When living off-grid you have to think about how you are going to make your home functional, and one way can be using solar. But having solar in an off-grid cabin can be costly. I decided to research the price of going solar for your off-grid cabin.
So, how much does solar cost for an off-grid cabin? If you purchase a single solar panel and a battery box it can cost about $500-$1,000. Though if you are thinking of purchasing a more reliable or extensive system, that can cost you about $6,000-$10,000.
It is important to note that when thinking about purchasing a solar system to live off-grid that you will need to consider how much of that energy you will be using. Deciding on a system to purchase can be quite a tricky thing to figure out, but listed below will be the help you need in choosing a system, figuring out how much of that power you will need, and where it will be going.
Choosing an Off-Grid Solar System
An off-grid solar system is not simply just a solar panel attached to the roof of your house. When creating a solar system you will need to assemble, test certain parts of the system and wire it as well.
There are key components that go along with creating a functioning system. All of these components have a specific function that helps with creating the best system and can also give you the best experience while living in an off-grid solar cabin.
Those components are:
- Power Center
- Racking System
Function Behind the Components
(1) Batteries make the experience of off-grid solar possible. Without a utility grid (which basically is a power distribution system that can take energy from a generator) you will need to find a secure way to store energy.
That way is through keeping a battery bank which helps keep your appliances running during the night and even in the winter. it is extremely important to purchase a battery bank that can keep energy stored through times where the sun may not be shining as often.
Some commonly used battery types (known for living off-grid) are listed below:
- Flooded Lead Acid: This type of battery has a high capacity and can be purchased either online or local stores and even car dealerships. This battery can last you up to 3 years but will need maintenance every 30-45 days. The battery bank can cost $972.
- Sealed Lead Acid (AGM or Gel): Sealed batteries can be created to last a long time and hold a high capacity. Especially in areas where living off-grid can demand a lot from it. This battery can last 7 years and it doesn’t require maintenance. This battery bank can cost $1,042.
- Lithium: Finally, a lithium battery. This specific battery has the longest lifespan of the two above. It can also be recharged faster and quicker. This will last you 10 years and also doesn’t require maintenance. This battery bank can cost $6,495.
(2) Solar Panels one function is to absorb sunlight and covert that sunlight into electricity which one can use to power a number of things. This can be a very vital thing if one is living off-grid, you can receive power and electricity without having to go through local power lines.
When choosing a panel you will need to refer back to the type of battery you have since it needs to be compatible to work. You will need to check the amperage, string size and voltage on the panel and battery to make sure nothing gets damaged.
- Canadian Solar 275: This panel is compatible with the Flooded Lead Acid battery bank. With a silver frame and white back sheet, this panel is apart of a standard series. And depending on the number of watts you purchase the price can be raised. A 325W panel can cost $315, while a 275W panel is $170.
- SolarWorld USA SWA 285: The Sealed Lead Acid battery bank is compatible with this solar panel. It comes in all black, and this is mainly for those who would like to buy it to be more aesthetically pleasing.
- This panel is different for its 20-year warranty compared to other panels being sold for only 10-year warranties. A 350w panel can cost $265, a 285W panel is $219, and a 295W panel can be bought for $229.
- Mission Solar 305: The Lithium battery is most compatible with this panel. The look of this panel is black frame and white back sheet. This is just as reliable as the SolarWorld panel. It can be purchased for $249.
(3) Power Center is an inverter system with almost everything you need found inside; inverter, charge controller, remote control, and a pair of circuit breakers. When assembled, these power centers are tested to make sure they are working correctly and efficiently.
(4) Racking System is when you decide to place your solar panels on either the roof of your home or on the ground. Racking them prevents any damage from being done whether it comes from falling off the roof of your home, or falling of the mount on the ground.
Roof-mounts: need clamps to hold your panel in place.
Ground mounts: will need to face the sun directly during the peak hours, so placing it can be a process. Another neat thing about ground mounts if being able to have adjustable pole mounts that can be raised during snowy months.
(5) Add-ons are just extra components your system may need for protection or monitoring. An example being battery monitors and surge suppressors can help you keep an extra watchful eye on your system to help it run as smooth as it can.
Even though creating a system can be stressful and confusing by following the guidelines above and even speaking to a professional over the phone can help make the experience a bit easier.
Knowing Where Your Power is Going
While figuring out how to create your own solar off-grid system can be tricky, another thing to be cautious about is where this energy, that you will be using, is going.
If you’re someone who lives on-grid, chances of you knowing how much power you are using in your day to day life are slim-to-none. That is okay. Not everyone can keep track of that, but unfortunately living off-grid and relying on a solar system will mean you have to be conscientious of the power you’re using.
To figure out how much energy you will be using on your new system, you will need to look at the list of things you are currently using most of your power on.
On top of being concientious of where you spend power on you will need to think about the area you live in.
Does your spending on power change month to month? Do your needs change when the winter months roll by? What is the usual climate you live in?
An easy assumption that can be made if you live an on-grid lifestyle would be that you spend most of your energy and power on:
- an air conditioner
- electric furnace
- water heater
- clothes dryer
- stove or oven
- and dishwasher
Don’t worry, there’s something good that can come from all this use of energy. With these items being used in your day to day, you can reduce and replace these things with a different fuel. That way you can control how much energy is being used around your home.
If you’re still a bit confused on how to change the power usage of those appliances listed above, I can explain.
- If you’re prone to leaving your TV or computer plugged in all day you can resort to a power strip. Which you can turn off or even unplug that way you can eliminate that use of power.
- If you have a refrigerator, water heater, dryer, and stove guess what? That all can run on propane, which can save you money! If you want, you can even hang-dry your clothes, hand wash your dishes, and use a solar water heater.
- Instead of using a traditional heater that uses forced air, try using a wood stove that way it can radiate heat instead.
- If you use air conditioning you can go without it. It may sound tough if you live in a hotter area but it’s worth a try, right?
- Drinking coffee from your Keurig or drip brew does not have to be a thing of the past either. You can instead purchase a french press or a percolator which some say tastes better anyway!
- Microwaves and toasters seem to be essential to anyone’s kitchen, and you can still have that in your off-grid kitchen as well but just alter it a bit. You can just purchase a microwave that’s a bit smaller!
There are so many ways to reduce the amount of power you use in your day to day life. A lot of people think it is a difficult change in their lives but little to they know it is simply a small adjustment.
Living off-grid and off a solar power system does not have to be something you suffer through, you can make the experience enjoyable. By following the small adjustments list above you can practice conserving your energy before you decide to jump into the world of living off solar power.
Is Going Solar Worth It?
There can be a lot of people who argue that living solar and off-grid can have its difficulties, but what they fail to realize is the positives of that lifestyle.
Many people feel that living off-grid can be relaxing since you are able to be flexible in where you choose to live. If you like wide, open spaces and nature than off-grid living is probably a choice lifestyle for you!
Along with the positive impact it causes on your everyday life, off-grid living can also have a great impact on the environment! Global warming has become a popular topic today and it is encouraged to change current lifestyle choices to better improve the environment we live in.
Finally, the best positive of all is the low monthly rates that living off of solar can provide. Despite the cost of initially purchasing a solar power system, over time the costs of living with it can give you a monthly saving of $84.
Which, projected 20 years in the future can be up to $20,000! That is a whole lot of money you’re saving, which you can use towards other expenses for your home. Whether that be appliances or just household essentials.
How much does a cabin solar power system cost? Depending on what kind of system you choose to purchase, and the amount of Watts it holds you can purchase a cheap 150W system for $859.
How long do solar batteries last? A solar battery can be quite useful for the amount of time it can last, the average lifespan of a solar battery is between 5 to 15 years.
How long do solar panels last? Solar panels are knon for their ability to last a long time, the average lifespan of a solar panel is between 25 to 30 years.