WHAT IS AN OFF-GRID SOLAR SYSTEM?
An off-grid / standalone system is a solar system not connected to the utility grid.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
An off-grid system produces its own electricity via solar power, windmills, microhydro turbines, generators, etc. These systems usually store the electricity for as-need use via a battery bank; but there are standalone systems that directly connects a solar panel to a DC load. However, these direct-coupled solar systems are not as powerful as those that use battery banks. A directly connected solar system is capable of powering some household appliances on nice sunny days, but systems coupled with battery banks are by far the most powerful.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF AN OFF-GRID SYSTEM?
An off-grid photovoltaic solar system does not depend on any public utility grid for backup power. Thus, if the city's grid goes down, you will still have power. The off-grid system allows you complete independence from local power grids. For homeowners in remote locations, setting up an off-grid solar system can be more affordable than attempting to erect power poles, or to extend a power line to the nearest power pole.
Additionally, since the off-grid solar system is entirely powered by sunlight, it significantly reduces your carbon footprint.
WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES OF AN OFF GRID SYSTEM?
The off-grid system can be expensive to install and expensive to maintain. Because the standalone system relies on the battery bank to store power, the bank must be large enough to power a home even during the darker winter months. Once the battery bank is full, any excess energy generated by the photovoltaic system will be lost. These battery banks last, on average, five to seven years, and can be pricey when the time comes to replace them.