Have you ever considered the benefits of an off grid solar system? It will allow you to power your home if there’s no nearby grid and reduce your carbon footprint.
But before you leap into sustainable energy, you need to know what an off grid solar system is, how it works, and how to calculate the size of the system that will meet all your energy requirements. Don’t worry, though; it’s easier than you think!
Dive in and get started on the journey to becoming sustainable!
Off grid solar system: Components and working
Before we walk you through how to size an off grid solar system, you must learn what it is.
So, here’s a sneak peek!
Also known as a standalone solar system, an off-grid system is not connected to the utility grid.
It is a complete system that generates, stores, and distributes electricity to power homes, mostly in remote locations not connected to the grid.
The major components of off-grid systems have been briefly explained below.
- Solar panels: They convert the captured sunlight into DC electricity.
- Solar inverters: They are crucial in converting DC electricity into AC form of electricity.
- Charge controllers: Although essential parts of off-grid systems, nowadays, most modern inverters already come with inbuilt charge controllers.
- Battery bank: The battery stores the energy generated by the solar panels. It is a critical component since there’s no other source in off-grid systems to draw power from at night or whenever needed.
- Mounting structures: Your solar panels go on top of these. Hence, they need to be strong.
How to calculate the size of an off grid solar system?
The three most important parameters are:
- Determining your energy needs.
- Calculating the size of the system you need.
- Figuring out the size of the battery required.
Let’s explain these in detail.
Step 1: Determine your energy needs
The first step in calculating the size of the off grid solar system that’ll be able to meet your energy needs is to know those needs.
So, calculate the amount of energy your appliances and devices consume daily and monthly.
To calculate those needs, make a list of all the appliances and devices you use, along with their power ratings in watts.
Add up the wattage of the devices you use in a day and multiply that by the number of hours you use them. This will give you the total daily energy consumption in watt-hours (Wh).
Step 2: Know the units that solar systems can produce
Knowing your energy needs isn’t sufficient. You also need to figure out how many units of electricity a solar system can produce. Only when you know this parameter will you be able to buy the size that’ll fulfill your energy needs.
As a rule of thumb, a 1 KW system produces four units of electricity daily when the conditions are ideal. Based on your requirements, if your monthly consumption is roughly 600 units of electricity, you’ll need to install a 5 KW system.
Here’s another way you can do this calculation:
Divide your daily energy consumption by the number of peak sunlight hours in your location. This will give you the minimum solar panel capacity you need in watts.
Step 3: Determine the battery capacity
As we already mentioned, an off grid solar system has no other source than a battery to store energy being produced by the solar system during sunshine hours.
Hence, it becomes essential to buy the correct size battery.
Here are the details on how to do it:
Ideally, the capacity should be such that the battery doesn’t drain out even if there are cloudy or rainy days when the system will produce slightly lesser units.
To determine your battery capacity, you can calculate the depth of discharge (DOD) of the battery.
DOD is the percentage of energy that can be safely drained from a battery without damaging it.
Please note: You may need to adjust your calculations based on your specific needs. So, it’s always best to let your installers come up with the most accurate estimates.
How does an off grid solar system work?
Now, let’s walk you through the basics of how an off-grid system works. Have a look:
- Solar panels receive and trap sunlight.
- PV cells, which the solar panels are made up of, convert sunlight into DC electricity.
- A solar inverter then changes this DC power into usable AC power.
- Units not being used during the day are used to charge the battery instead.
- Units from the battery are used to keep your house running at night.
Calculating the size of your off grid solar system is a critical step in ensuring that you have enough energy to power your home if you live in a place without a grid.
Following the simple steps we’ve listed gives you a decent idea about your energy needs and the battery capacity required.
Nevertheless, talk to your installers to give you the most precise size details before purchasing the system.
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