Join date: Nov 22, 2022


The disadvantages of off-grid solar

Despite some great benefits, there are several valid reasons why the vast majority of US households choose to remain connected to the grid when they install solar on their homes.

Some key issues with going off the grid include:

Off-grid might actually be illegal where you live

While installing solar panels and generating your own electricity is gaining traction across the US, some counties have made it illegal to completely unplug from the grid. Such legal restrictions related to going off-grid are generally more common in metropolitan areas than in more rural areas.

Off-grid solar power systems are expensive

A solar panel setup that supplies all the energy needs of a home tends to be very expensive.

Compared to a grid-connected solar system, an off-grid solar system requires more panels, an inverter with a higher voltage capacity, and a large amount of solar battery storage.

And since there’s no grid to fall back on, you will want to purchase a gas or diesel-powered backup generator, and these are very expensive to run. This also adds greater urgency when repairing faults in your off-grid system because generators cannot be relied upon for too long.

Off-grid solar is time-consuming

Making the commitment to produce enough power to meet all of your household’s needs is an extremely challenging task.

A fairly advanced understanding of how electricity works is required. Because generating power is an exact science, you will have to spend time calculating the precise amount of power that needs to be generated, based on your energy usage patterns.

Time will need to be spent ensuring you are keeping power waste at a minimum. And because power generation can be unpredictable, you will have to constantly monitor your power supply.

You also must learn about the equipment used to generate power and be capable of fixing any and all faults.

No SGIP rebate for off-grid solar in California

California California’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) is one of the largest battery storage incentives in the country. Eighty percent of the incentive's budget is allocated for battery storage.

People can save thousands of dollars on batteries with the SGIP rebate, especially if they live in fire hazard districts. But the catch is that SGIP is only available for grid-tied solar systems with battery backup — and not for pure off-grid solar systems.

Off-grid solar entails major lifestyle sacrifices

Talk to anyone with an off-grid solar system, and they will tell you the same thing: relying on off-grid power requires you to completely reevaluate your relationship with energy.

The high cost of off-grid solar means homeowners are forced to install relatively small systems. The amount of power available is often further limited by inclement weather: a cloudy day may result in power output reductions of 50% or more.

Running out of power leaves you in a bind. You will either have to wait for the sun to come out again or generate power using a backup diesel generator (if you have one). The first option is very inconvenient, while the second is very costly.

These constraints can affect every aspect of your life. Many off-grid folks, for instance, say the need to conserve power means they have to economize on water as water pumps consume a lot of power; this means short showers and less frequent flushing. Air conditioning, an even bigger power guzzler, can only be used for limited periods, if at all.