Off-grid Power: Electricity Generation Tips for You and Your FamilyMore and more families are beginning to generate their own electricity, whether to fully meet their home's needs or supplement their regular on-grid consumption. Between the rising cost of electricity, concerns for the environment, and fear of power outages, there are plenty of factors that go into deciding to move to off-grid electricity generation. That said, there are a few tips homeowners should bear in mind when choosing the best electrical system for their needs.
Look at More Than a Home's Electrical ConsumptionElectricity generating strategies that work for one home may not work for another. While a home's electricity consumption is often flexible, things like terrain, average local weather, and natural resource access aren't. Which is more abundant in the area—sunlight or wind? Will trees block solar arrays? Photovoltaic panels generate roughly 8-10 watts per square foot. How many square feet of outdoor space can be devoted to generating electricity?
Consider a Standby GeneratorOne of the biggest things keeping renewable energy sources from achieving wider use is the fact that electricity isn't easy to store or transport. For homes that require standby power for emergencies, a propane- or natural gas-powered automatic standby generator from places like Wade Sales and Service may be the best option. These rely on liquid fuel and only turn on when a home experiences a power outage, making them an excellent addition to a home's electricity generation system.
Know Your Electric Company's Net-Metering PoliciesWho wouldn't love to pay for their home electric system by selling power back to their utility company? For net-metered homes, homeowners are only billed for their net power consumption-- their meters run backward while they are generating more power than they're using. Unfortunately, having a net-metered home isn't the case in every area and it pays to be familiar with the local utility company's policies beforehand.
Skip Major Electric AppliancesElectric heating systems, stoves, water heaters, and other large appliances will consume the majority of a home's electrical output. Consider outfitting homes with better insulation, double-glazed windows, wood stoves, and clotheslines to reduce your dependency on large electric appliances. It'll free up more power for lights, computers, and other needs.
Setting up a home for off-grid electricity generation goes deeper than picking between solar panels or wind turbines. By choosing the best strategy (or combination of strategies) for the local area, investing in a standby generator, understanding net-metering, and outfitting homes with low-electricity upgrades, it's possible to meet or exceed a home's electricity needs.
About the author: A recent college graduate from University of San Francisco, Anica loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she's used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.