Years ago our family chose the option of living off the grid, and our first move was to install solar panels on our new home.
It turned out to be a really good decision as we have no regrets. If we had to do it all over again we would start by choosing solar panels for any and all renewable energy installations.
The main reason is dependability. When properly installed they will last a lifetime. What is involved in installing them?
Before we get ahead of ourselves perhaps we should explain the difference between grid tie and living off the grid.
Off Grid means that you have no ties to the power grid, power lines etc. You are virtually your own power supply company, producing your own power. This can take the form of solar, wind or if you are lucky enough microhydro.
Solar panels are by far the most common choice, and you now see them everywhere.
You do have a lot of options available as well. You can buy them or you can build your own as we have done. The choice is up to you.
Of course you will save money building your own, and if you have any diy spirit you can get the job done pretty quickly, almost as fast as ordering brand new panels. The money savings is only a small part of it though, involving your family (especially kids) in the process can be very rewarding.
If you have a son or daughter who likes to build, or takes shop class at school it will be a natural.
Have a look before you shell out the thousands of dollars it takes for manufactured new solar panels.
Being off the grid involves a new set of discipline and fortitude compared to being tied to the grid. You have to check on things regularly, and monitor your equipment daily.
Before that scares you off, it really only takes a few minutes everyday. Put your monitoring equipment, charge controllers and inverter in a very convenient place, like your home entry way and you can tell if everything is good at a glance every time you walk out the door.
The independence of an off grid home, the location really, is what drew us to make this choice. We wanted land for a garden, wood for fuel and building material and we wanted a clean water source. All those are provided on our present location.
It is important to look around if you are choosing this option, and do your research.