Living Off The Grid
Off-grid power is becoming more of a reality today than ever before. From solar-powered rooftops to wind-driven generators, more and more people are supplying their homes and cottages with off-grid alternative power. A partial explanation for this trend is a result of natural disasters causing widespread power outages.
Major Power Outage
Off-grid alternative power is more important now than ever before! If you think it can’t happen, think again. On Aug 14, 2003, a downed tree hit overloaded power lines causing 55 million people in the United States and Canada to go without power for approximately three days. Hurricane Irma caused more than 7.6 million people to lose power. Having backup power is becoming more a necessity now than ever before.
No One Single Answer
Unfortunately, there is no single perfect solution for alternative emergency power generation. There are advantages and disadvantages to many of the different methods of alternative power. For example, on cloudy days solar panels would be inefficient, and on calm days wind power wouldn’t work. That said, we have devised a common off-grid setup that can help you towards building your own backup power generation.
Common Off-Grid Setup
You can use a pair of 120 W solar panels in conjunction with a natural gas-powered generator. The solar panels and generator complement each other. During times of dark cloudy weather, you can use the generator to keep your bank of batteries charged and use an inverter to provide power to your home. If the inverter fails, then you can use the generator to produce the required 120/240 V directly to your loads. The batteries would be wired to provide a 24-V system with a capacity of 440 amp hours (Ah). Please note, even if you use a gas generator, you may still need a battery bank. Also note, there are disadvantages to using batteries. For one, they are expensive (as are solar panels), heavy and full of corrosive material. Also, please contact a certified electrician and gas technician to help you with your setup.
Off-Grid Power and Emergency Communication
If a disaster or emergency forces you into the wilderness you can use smaller solar panels (producing 10 W) with a battery, charge controller and 5 W radio transceiver. This setup can give you enough power to transmit a signal with a ham radio while in the bush.
Off-grid power is just one aspect of emergency preparedness that will need your attention. The other is storing emergency food kits for you and your loved ones. Traditionally, people have stored their emergency kits inside their home at the cottage and in their vehicles.