Year-round sunshine and an increasingly robust renewables infrastructure make Australia the perfect place to switch to solar. A sizeable solar power system can meet the energy needs of a household with excess to spare. In this case, why stay connected to the grid? But can the benefits of off-grid solar power outweigh the initial installation costs? Read on to find out!
Those who stay connected to the grid have the security of knowing their power will never go down. That’s because if for any reason their solar power system does not meet their needs the grid provides the shortage. However, their system may also create more power than they need. In this instance, the surplus power goes back into the grid and the energy company pays the owner in cash or offers a reduction on their energy bill.
So why choose off-grid solar power? Well, if your solar power system can generate enough power on-site, you needn’t be connected to the grid at all. That means no energy bills ever again!
In very simple terms:
During the day, your solar panels can generate more electricity than you need. This electricity is stored in deep cycle batteries for use at night or during the days that are overcast. Australians living in rural communities have been using off-grid solar energy for years. Some people, especially business owners, keep a DC backup generator in case something goes wrong. Yet many Australians manage to meet their energy needs with a stand-alone system.
Australians have experienced a dramatic hike in energy prices in the last few years. Between 2015 and 2017 wholesale energy prices almost doubled leaving Australians struggling to pay for some of the most expensive energy in the world. By generating your own power off-grid, you are energy independent and unaffected by energy prices or grid-outages.
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The initial cost of an off-grid power system can be high. A grid-connected system capable of producing 5kWh per day costs around $15,000. An equivalent off-grid (SAP, stand-alone power) system costs around $30,000.
The Australian government is striving to meet renewable energy targets. Part of their strategy is to support Australian homeowners to invest in solar panel technology. Generous incentives and rebates have been introduced to make the initial investment easier to manage. As well as STCs (small-scale technology certificates) that act like discount tokens, the government can also offer no-interest loans.
The main issue with off-grid supply is unpredictability. Your energy supply is entirely dependent on the weather. And while most of Australia enjoys a great deal of sunshine all year round, there are still overcast and rainy days. If your system should fail, you’re also responsible for any costs. Living without energy is a challenge and you may even find yourself saddled with a large bill to reconnect to the grid.
The power generated by solar power is clean of harmful emissions. Switching your household’s energy supply from the mains grid to solar power is one of the greatest contributions you can make to improving the environment.