Divorcing the Grid Going Solo with Solar Power Systems

In This Chapter

^ Looking at the pros and cons of living off-grid ^ Specifying the right solar power systems ^ Looking at a real-life scenario a W ff-grid means you're not connected to a public utility for your electrical power. The term usually also means you're not connected to utility gas, water, and sewer. However, in this chapter, I address only electrical power because that's the angle that solar can solve. (Myriad books and magazines are dedicated to going completely off-grid if you're interested.)

Here are a few reasons for going off-grid:

i No utility power is available, period. This situation may be the case if you're living in a remote location. You have a number of options, but solar power is one of the best, particularly if you're concerned with pollution. Solar solutions include not only PV panels and solar water heating systems but also wind and water power, so the options are diverse.

i Bringing utility power in costs way too much. If you're off the beaten path, you can probably get the utility company to bring power in, but you'll have to pay for the long line lengths and poles, trenches, and the like. This job can sometimes cost more than $100,000. A standalone solar power system can save you a lot of money.

i You just want to be off-grid because of the allure of independence.

Perhaps you just plain don't like utility companies and abhor paying their monthly bills. Perhaps you love the idea of going completely green. Perhaps you're just a grouchy old soul who answers the door for nobody because you think the entire world is, well, stupid. During power blackouts, the rest of the world will go black while you're still chugging away without skipping a beat. This is ideal if you like to gloat.

In this chapter, I tell you what to expect when you go off-grid, how to evaluate your system needs, and what an off-grid system may look like.

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