Off grid living is becoming more appealing to many people as the cost of energy continues to increase. Unplugging from the electric grid and producing all of your own power is now very possible. By utilizing wind turbines or solar panels, many homeowners are generating their own power, assuming their system is sized correctly. By producing some of your own electricity, you can take at least a small step towards off grid living.
Let’s start by talking about solar power. Solar panels are a great option for supplying power to many homes and can work in all parts of the world, even in remote areas or places with a harsh environment. The only thing you need is some hardware and lots of sun. If you’d like to build your own solar panel, the best guide I’ve found is Green DIY Energy Review. Solar power systems can be big or small and can even be portable to take in your RV. Solar panels can last more than 20 years if properly cared for. They are tough and require very little maintenance.
Some number of solar panels wired together are primary part of any solar power system. In the northern hemisphere, solar panels should be pointed directly south for maximum power output. With older solar panels, it was more important that they point directly at the sun and many solar power systems used motors to rotate the panels so they always pointed directly at the sun, however with more modern panels this is less important.With more modern solar panels, it is less important that they point directly at the sun, but older solar power systems often had motors to rotate the panels as the sun moved across the sky. With more recent solar panels, stationary panels work quite well as long as they are pointed directly south and at the correct vertical angle. For another good guide to building a your own solar panel visit Build Solar Panel.
Since solar cells produce Direct Current (DC), the electricity produced by solar cells can be used to power any DC appliance or to charge batteries. Electricity can be provided at night or when the sun isn’t shining by charging batteries during the day.
A power inverter can be used to convert the DC electricity from solar panels into the AC electricity that standard appliances around your house require. A power inverter can be used to do the DC to AC conversion on power coming from either the solar panels or from batteries.
Another way to begin living off grid is with the use of a wind turbine. You can mount a modern wind turbine on a pole or tower, or perhaps even on the roof of your home. These modern wind turbines are fairly small and quite efficient. If you want to generate power at night as well as during the day, wind turbines can do this which is an advantage over solar panels. As long as the wind is blowing, a wind turbine can produce electricity. To read about how to build your own wind generator take a look at Earth4Energy Review
Some people use a wind turbine together with solar panels. Both solar panels and wind turbines generate DC electricity so you can use the same batteries and power inverter with both. At night the wind turbine can produce power as long as there is a breeze and on calm, sunny days the solar panels can take over and generate electricity.
IF you want to pull the plug and begin an off grid lifestyle, either of these systems can generate enough power to allow you to do so. They will let you take your first step towards completely pulling the plug.