Can I go off the grid?

Off Grid

The prevalence of blackouts and the growing uncertainty has prompted many Australian homeowners to consider an off-grid solution. Here’s an explanation of what is involved when switching off-grid. 

Total energy independence
It may seem like a favourable setting; homeowners are tired of high energy bills and energy retailers deciding how to charge customers with confusing discounts. Total energy independence essentially means that you are solely responsible for the energy generation at your property, and the grid can not provide a back up solution for you, even if your system is out for the day or being serviced. An off-grid system may be applicable for commercial or remote properties such as rural farms where connection to the grid is impossible due to location constraints.

… you must have the space for an off-grid system.

Space for your system setup
Accepting total responsibility for your own energy independence may be a reasonable request for some, but at the end of the day, you must have the space for an off-grid system. A residential property on a residential street does not have enough space to allow an off-grid installation due to the size constraints. Off-grid systems are usually 10kW and above sized systems, based on an average solar panel size of 275w per panel, this would require 37 X 275w solar panels to be installed on your roof – many properties simply do not have this much room on the roof. Due to its associated weight that it would have on the roof structure, you will need to have your roof checked to ensure it can withstand the extra weight.

Blackout Back up
Blackouts are an issue for most Australian households; whether it be pre-planned outages to perform servicing by energy distributors or sudden grid outages brought about by rising temperatures and an overwhelming demand on the grid. Blackouts disrupt our day-to-day lives. Recent advice from market operators has been for high-energy users during peak demand periods to decrease energy usage to allow for the rest of the grid-tied users to maintain access to energy, but for many commercial users of energy this is impossible, e.g. hospitals and government agencies require uninterrupted energy access to operate, as such, so too do individuals and small businesses. Not only would you need to have space for your system installation, you will also need to have enough backup installed for you to use in the evening when the solar has finished generating for the day.

Off grid is not a set and forget installation
With grid-tied installations, you are only required to have your solar system serviced annually, and this is to ensure its longevity and compliance. Off grid systems are operating for you at all hours of the day, and you are only reliant on that system to power your home. As it is your only power source, it is essential that it receive regular maintenance and servicing inspections to ensure that power generation is uninterrupted.

Costs involved
Regular residential solar system installations have indeed decreased in price, and this has mostly been due to the increased adoption in rooftop solar PV in Australia. Over 2 million Australian homeowners have installed rooftop solar power, and this number is increasing daily. For a 4kW string rooftop PV system, the cost is typically around $3,000 – $6,000, depending on the products installed, installation requirements and installation. An off-grid system can increase that more than four-times over.

Residential properties are already connected to the grid
If you’re purchasing an existing property, or building a new property in a residential area, you will already be connected to the grid. In order to go off-grid in a residential property, you must submit applications to your relevant energy distributor for this permission to remove grid connection. This is very rarely considered in residential properties due to its rigorous process involved.

Going completely off the grid may seem like a goal for homeowners, but the costs, time, payback period and space required often than not means that this is not a suitable option for residential properties. By installing a rooftop solar system capable of meeting your energy demands, you can generate your own energy to use during the day, and in the evening, use energy stored in a battery to power the home.

… protect yourself from surge pricing …

Although its uncertainty, leaving the grid as a backup for your system if it fails on you one day, or if there isn’t any sun at all, is the best solution for residential homeowners.

Solar batteries will store excess energy that your solar system has generated throughout the day in a battery, for you to use in the evening. Evening rates for energy is habitually higher than rates during the day and this is due to the increased demand on the grid. By using your own energy that has been stored in a battery, you can protect yourself from surge pricing and regain your energy independence. 

The Goanna Solar Battery does exactly that, by storing the excess energy that your system has generated during the day, you can use this free energy when the sun goes down – protecting you from high surge pricing. It’s built-in inverter and cutting edge technology means that that it saves valuable time for your installation and minimises errors in its commission. Built-in UPS Blackout Protection ensures that in the event of a grid-outage, your energy supply remains uninterrupted.