Living off-grid is becoming a more realistic proposition than ever. A variety of complementary ways to generate your own power combine to generate all the electricity you’ll need. Traditionally, the complex nature and cost of generating your own power put many people off. However, the equipment needed to live off the grid has been developing at a staggering rate in recent years, increasing its popularity exponentially, which has also driven down prices.
Now, living off the grid is not just a viable option for many remote homes and businesses, but it’s the most cost-effective solution.
Fact: Renewable energy sources currently generate about 25% of the planet’s energy.
While they require very little maintenance, the amount of energy that can be stored, the geographic variations in solar exposure and the high initial costs have meant solar off-grid power has largely remained a small part of the solution, rather than a stand-alone answer. However, solar panels are constantly evolving and the battery capacity is increasing with each new generation, so while it’s currently a solution that typically requires a longer period of time to recoup your initial cost, it’s currently considerably cheaper than it was a decade ago.
Solar Fact: On average, a solar off-grid power system is installed every 4 minutes.
Residential off-grid wind turbines are an increasingly popular option for people with the required topographical location and regional average wind speeds to make them worthwhile. The obvious downside to a wind turbine is the need for a breeze, which isn’t usually a problem in the UK. Turbines are available in a variety of sizes, from 4-foot 400-watt through to 23-foot 10kw.
Wind Turbine Fact: Wind turbine installations are growing at 10% per annum and can currently account for 5% of the global electricity demand.
If you have a constant source of running water on your land, such as a stream, you can use it to generate a constant stream of electricity. Because these systems often produce a consistent supply of electricity, fewer batteries are needed. While this can be a great solution with a lower capital investment, it does require specific elements that would exclude many potential users.
Micro Hydro Fact: Micro-hydro is being used to bring power to remote areas in developing countries, creating the possibility to use computers, cell phones, and have electric light.
It isn’t just devices aimed at generating electricity that make off-grid living easier, it’s also the advancements made in devices that require little or no energy. There is a range of products worth researching if you’re living off-grid, from composting toilets to solar-powered cooking equipment. Investing a bit of time researching the solutions that could work for you will save you plenty of energy in the long run.
No matter how energy aware we are, there are always times when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing. There are also equipment failures and servicing to content with. Not having electricity for a few hours can be a massive inconvenience, but if you’re living somewhere remote it could be for days. This is why people who live off-grid always back up their renewable efforts with a generator. Modern generators are very efficient and can often be programmed to automatically pick up the slack when your renewable sources are not quite producing enough electricity.