It should be everyone’s dream to have a house that is completely powered by solar energy. Not only is it incredible for the environment, something which is more pertinent now than ever, but it is also a great money saver because you’re not tied to the whims of an energy company. But, is it really possible? In short, kind of. Many people want to go completely “off-grid”, a term which means not relying on any outside source bar your panels for energy, however, there are a lot of factors involved in reaching that point. Even if it’s not possible to be completely run by solar energy, the positives to having a home that is even 60% powered by the sun’s light make the investment into solar panels worth it.
Having a suitable battery set up is very important when it comes to powering your house completely with solar as it will make sure that no energy is wasted if you don’t end up using it. Plus, it means you’re still getting ample energy even on cloudy days or during evenings without light. Having a battery won’t completely get rid of your need to rely on the grid for some of your energy as a lot of homes use far more electricity than they realise, but it will make the transition smoother and your bills cheaper.
A great way to work out how much energy you use, and therefore how much solar power you’ll need and whether it is a realistic possibility to go completely “off-grid”, is by using a calculator. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland have their own calculator online which will let you work out how much you could be saving each year and when you will see return investments. By finding out how much energy you’re currently using from your bills and working out how much you could be saving from the calculator, it can help you find out whether it is realistic to go completely solar: https://www.seai.ie/tools/solar-electricity-calculator/.
To put it into perspective, the average home uses around 4,625 kWh of electricity a year, but this relies on a number of varying factors and yours could be a lot lower than this. There are plenty of ways to lower your energy usage and therefore lower your reliance on the grid. Luckily in Ireland, we’re a lot less likely to have big drainers such as air conditioning, but taking measures in your home to reduce your energy consumption can be a huge help. Examples include adding insulation, using natural light where you can, choosing eco-friendly appliances, taking shorter showers, using a clothesline instead of a dryer and even just adding an extra layer when it’s cold rather than putting the heating on (sorry to sound like a nagging parent). These can all reduce your energy usage in the home and therefore your dependence on energy companies. You’d be surprised how much energy even the smallest appliances could be using – that morning coffee using a 2000w kettle could be draining from your solar panels generation!
There are also other factors to take into consideration. If you’re a stay at home worker, you’re obviously going to be using a lot more energy during the day than someone working a 9-5 out of the house. Having kids, whether you prefer a book before bed or watching TV and how much you use the washing machine will all affect your energy consumption. Perhaps start by trying a week of being fully-conscious about how much gas, electricity and water you’re using and make small changes as you go.
Of course, the best way to ensure you’re using more renewable energy from your solar panels is to make a bigger investment and get the best solar panel system that you can for your home. Although the initial cost will be bigger, the savings over time will be much more and you can move further towards powering your whole house with solar panels.
Our team at Caldor Solar are here to make sure that you can maximise your renewable energy potential by installing the correct solar panels, number, geographical location and direction so that you can move closer towards your goal, whether it is going completely solar or just reducing your electricity bill.
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You do not need batteries if you have a utility company who will discount you for your surplus electricity. I am still on the grid (power at night and during winter). I just pay a small administration fee since I generate more electricity than I use.
I live completely off grid., happily. Also know lots of other people doing same. Unless you are a complete wastrel there is no lack of power, anytime.
I am already doing this with 2 X powerwall 2s and 30kWp solar.
Although essentially off grid for consumption purposes, I am still connected purely for the feed in tariff and and contributing to the rest of the community. I haven’t had a negative energy day in 6 months since install. I am a sizable consumer with roughly 55 kWh per day average. We also drive 2 EVs hence the high electricity usage.
It was a big investment, and complicated by Australia’s lacks of government incentives (none), but we took our own initiative.
So I feel that most people in detached dwellings at most latitudes can do this with enough investment and/or assistance.
For me, I’ve dropped from paying up to $800 per quarter (AUD) to receiving a credit of $700. That’s $1500 per quarter, payback time is not too bad.
Best part is, when the street goes dark if the utility company wires are damaged, I can still keep my beer cold, cook dinner, keep the HVAC on and have a hot shower.
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