How easy is it to go “off the grid?”

When you hear the term “going off the grid,” it makes you think about people quitting their busy jobs, packing up their belongings and moving to a secluded cabin in the woods, to peacefully live out the rest of their days. For some, this might just be the perfect retirement plan, however for many, it simply means living more sustainably and self-sufficiently.

The move to living off the grid has never been more achievable than it is today. More of us are recognising the benefits of becoming self-sufficient and independent. Due to improved access to affordable alternatives such as home solar, the declining cost of batteries, better telecommunication infrastructure and government incentives, many Aussies are now seriously considering the viability of this lifestyle.

Keep reading to learn about the benefits involved in going off the grid, some considerations and how you can work towards a sustainable option for you and your home.

What are the benefits?

Depending on how you define “living off the grid” there are a multitude of benefits to reducing your reliance on the grid  – environmental, financial as well as your own well-being.

1) Living flexibility

Historically, the only people that chose to live off the grid were those living in smaller rural towns – away from the hustle and bustle of larger cities. Today, homeowners can enjoy more energy independence regardless of whether they live rurally or right in the middle of the city. Adding solar, a battery, or even creating a high energy-rated house is only capped by your resources and imagination.

2) Cheaper electricity bills

The majority of households want to reduce their energy consumption and accompanying energy bills, but it can be hard to achieve this by only changing your behaviour (especially now that many of us are spending more time at home). When choosing to live off the grid, whether in a partial or complete capacity, you are fundamentally reducing your reliance on the traditional energy marketplace. By adding solar to your house, your investment should result in monthly savings and even earn you a Feed-in-Tariff for surplus energy.

By adding a battery to your solar system, savvy homeowners can have even more control over their own energy generation, usage and energy bills. We acknowledge that adding a battery is a longer term investment, but it provides the ideal platform towards living off the grid.

3) You’re making a cleaner energy contribution

Living off the grid ensures you are doing your part towards a cleaner future and lower carbon emissions. Did you know that a house with a standard 6.6kwh solar system stands to offset as much as 10.6 tonnes of CO2 per year? Given that most solar panels have a 25-year warranty, the carbon offset could increase to as much as 250 tonnes over its lifetime.

4) Self-sustainability

The idea of being able to generate your own energy certainly allows you to become more ‘self-sufficient.’ Much like being able to live where you like, or cultivating your own crops, there is a degree of freedom that not relying on the grid allows. Sure, you have to be more conscious of your energy usage and appliance loads, but you gain the satisfaction of being in control of your own energy cycles.

What are the key considerations?

Getting off the grid is something that needs planning. Depending on how much you wish to reduce your reliance on the grid (or work around a lack of grid infrastructure), there are a range of points to consider.

1) Upfront costs

Before committing to a complete off-grid solar system, you need to review the investment required. It’s no surprise that whilst the notion of self-sufficiency is appealing, there is a need to determine whether some reliance on the grid is necessary. Factors to be considered include your homes proximity to the grid, the size of your home, your energy requirements and a standard load profile that will detail your energy habits. If you can meet these criteria and self-reliance is an option, then the next step is to consult an energy expert to draft a plan.

2) Planning and installation

Another point to consider when looking at going off grid, is the pre-planning and installation requirements. Since the system will rely minimally or not on the grid, pre-planning is extremely important. Points to think about include the suitability of your roof structure, the appropriate size of the panels required and their placement options, battery size – whether it needs to be installed inside or outside and if you need access to the Internet.

3) Potential limit on power

It may come as no surprise that when you run a property solely or predominantly on your own power, you need to be very conscious of your energy use. Think about your home’s insulation, the optimal heating/cooling options, review the number of appliances that are plugged in and check what appliances are used during the night. You will also need to look at smart home energy solutions, which may mean replacing all your lightbulbs.

The ideal method for generation is combining solar panels with a battery addon system. This can help store excess energy created during the day for times when solar generation may be low. It’s also common to have a backup generator if the property is larger (i.e., a farm), or in an area that is susceptible to harsher weather conditions.

4) Is anyone in your house reliant on life-support?

Your installer and energy retailer will need to know whether someone in your house requires life support equipment when looking to go off the grid. This is especially important when selecting the size of battery and model of battery.

It is important to note that installing a residential solar and battery system doesn’t mean you are completely off the grid. In most cases you will still require access to the grid, but your reliance will be reduced. Choosing to live off the grid completely requires a backup source in case of blackouts or high energy usage.

Nectr’s Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solar + battery addon and VPP (Virtual Power Plant) participation option would be ideal for those who want to get the most out of their stored energy and receive credits for doing so. You can view more about how Virtual Power Plant’s (VPPs) work and what participation in Nectr’s network could mean for you by clicking here.

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