Often I am asked about the process and reasons for creating ‘off the power grid’ as a way of living. The choice of being able to live sustainably without relying on government services like power and water is appealing. I already have rain water harvesting and storage so why not power harvesting and storage as well.
As a believer that the cost of all government services must continue their upwards spiral, the result was a strong desire to remove government mandated suppliers dependence allowing a different way of life. A sustainable way of life with freedom from controls.
A driving factor (for off the power grid) was that the electricity provider decided NOT to allow energy export from the property, but instead charged extra for having a solar installation. Not having a consumer choice, but being held to ransom by a cold hearted government body helped push me into making an ‘off the power grid’ choice.
I chose the option of installing a solar system, battery storage and some low energy usage appliances to give us this freedom on my rural property. This means no power bills together with no water bills giving an annual saving.
While I realise the traditional way of thinking ‘off the grid’ requires a high level of sacrifice I chose not to follow this route. As I enjoy comforts like electric cooking, and air conditioning this made me decide to invest the extra to create abundant power for all my luxuries.
Essentially I created an extra capacity power generation system that will ensure luxuries are maintained. I broke down the requirements into three separate sections.
- Power generation (Solar and backup generator)
- Storage batteries (for storing the power and then delivery when required)
- Consumption / usage
In order to provide ample power I decided to go for the following setup.
· 3.4 Kw solar panels on a 4 Kw inverter
· 2 x 2.6 Kw solar panels on a second 5 Kw Inverter
· 7 KVA backup generator
Total generation capacity is 8.6 Kw from solar.
· 6 Kw off grid inverter / charger (night time power inverter)
· 20.5 Kwh battery storage (Lithium batteries)
· Communication card and controller
· Energy efficient lighting (LED’s and CFL)
· Electric induction cooking (not gas)
· Energy efficient air conditioner
· Heating using traditional wood fireplace
Total investment $43,600 (including government rebates)
Return on Investment
Based on my previous annual electricity bills this would make a 24 year return on the investment (ROI), beyond the life of the lithium batteries. However if the cost of electricity and connections continue to increase at its pace in Queensland this ROI would decrease closer to 15 to 18 years. Recent NSW court rulings have permitted electricity companies to increase prices beyond CPI and I fully expect this will flow onto other states. Cost of electricity internationally is much more expensive than Australia, and I expect this will slowly fall into line with the global electricity generation costs.
Time will tell if my investment is wise or foolish, but I already enjoy the feeling of electric cooking from the suns energy.
I am happy to answer any questions in the comments section below.