth of your array, and periods of shading. Periodic supplemental charging with a generator is typically required for off grid systems during fall and winter, and inclement weather. Pricing estimates exclude shipping charges and rapid shutdown (if required).
DIY Solar Kit Ballpark Pricing
|System Size||Suggested Battery||What Will it Power?||For How Long?||Approx. Price||Approx. add for Pole Mount|
|3.55kW, 9 Solar Panels||(1) RELiON RB48V100 LiFePO4 Lithium Battery, 100 amp hour||TV, DVD Player, Internet Router, Cell Phone Chargers, LED Lights||About 10 hours||$13,500||$2,500|
|7.11kW, 18 Solar Panels||(1) RELiON RB48V200 LiFePO4 Lithium Battery, 200 amp hour||Refrigerator, LED Lights, Coffee Pot, TV, DVD Player, CPAP Machine, Cell Phone Charger, Internet Router||About 24 hours||$23,000||$5,200|
|9.48kW, 24 Solar Panels||(1) RELiON RB48V300 LiFePO4 Lithium Battery, 300 amp hour||Refrigerator, Microwave, LED Lights, Coffee Pot, TV, Computer, CPAP Machine, Cell Phone Chargers, Washing Machine, Internet Router||About 24 hours||$28,000||$5,700|
|14.22kW, 36 Solar Panels||(1) RELiON RB48V300 LiFePO4 Lithium Battery, 300 amp hour each||Refrigerator, Freezer, Microwave, LED Lights, Coffee Pot, TV, DVD Player, Security Cameras, Computer, CPAP Machine(s), Internet Router, Septic Pump, Well Pump, Aquatic Fish Tank||About 48 hours||$37,800||$8,300|
Visit the DIY Off Grid Solar Kit section of our website for more specific equipment and pricing information.
Keep in mind that the cost of an off grid system increases with more loads and the longer you want them to run. This is typically because more energy storage (batteries) is required to keep your home running. The bottom line is that you need to size for the right balance between how much you spend on equipment, and ongoing costs for recharging with a supplemental power system – usually generator fuel and maintenance. Finding the right balance requires guidance from a knowledgeable and reputable power system provider with off-grid expertise.