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Every day we rely on electrical energy in every aspect of our lives, be it for cooling, heating, lighting and much more. Most of the energy we consume is derived from fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal. It is then transmitted to us through the utility grid – assuming we live on it.
However, owners of homes that are off the grid have to explore other ways of powering all of the convenience we’ve become accustomed to. The answer to living off the grid is by embracing alternative sources of energy such as solar power, wind power, hydropower, and geothermal among others.
Solar generators are one way of creating your power while living off the grid. Also known as solar photovoltaic (PV), they use solar cells to capture solar energy and converting it into electrical energy, which is then stored in batteries until needed in the home.
The solar cells don’t necessarily need to face direct sunlight as they can still work on a cloudy day but with less solar power generation intensity. It is arguably the cleanest and reliable source of renewable energy available for powering your home appliances.
The wind is another form of renewable energy that can be harnessed for off-grid living. Wind energy refers to the energy we get from the wind by use of wind turbines. A turbine uses large blades to trap the flow of the wind and convert the mechanical motion into electrical energy. The more powerful the wind, the higher the revolution speed of the turbine hence more power.
Hydro Power Generation
Hydro Power generation refers to the process of generating electrical energy through the natural gravitational force of flowing or falling water. It is probably one of the oldest and most used methods of creating power that can be used off the grid is generated at a little scale.
Considering living off The Grid
Dreaming of going off the grid brings independents from the mains public power utility. However, before considering this alternative source of energy, it is crucial first to look at your economic implication and its viability.
In most cases, going off the grid is possible and practical. And this has been proven by most early renewable energy users. But most people in their wildest dreams imagine going off the grid means having no utility bills, free energy and enjoying a comfortable life. But that is far from the truth, in fact, if you were to ask someone to cut off the link from the mains utility if he had any, the answer is usually no.
It is easy to notice the various environmental advantages of using renewable energy sources, but we must also be aware of their disadvantages. One greatest constraint of living off the grid is the inability to deal with the variable resources needed for renewable energy generation.
While there are at times when renewable energy sources are in abundance, for instance on most sunny days and when there is a windstorm there are days when they are scarce as well. Depending on an individual, having to contend with some of these unpredictable situations can be satisfying to some but challenging to others.
Use of alternative sources of power also has another drawback. It is tough to generate energy power to the scale of that produced by traditional fossil-fuel power generators. Therefore this means you have to reduce the amount of load you use or built more renewable energy facilities. Moreover, to improve the reliability of renewable generation, you need to have a balance of the various power sources.
Once an off-grid source of energy such as the solar system is installed, you are not guaranteed a life without any further costs. This is because you will often need fuel for the standby generator when the renewable source is not sufficient enough, for example during the nights and on cloudy days when the batteries run low.
Cost Of Renewable Energy
Making your electrical power has a high initial cost implication. If you are already connected to the grid, and you opt to go off grid. It will not mean that renewable energy will offer a cheaper source of power. Besides purchasing photovoltaic PV panels, wind turbine or a micro-hydro system. Some additional equipment is required to monitor and control the generated electrical energy to the loads.
Batteries are used by off-grid systems to store the generated energy. And avail it for use to your power utilities, but they never last for a long time. In fact, it will be necessary to replace them every 5 to 10 years.
A small bank of batteries at the minimum will cost at least $1000. But if you opt for the long-lasting, high-quality industrial type of batteries. It will cost you thrice or more for the same application. Apart from the financial cost, you will also need to factor in their maintenance and time needed for replacement.
Engine backup generator is a necessity for most off-grid systems. When you calculate the overall cost of buying, running, and maintaining off-grid systems. You will find that it is worth staying on the grid. In fact, generators pollute the environment by the exhaust emissions they emit besides being noisy.
To make expenses worthwhile and pay off in the long run. It is important to access the viability of any of the above sources in a given area. Places that are within tropics and more so closer to the equator experiences more sunshine than those outside the tropics. It is also true that the wind intensity varies depending on your location around the globe.
Weighing the cost of staying on the grid or off the grid is an individual decision based on finances and personal values. It is important to weigh the costs first, consider the cost of extending the public utility line. Get a quote from the concerned authority and make your comparison. In summary, it is not worth going off the grid if you can access the national network with minimal costs.
Portable Air Conditioners
Portable air conditioners are cooling and heating systems that offer alternative services to your central air conditioning system. The chief energy advantage is you only need to turn them on when you need the room they’re in. The use a lot less energy than central air conditioning or whole-house airconditioning.
They are designed to be used in small spaces such as cooling a single room. Portable air conditioners have several advantages over the traditional central air conditioning systems.
Most portable units are compact and portable and are used as temporary/alternative cooling. They are not only used for cooling the air but also work as dehumidifiers. This will leave your space both cool and dry.