Look on the Sunny Side of Off-Grid Living


You hear a lot about living off the grid these days when talking about tiny houses and living tiny. But exactly what does it mean to live “off the grid” anyways? Off-grid living simply means not having to rely on the everyday municipal utilities such as water, electricity, sewer, and gas. One of the ways to live off the grid is to use solar energy. Today we will discuss what solar power is, how it works, the pros and cons, equipment needed, and the costs involved.

Solar energy works by capturing the sun’s energy and turning it into electricity for your home or business. Solar energy has become the world’s fastest-growing source of power surpassing all other fuel types. But how do we capture this energy and turn it into electricity you may ask.

How Solar Energy Works

  • Solar panels convert sunlight to DC electricity.
  • An inverter converts DC electricity to AC electricity.
  • Electricity from the solar panels powers your home.
  • Extra electricity is sent to the utility grid for a credit or to a back up battery is you own one.

So what are the pro’s of using solar to go off grid?

  • Low monthly cost to operate after your initial investment.
  • You can live where you want, location is not dependent upon how close to the grid you live.
  • Going off grid lessens global emissions.
  • You have power wherever you travel with your tiny home.
  • No worries about power outages.
  • Off-grid land prices are cheaper than land with grid power.
  • Using only the energy you generate forces you to be energy efficient.
  • You will never be subjected to rate hikes from grid power systems.

And the cons…

  • Initial cost for equipment and installation.
  • Solar energy generation slows down in cloudy areas.
  • You may exceed the amount of power the solar system provides.
  • Living off-grid requires a change in lifestyle.
  • You are your electric company.  You will need to monitor your usage at all times.
  • If you place your solar panels on the roof of your tiny home you may have to reposition your house with the change of seasons.

What equipment will you need?

  • Solar panels convert sunlight to DC electricity.
  • Inverter to convert DC to AC power.
  • Monitoring system allowing you to view and measure real-time energy production of the solar system. 
  • Racking system to mount your solar panels.

What are the costs?

What will switching to solar power and living off the grid actually cost? The average price per watt for solar panels ranges from $2.67 to $3.43. Costs for system installation ranges from $11,214 to $14,406 after solar credits in the United States.

So it may seem like a lot at first, but going off-grid with solar energy does have many benefits we still haven’t discussed.  Solar power and off grid living helps the environment and causes less electricity loss.  It improves grid security while also creating many jobs and economic growth at the same time. Once the initial costs of installing the system are paid, solar power is free!  And who doesn’t like free? I know I do! 

Living tiny comes with many options and decisions to be made.  Living off the grid is completely do-able and worth every cent.  We have become very dependent on electricity through the years.  Going off the grid not only helps the environment and allows you to have power when you need it, but also allows you to make that little dent in the universe.

Until next time, live tiny!

F.A.Q. - What is a Tiny Home?

There is no set definition as to what constitutes a tiny house. However, a residential structure under 500 square feet is generally considered a tiny home.

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