In this article, I'm going to share the top renewable energy sources for off-grid homes. Off-grid living has seen an influx of interest due to rising electricity prices, growing environmental concerns, and a desire for freedom.
More and more people have decided to go off the grid and produce their own power. To some, this may seem like an unobtainable dream, but more and more people are making off-grid living a reality.
There are some people that are discouraged from going off the grid due to how overwhelming the process can seem. A lot of people are also under the impression that you’ll have to abandon living in a town or city which is a dealbreaker for most.
Luckily, modern technology has allowed multiple renewable energy options that can fit almost any type of property.
Solar is still the #1 option for generating electricity for off-grid homes. As long as you have sun exposure, you can be harnessing power and storing it. Solar is also one of the most affordable methods for generating electricity when compared to other options.
Something you'll want to consider when choosing to go with solar panels is if you'll need to use your roof to capture rainwater for your off-grid home. If the answer is yes, you'll need to incorporate a way to channel the run-off from your panels into your rainwater collection system.
Many people are repelled by the idea of installing solar panels on their homes due to the steep cost and its unattractiveness. Over time, technology has reduced the size of solar panels and turned them into photovoltaic roof tiles or solar roof tiles. These tiles look much nicer than traditional shingles and offer more protection.
These tiles can be used to replace old shingles, or it can be incorporated into the design of a new build home. The initial cost of installing solar roof tiles could be between $20,000 - $50,000 for a 2,500 square foot home depending on installation and taxes. Make sure to check if you qualify for any government or state incentives as this could help you save.
Since solar roof tiles mimic the look and function of traditional roofing shingles, your rainwater collection system will be a natural fit, if needed.
The wind is a renewable and sustainable energy source that can be channeled for use in off-grid electrical systems. Wind turbines are used to harness energy much like solar panels harness energy from the sun. Like solar panels, wind turbines have been reduced in size so they can be installed in regular homes.
The most valuable benefit of using wind turbines is that they can potentially generate electricity 24 hours per day. Generating energy from a wind turbine system is a great compliment to a solar system.
Wind can help backup your solar system on overcast days where there is little sunlight, plus it will help reduce the strain on your battery system during your nighttime energy usage.
If you live in a fairly windy area and own at least an acre of land, then a residential wind turbine may be a good option for you. As far as cost goes, one 10KW wind turbine costs between $50,000 and $60,000. This is a large amount of money to pay upfront even if it means saving 90 or 100 percent on your electricity bill.
The system will not begin to pay for itself until at least 6 years after installation. Since it is a renewable energy source, many countries offer tax breaks depending on your specific location.
Geothermal energy is a clean and sustainable energy source that is harnessed from below the earth’s surface. This energy can be supplied 24 hours a day for 7 days a week if needed.
Geothermal energy must be harnessed through geothermal plants. A home can harness this energy with the help of a geothermal heat pump.
This may sound a little unfamiliar. A geothermal heat pump is a central heating and cooling system that uses the ground as a heat source during the colder months and uses the earth to expel heat during the warmer months.
This tool can be incorporated into an existing HVAC system quite easily or it can be installed into a new build.
This system works by transferring the heat from the earth into the house or through pipes that are filled with liquid in the form of water or antifreeze. The pipes are then connected to a geothermal pump which acts as the heat or air conditioning depending on the weather.
If you happen to live in an area that has a running water source like a stream, then you may want to consider micro-hydro electricity as an option to power your home. Hydroelectricity uses running water to generate electricity. This is typically done by harnessing energy from water flowing from higher to lower places.
The system works by converting the flow of water into rotational energy which is transformed into electricity using a pump, turbine or waterwheel. Compared to the other forms of renewable energy, micro-hydro electricity is fairly cheap and simple to construct.
Despite its simplicity, there is one caveat when it comes to this system…if you don’t have running water, you cannot have micro-hydro electricity.
If you’re planning to live completely off-grid, then you’ll need a system that can handle the fluctuations in weather. This will ensure that you constantly have electricity regardless of the weather. A simple solution to this issue is to create a hybrid system.
If you have two systems that complement each other perfectly working together, then it’s possible to avoid lapses in coverage. This kind of system is much more reliable than using one singular source because your power grid will not be dependent on just one source.
This is also a cheaper option as it will use smaller components of each energy source when compared to what would be needed for a singular energy source. As for cost, a simple hybrid system can run you anywhere from $35,000 for 7.5KW to $65,000 for 15.5 KW.
Being able to harness power while off-grid allows you to be free in more ways than one. Along with the environmental benefits, using renewable energy also saves a large sum of money for those who have invested long-term.
As technology continues to advance along with renewable energy sources, making them more accessible to people in urban areas, I predict that renewable energy may see an uptick in interest.