Lots of people wish, even dream of living off grid, not depending on the city’s services. It might be for different reasons, either a personal or economical choice. Being able to produce your own electricity, having a water self sufficiency system, theses things are getting more and more into people’s mind. Some might even want to produce their own food! Off-grid sounds pretty cool, but what does that involve? Well…being eco-friendly comes at a cost, plus you’ll have to make compromises. On the other hand, there will always be a return on your investment and you will significantly reduce your ecological footprint. Isn’t that why we all want for our future?
In this article, we will explore the different types of energy you might want to use when you chose to set your little home in complete or semi autonomy. Our goal is to enlighten you regarding your different options, their pros and cons , depending on different factors. We will start with solar energy, wind power and end up with solutions in terms of gas supply.
The concept behind the photovoltaic (PV) system is quite simple. Different components, such as solar panels in most cases, absorb sunlight through solar cells and then converts it into electricity. This DC current is stored in your batteries and can feed your 12V system. It can also be converted into alternative current (AC) with an inverter to supply most of the high consuming appliances in your home, such as the refrigerator and the washing machine. As prices for performing batteries are expected to decline, investing in a high quality energy storage unit is a smart choice. Lots of companies are entering this growing market, rising the standards each year, offering products that are more and more efficient. A good example is Tesla, an inspiring company, always coming with brilliant ideas to make a better future.
In which situation is a solar system the best option?
You might face a situation where your house is located on a land that hasn’t any services (water, electricity, sewing system). You might also not agree with the type of energy that is provided by your city. In certain locations in Canada and the USA, the energy provided is considered ‘’not clean’’, like nuclear or fossil energy. Indeed, this graphic represents the proportions in terms of types of energy produced and offered in the United States in 2013. It clearly tells why people want to produce their own renewable green energy.
Electricity prices are getting horribly high, as you can see on this comparative table between the 21 biggest cities in north America. You might notice that Quebec province is still quite affordable, almost twice cheaper than our neighbors from Ontario! :
If you go for solar energy, you will need an alternative source of energy for appliances such as a water heater, heating system, cooling system and oven. For a 100% off-grid setup, propane or natural gas is a must. You can also connect your house to the city supply and create a hybrid (grid-tie) installation, a good compromise if you don’t want to invest in an expensive battery system.
Another clean energy! Wind power’s concept is to convert kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy to supply generators and produce electricity. No greenhouse gas, renewable, it is one of the most ecological source of energy. But wind is unstable, so it’s important you have a backup alternative. You can connect you wind turbine to your 12V system with batteries just like solar panels. There are more and more domestic wind turbines on the market, especially in Scotland, where wind’s presence is constant. That brings a reality check…unless you are certain about the consistency of the wind in your area, or you want to add to an existing system, we do not recommend this type of energy as your main source.
First of all, we won’t be talking about natural gas, as we specialize in propane furnitures for our houses. Also, natural gas, when discharged into the environment is a greenhouse gas whereas propane is not classified as such. Propane is not toxic and will not harm the environment when released in the atmosphere. It is a green fuel and we recommend it for all your highly consuming appliances.
When you want to keep warm in winter and cool during hot summer days, it is practically impossible to be off grid without propane. It’s also really convenient when it comes to cooking, you might already know that most of the best cooks use propane stove. Of course, every propane installation has to come with a propane detector for safety. It will go off way before the danger point.
We talked about different types of energy in this article. In all cases, creating your own energy can’t be anything but good. For some people, ecology takes precedence over economy! Remember that either with a PV system or wind power installation, you might want to add a propane feature to make your off grid experience more convenient. Before buying anything, make sure to ask yourself these questions:
– What type(s) of energy(ies) do I have access to?
– How long am I willing to wait before a return on my investment?
– Ecological or economical?
– What is my daily energy use?
When you’re willing to make compromises, it it easy to lower your cost of life. Creating your own energy is a part of that. Feel free to question us about the off grid life! Join us in the movement and go forward with your ecological projects…a change for our future!