Since we published the article below in 2020, there have been big advancements in off-grid solar technology. In short, it means that your off-grid mindset – while still relevant – can be accommodated by this new technology, even if you want to live like you’re grid-connected in Auckland city.
It’s now possible, through inverter and battery technology, to add solar panels and additional battery modules, later. It has also led to greater overall efficiency.
The move away from lead chemistry towards the ‘safe’ lithium (Lithium Ferrous Phosphate – LFP) means expandability is now an option.
The advantages of LFP technology extend to very fast charge times, especially in low-light environments. And, under ‘normal’ New Zealand conditions, we’re seeing battery banks achieving full or near-full charging capacity only a few hours after sunrise.
How does this affect my off-grid solar mindset rating?
Quite simply, it means that if you are building a new home and are uncertain about how much power you may consume, it’s become less of a concern for you. The fact is, if you underestimate your power use, you can easily and cost-effectively add more panels and more battery storage.
Your off grid solar mindset is your practical attitude to living in an off grid environment.
The higher you are out of 10 on a scale of 1-10, the more ‘comfortable’ you are with bad weather and lifestyle disruptions.
The higher you rate yourself, the happier you are to adapt.
The lower you are on a 1-10 scale, the less comfortable you are. You don’t like inconvenience – and you don’t mind paying to not have to suffer from it.
Perhaps you could say that Kim Kardashian would be a 1 out of 10 and Bear Grylls would be a 10!
When it comes to your off grid solar mindset, most people in New Zealand are somewhere near the middle in our experience.
If you are a couple and you are both at either ends of the spectrum, then there’s some compromise to be worked out.
That’s where we can help.
Off Grid Solar Sizing can Depend on your Attitude
Your attitude to off grid living is important. This is because it can influence the size of the system we recommend and therefore the price.
For example, take a couple who have not lived out of a city before and who want to live off the grid.
Let’s assume they don’t want to change their lifestyle (this is perfectly okay with us by the way) and they insist on running an electric stove, electric oven, spa pool and a clothes dryer.
For this couple, the reality is their off grid system could be be double or perhaps even triple the price of someone who is more conservative with their energy use and who has a more practical mindset.
If you want to pay a lower price, you need to have an off grid mindset to be able to cope with living with a smaller system.
With off grid solar, you are dealing with a variable resource. Your power is dependent on sunshine hours and not always available ‘on demand’.
It can be reasonably easy to minimise the inconvenience, but it comes at the price of a larger system – and therefore a higher price.
The Cost of Convenience
For many clients, the ‘inconvenience’ is just a part of off grid living which they will accept. This could include:
Accepting that you are now managing a variable resource
Keeping an eye on the weather and your power loads – especially from June to August
Ensuring you start your generator for a good length of time once per month to ensure your battery bank ‘equalises’
‘Training’ visitors, kids or teenagers to economise with device or appliance use
Getting disciplined and taking any opportunities to ‘load-shift’ especially on bright days in winter. For example; using timers or ensuring the washing machine, dishwasher or other high draw appliances are used during daylight hours only. Doing this means these appliances will be powered directly from your solar panels (sort of) – and not the battery bank. This will preserve your battery levels for after dark.
The good news is that we’ll tell you what it takes to develop this mindset and give you all the ideas and tips to do it.
But if that all sounds too hard, and you want to live like you are plugged in to the grid, that’s not a problem either. You’ll need a bigger off grid system to handle the extra loads and you’ll pay a higher price.
You are in control – but you can’t have it both ways.
To get a custom designed off grid solar solution to fit your family and lifestyle, please get in touch for a free consultation over the phone.