In the spring of 2015, I began requesting quotes for a home power system that would enable our new home construction to go off-grid. The goal was to use solar panels to power our house and never even connect to the electric utility.
All in all, I reached out to seven different solar companies. Five of those seven, told me it couldn’t be done and the remaining two expressed reservations.
To say that skepticism was in ample supply would clearly be understating things. And after a while, even I began to question myself, ‘are these solar panels actually going to work?’
The reality is that solar panels do work if appropriate planning is done ahead of time.
I am happy to say that our home power system has continued to deliver, year after year, much to the surprise of all the skeptics. Admittedly, it hasn’t always been easy. But I think that it’s also worth noting that technology hasn’t stopped improving yet either.
The solar panels and whole house batteries available today are significantly better than what we had installed in 2015. With this in mind, one could make the assumption that it would be even easier to achieve your goals with solar panels.
Planning For Solar Panels
Like any endeavor, whether it’s building a house or planning a trip, the more you understand all the variables and plan ahead, the more likely you will have a successful outcome.
This absolutely applies to purchasing solar panels.
Here is a short list of questions any prospective solar buyer should ask themselves.
- What do I want these solar panels to do? – Do I just want to save some money on my electric bill or do I want to completely eliminate it? Do I even want to be connected to the electric utility at all?
- What is my budget? – While solar investments have historically done very well, regarding return on investment, there still is a notable up-front cost. The cost of your system will be largely determined by what type of home power system you choose to install.
- What are my power needs? – Solar panels are remarkably scalable. Because of this, a home power system can be tailored for virtually every type of situation. However, your successful result will only occur if you understand what your needs will be before you install your solar panels.
- Is my location ideal for solar panels? – Because of the current capability to cost ratios of today’s solar panels, a prospective buyer will have a lot more ‘wiggle room’ when planning for a home power system. Even so, your solar panels will need direct sunlight in order to maximize the amount of power they produce.
- Am I allowed to utilize solar panels? – It is often assumed that anyone can install solar panels. Sadly, this is not true. Any solar panel connected to the electric grid must have the permission of the electric utility… permission that can be later revoked per the utilities’ discretion.
Solar panels absolutely can and do work reliably. One need only look at the Tesla Gigafactory for proof of this. But while the performance of solar panels is well documented, so are the horror stories of those who chose to make the investment, but did so without proper preparation.
These unfortunate experiences tend to leave people jaded. However, it must be understood that the failure was not on the part of the technology, but rather a improper implementation of said technology.
As mentioned, we have been living with off-grid power since 2015. And I can say, without reservation, that a solar investment has the potential to reward you in the most positive way.