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Looking to live off the grid? For many Australians, it’s the new ‘sea-change’ with increasingly more families opting for a self-sufficient existence without reliance on public utilities.
As power prices continue to skyrocket, the notion of going off grid gains added momentum, in both metropolitan and regional areas.
Many are already asking when will green technology be sufficiently advanced to make it cost-effective to go completely off the grid, especially from an electricity usage perspective.
For others, the move to off-grid living is more about sustainability, reducing ecological destruction and ensuring a healthier planet for future generations.
Authorities predict that entire communities, including major towns, could soon opt to look after their own power generation needs while governments and energy generation industry bodies continue to wrestle with technology, culture and economic challenges.
Government-funded schemes are already in place to encourage people to look towards renewable power options.
If you’re considering stand-alone power options to move partially or fully off the grid, you’ll need to research available alternative power sources to suit your lifestyle goals.
Most popular off-grid power sources include generators, solar energy, wind and small-scale hydro (water) power generation. In many cases, a backup generator may still be needed with renewable energy options such as solar and wind power.
Here’s a look at some of the top off-grid power sources.
If you’re planning on relying on a generator to power multiple appliances for long periods, then you will need a high capacity diesel generator. These are the workhorses of power generation and are a cost-effective and reliable source of electricity.
Smaller diesel generators are also a superior choice as a backup generator, used to support failures in other power sources or as an occasional use system
Cheaper, smaller and portable petrol-powered generators are also available but recommended for occasional short-term use only.
Read our blog articles that explain the differences between generator types or contact the team for more information on the best generator type for your requirements.
Taking advantage of the sun’s natural energy is one of the most common power sources for off-grid living. Generally, it’s also one of the most versatile power options – especially in Australia where sunshine is abundant.
Producing power from the sun involves the use of photovoltaic solar panels (which absorbs the sun’s energy and converts it into usable power), an inverter and batteries. You may also need a backup generator to ensure you have enough power during off-peak times.
As effective as solar energy is, consecutive heavily overcast days won’t always generate enough sunlight to charge storage batteries and provide you with a steady and reliable power source. This is where a backup generator may be handy. To guarantee a good power supply with solar energy, here are the essential supplies you’ll need.
Hydro technology uses running water to generate electricity. As with solar energy, hydropower systems support off-grid living by cutting down on power bills, providing cost-effective heating and hot water and cutting your carbon footprint.
Although the initial installation of a hydropower system can be expensive, it can be a long-term cost-effective option for off-grid homes.
Hydropower systems, also known as micro hydroelectricity, are one of the lesser-known alternative power options.
To benefit from micro-hydro, your location needs to have a stream. One of the biggest advantages of hydropower systems is its power consistency. Because it’s not dependent on changing weather patterns such as sun and wind, power is produced 24 hours a day. As a result, fewer batteries are needed to store energy because there rarely isn’t a time the system isn’t harvesting energy.
On the flip side, its specific location requirements, system maintenance and consistent calculating of water flow can be a drawback.
If the average wind speed in your area is fit for the job (start by contacting your local weather service), wind electricity can be a great power source for off-grid living.
Through residential-sized wind turbines, wind energy is harvested and converted into electrical energy. The wind turbines can capture and produce power day or night but require consistent wind speeds of around 7-9 metres a second to be a worthwhile investment.
To determine whether your off-grid living location is eligible for wind electricity, you’ll need to collect data over a 12- month period using an anemometer. This will provide seasonal averages. Coastal locations and flat rural areas away from a lot of buildings and vegetation is important to benefit from wind technology.
Wind turbines can be used in the following way:
As with solar energy, wind electricity may require the use of a backup generator to keep a reliable and consistent supply of power.
To make wind technology work for you, you’ll need to contact your local council to find out any height restrictions for the turbine. Because wind turbines have moving parts, maintenance and possible failure are the biggest drawbacks.
Depending on whether you go fully or partly off-the-grid, you may need more than one form of energy source.
At the least, we recommend a backup generator to support your off-grid power generation ambitions. For more information about what generator will work best with your alternative power speak to one of our specialist team today.
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