Off-grid living in Arizona is becoming increasingly popular, and many homeowners are curious about cutting their ties with the electric grid. If you’re thinking about installing off-grid solar panels, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this type of solar energy system.
What Is an Off-Grid Solar System?
Most residential solar panel systems are tied to the electric grid, which means they can pull electricity from the grid and feed electricity into it. This allows you to buy electricity from the grid when your solar panels are not producing enough and send electricity to the grid when you’re producing more than you need.
Off-grid solar systems, on the other hand, are not connected to the electricity grid. In an off-grid system, solar batteries are used to store any excess electricity the panels generate during the day. That energy can then be used to power your home whenever the panels are not producing enough electricity—at night or on a cloudy day, for example. You can also integrate a whole-home Kohler generator to help supply electricity when you need more than your panels can produce.
Does Arizona Allow Off-Grid Living?
Embracing an off-grid lifestyle in Arizona is legal, however, this approach is subject to regulation. Obtaining permits is required for most installations related to off-grid solar systems in Arizona. This is to ensure that off-grid solar power systems comply with fire ordinances and any other zoning laws that pertain to your local municipality.
Laws and Regulations to Consider Before Installing Off-Grid Solar
- Building Permits and Codes: Local building codes and permits are essential for any construction, including the installation of solar panels. These vary by municipality.
- Electrical Codes: For safety and functionality, solar panel installations must comply with the National Electrical Code (NEC) and any additional local electrical codes. Energy Solution Providers ensure all of our solar installations are compliant with building and electrical codes.
- Utility Interconnection Policies: If your system is not entirely off-grid and you plan to connect to the grid for backup or net metering, you must comply with your utility's interconnection requirements.
- Homeowners Association (HOA) Rules: If your residence is part of an HOA, there may be specific guidelines around solar panel installations.
- Zoning Laws: Local zoning laws can affect where and how solar panels can be installed, especially in urban areas.
- Environmental Regulations: Depending on the location, there might be environmental regulations to consider, particularly if you are in a protected area or near a sensitive ecosystem.
- Fire Safety Codes: Especially in urban areas, there might be fire safety codes that dictate how solar panels must be installed.
As an experienced solar contractor with over two decades of experience installing off-grid solar panels in Arizona, Energy Solution Providers can answer any of your questions about going off-grid with solar. As a local, Arizona solar installer, we are well-versed in local code requirements and will make sure your system is compliant with all relevant regulations.
What are the Benefits of Off-Grid Solar?
Installing an off-grid solar power system is more expensive than installing grid-tied solar panels, but for many homeowners here in the Phoenix area, the cost of going off-grid is worth the benefits.
Electric Bill Savings
Do solar panels really save money? Yes, absolutely! Once you go off-grid, you’ll never have to pay an electric bill again—all of the electricity you use will be generated and stored for free by your solar energy system. This protects you against volatile utility rates and will help you save significant amounts of money over time.
Smaller Carbon Footprint
With an off-grid system, you’ll be powering your home exclusively with renewable energy, or using a minimal amount of gas if you require a generator as part of your system. This means fewer carbon emissions and less overall reliance on fossil fuels.
No More Power Outages
Grid-tied solar panels are turned off when the power goes out, but off-grid systems are not, giving you access to uninterrupted power during a blackout.
Power a Remote Home
Off-grid solar gives you the freedom to live in a remote or off-the-beaten-path location that utility companies don’t serve. Thanks to off-grid solar, you can build your dream home anywhere, without having to worry about access to power lines.
Elements of an Off-Grid Solar Panel System
Off-grid solar energy systems are slightly more complex than grid-tied systems, and they tend to be larger. To build an off-grid system, you’ll need:
- Solar panels – Solar panels capture energy from the sun and convert it into electricity. Because off-grid systems need to generate all of the power the home will use, they typically include more solar panels than grid-tied systems.
- Solar batteries and/or generator – Battery storage is an essential component of any off-grid system. Because off-grid systems cannot pull electricity from the grid, multiple batteries are used to allow for ample backup power. You may also want to include a generator in your system as an additional source of emergency power.
- Charge controller – The charge controller diverts solar power to your battery backup and prevents the batteries from overcharging, which can cause damage.
- Inverter – Installing a solar inverter is necessary in any solar energy system. Solar inverters are used to convert the direct current (DC) electricity that solar panels produce into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is what homes are wired for.
What Are the Downsides to Off-Grid Living?
Keeping your home connected to the greater power grid can have some benefits, but as Arizona’s energy infrastructure ages and power outages become more common, taking control of your own energy production becomes more feasible. One thing to consider when it comes to off-grid solar is the cost — how much money do you need to live off-grid?
Living off the grid will require the purchase and installation of enough solar panels to cover all of your energy needs throughout each season, as well as an accompanying bank of solar batteries. This will cost more than a more traditional grid-tied solar PV system, but the good news is that off-grid solar panels and batteries qualify for the solar tax credit. The solar tax credit reduces your federal tax liability by 30% of your solar installation costs for the year you install your system, saving you a considerable amount of money.
Learn More About Off-Grid Solar Panel Installation in AZ
Energy Solution Providers is a leading off-grid solar energy installer serving homeowners in many Arizona communities, including Phoenix, Eloy, Tempe, and Tucson. We install off-grid solar panels and can design a system that meets all of your energy needs so that you can live comfortably off-grid. To learn more about off-grid solar and the cost of solar panels in AZ, give us a call today. We provide free solar quotes, and are here to answer all of your questions about solar energy!
Get a free quote for your off-grid solar installation in Arizona. Call Energy Solution Providers at 520-868-0700 or contact us online.