Off-Grid Electricity

Not as complicated as you'd think...

In layman's terms, it's really quite simple:  Your household electronics run off electricity stored in batteries - your solar panels and/or wind generators recharge those batteries.  That's the basic idea, but there are a few details you should know.  Most household electronics use 110 volt AC (alternating current) power and batteries only store DC (direct current) power, so a conversion must take place through a device called an inverter.  Solar panels and wind generators cannot be allowed to charge continually (or the batteries will become overcharged and eventually ruined), so a charge controller must be used.  Lastly, there are some limitations in a completely off-grid system.  Large power hogs like air conditioners, electric refridgerators and laundry machines require higher loads than most battery banks can handle.  You'll have to make a few compromises...perhaps simplify your life a little.  I haven't noticed anything dramatic as yet.

See below for problems I've experienced.  I'll update this page as further problems and/or their solutions surface.


Noted Issues:

Problem:  Inverter "dirty" power.  I have a Coleman 800 watt "modified sine wave" inverter.  I had some trouble connecting to the internet because the inverter was giving off some kind of electrical field that interfered with the telephone line.
Solution:  I bought a surge suppressor made by Monster for about $100 that "cleaned up" the power, solving the interference problem.  It protects the hardware from overload *including* your modem, which not all of them protect.  It even has a warranty that covers your hardware, whether it be a computer, stereo or tv/vcr/dvd setup.


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