Did you hear about the Queensland proposal a couple of weeks ago that proposed an 8c per kWh GROSS Feed In Tariff? That would mean Queenslanders would have to sell ALL their solar power to the retailers for 8c (yes – ALL of it – even the stuff that they used in their home). And then buy it back for about 30c.
Yup – that would be called institutionalised theft.
Stories like that make most people want to get off the grid altogether.
So I get quite a few quote requests these days for “Off Grid” solar power systems. However most people don’t fully realise what a big and expensive step it is to cut the wires to the grid.
So I made this video to explain what it really means to go off grid in 2012. I hope you enjoy it:
Here’s the transcript:
What is the difference between an On Grid and Off Grid Solar Power System?
Hi, I’m Finn Peacock and today I’m going to answer a question, “what is the difference between an on grid solar power system and an off grid solar power system?”
Well, the obvious answer is one’s connected to the grid, but what does that actually mean practically?
Well, there’s 3 big differences.
Number 1 – it means if the grid goes down and you’ve got a grid connected solar power system, you;re going to lose all your power. An off grid solar power system obviously is not dependent of the grid, so it will keep going no matter what the state of the local grid is (if you’ve even got a local grid!).
Number 2 – An off grid solar power system, let’s use a 5 kilowatt system as an example, will cost you around $50,000, wheras a grid connected solar power system that’s 5 kilowatts will cost you about $10,000. So if you’re thinking about going off grid, it’s gonna cost you a hell a lot of money.
The third difference between on grid and off grid solar is that an off grid solar system will run out of electricity if there’s is not enough sun. Depending on the size of the battery bank, say you have 2 or 3 really cloudy days with very little sunlight, you will run out of electricity because your batteries can only hold a finite amount of energy. If that happens, then generally you have a diesel generator which you can kick in to generate the electricity in need. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s so expensive because you need these backups, you need batteries, you need all the electronics to control it all that. You need to do a really careful design to make sure that you don’t run out of electricity very often or you don’t use your diesel generator very often because generally that’s very expensive way to generate electricity.
So there’s the main difference between an on grid solar system and an off grid solar system, one, obviously one’s dependent on the grid, one isn’t. Two, the off grid solar systems are still phenomenally expensive, so think long and hard if you haven’t these romantic thoughts about being off the grid, whether you can actually afford to spend $50,000 on a modest sized 5 kilowatt system.
And three, bear in mind the fact that if you have an off grid solar system you will run out of electricity every now and again, and you have to use some kind of dirty back up like diesel to generate that electricity.