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July 25, 2019

There are some situations where an off-grid system with battery backup makes the best sense for powering a home. Like solar panels, battery backups have improved in design and efficiency, and come down in price.  For homes that are located at a distance from a grid connection, off grid solar battery backup can be a viable solution. The solar experts at Energy Solution Providers can help determine whether your Tucson AZ home is a good off grid option.

How Does Off Grid Solar Work?

The components that combine for off grid solar systems include solar photovoltaic panels, an inverter and a storage battery to store power for use when the sun is not shining. Many homes also include a backup generator for extended power during winter, when the sun is less powerful or at night. 

Solar Panels Collect the Sun’s Rays

Solar panels are engineered to convert the sun’s rays to direct current (DC) electricity. Solar companies install panels to maximize the arc of the sun throughout the year, facing in a generally south direction, at an angle. The panels are mounted side by side and connected to a main DC power line that connects to the system’s inverter.

The Solar Inverter Converts DC to Household Current

Because the electricity produced by the solar panels is direct current it needs to be converted to alternating current (AC) for household use. Appliances, heating and cooling, lighting and essentials such as sump pumps, well water pumps and septic systems are powered by AC. Throughout the day, the inverter converts DC to AC that is fed into your home’s electrical system.

Excess Electricity Needs to be Stored

To be effective, your off grid solar panel system should be sized by a solar company. The professional solar installers at Energy Solution Providers will calculate the number of panels needed to produce enough electricity to power all the systems inside your home. 

Grid Tied Versus Off Grid Solar

When the solar system is connected to the power grid via your electric utility, excess power travels back to the utility. The utility tracks it and applies the credit to power drawn from the grid at night or during the winter. For grid tied systems, the utility acts like a virtual battery for your home system.  

Off Grid Systems Require Battery Storage

Because off grid systems don’t rely on the utility to store excess electricity for nighttime and winter use, they must include solar battery storage. In off grid systems, excess electricity is directed into the battery to store for later use. 

How Many Batteries Will an Off Grid System Require?

Calculating the amount of electricity your home needs is an important step to equipping an off grid home, both for the number of solar panels and number of storage batteries. To get the right combination of solar panels and battery storage, homeowners from Phoenix to Tucson rely on the pros at Energy Solution Providers. Many off grid homes are designed to consume very little power, such as net zero homes. Retrofitting an existing home for off grid living may require upgrading older systems to appliances that use the least amount of power, first. The less power required for your home to operate, the less excess generated electricity you need to store, therefore minimizing the number of batteries required for your off grid solar system.

For commercial solar installations, battery storage provides a reliable backup to maintain crucial operations. The solar installation experts at Energy Solution Providers will evaluate the energy needs for your Maricopa, Pima or Pinal County business and recommend the correct number of batteries for your off grid commercial solar system.

Where is the Battery Storage Installed?

Storage batteries for your solar system are generally installed in out-of-the-way locations, often in the garage or basement. The batteries can be connected inline to your panels via the home inverter and to any back-up generator on site.

Off Grid Homes Often Add a Back-up Generator

A back-up power generator provides alternatives to periods of time where batteries might be drawn down. They can be used to supplement solar power and top off batteries, or to completely recharge batteries when circumstances require. While some homeowners plan to ditch their generators when adding battery back up, others who may need constant  electricity to power medical devices may retain this option for emergency use. The downsides to backup generators is that they run on fossil fuels (propane, natural gas, diesel or gasoline) and can be noisy when operating.