Most standard solar systems you see in residential homes are grid-tied. They remain connected to the public grid and produce energy for your homes. Additionally, they send your excess energy back to the grid. On the contrary, an off-grid solar system isn’t connected to the grid. This means you won’t be able to pull energy from a utility. This type of system is best suited for RVs and off-grid properties. In case, you want to buy an off-grid solar system this list of the best off-grid solar system will be of great help. It also includes the best off grid solar system for tiny houses.
How Do Off-Grid Solar Systems Work?
Before learning about the best off-grid solar system, it’s important to learn about the working of this system. This system doesn’t rely on the grid for power at times when the sun isn’t out, it instead uses a solar battery or an energy storage system to store the excess energy produced by the solar panels.
The battery bank can then be used as a solar generator and can be called on to provide power at night or during cloudy days when solar energy generation is likely to go below demand.
When your panels are generating more power than needed, the excess energy gets routed to the batteries. When solar production goes down, your home will pull whatever energy that panels have produced and will also seek the energy stored in the solar generator.
Even with an off-grid solar system, you’ll be able to fully power your home, provided that this system is sized appropriately for your RV or home and the combined power from your batteries and solar panels can provide enough electricity to power your home. Thus, it is ideal for non-grid-tied applications.
Off-grid systems provide you the freedom to electrify just about any solar project or home in any remote location. Additionally, installing an off-grid system is often straightforward as it is like a DIY home improvement project.
Equipment In an Off-Grid Solar System
An off-grid system isn’t just a single component, it is a lot more than just a battery and an array of solar panels. Its equipment includes-
- Solar panels
- A solar charge controller
- Solar batteries
- A solar inverter
- Mounting equipment
Solar panels are the component of this system that harnesses solar energy from the sun. Without these panels, your RV or home would never have power. As long as the array of solar panels is properly sized for your energy demands, you can use just about any solar panel. Solar storage options range in size and capacity.
Although not every off-grid system uses a solar storage solution. These solutions might be needed if you want to access electricity at all times of the day.
A charge controller is sued by some off-grid systems to route the energy collected from the panels directly to a device for charging. These controllers are there to prevent overcharging when the sunlight on your panels is sufficient. Additionally, they provide more complicated setups that also require inverters.
If you have installed a solar system in an off-grid home and you plan to use the electricity as normally as you could, you’ll need an inverter. These devices are used to convert direct current (DC) energy collected from the sun into AC (Alternating Current) energy. The AC power is used to plug an electronic device or turn on a light. This is why conversion is mandatory.
It’s quite possible to do without an inverter if you have installed a charge controller or if you have batteries with a setup that utilizes DC electricity. Mostly, you’ll find these DC setups in RVs (Recreational Vehicles) and sometimes even in tiny homes.
Finally, you’ll need wiring and mounting equipment. Roof brackets are used to mount rooftop solar systems. However, depending on the location as well as the size of your solar system, you might use another mounting option, such as pole mounts or ground mounts. You’ll need wiring to connect all the above-mentioned components.
5 Best Off-Grid Solar System
Below, we have included a quick list of our top 5 best off-grid solar system. This list also explains a few important product specifications. Let’s start exploring the list-
1. Renogy 100W Panel Off-Grid Solar Kit
Renogy offers one of the best off-grid solar system in the market. It comes with four 100-watt solar panels for a total output of 400 watts. This indicates that this system is quite suitable for smaller applications. With additional panels, you can even expand the power of this system.
For easy connection of appliances or devices, this system comes with a charge controller. The charge controller is a PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) instead of an MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) controller. However, it still is great for connecting devices to your panels.
This kit is also equipped with Bluetooth modules and it lets you connect the system wirelessly to check its performance. Most other off-grid systems don’t include this innovative option. It lets you set up the batteries and keep an eye on storage as well as the production of your solar energy. This ensures that you don’t experience a blackout.
The con about this system is that it doesn’t include an inverter or batteries, so if you want to go fully off-grid with reliable power, you’ll need to buy these separately. However, Renogy does sell good 100-amp, deep-cyle batteries for about $300 each. So, you can easily add these to your system.
Moreover, Renogy is a trusted name and it provides you with high-quality materials with durable components. You’ll also get a warranty of 5 years on the materials and workmanship.
Additionally, Renogy equipment is also waterproof. They have a waterproof rating of IP67 and IP65. This allows you to install the system in any location with confidence.
Many Renogy products are available on sites like Home Depot and Amazon. So, you’ll have no issues getting your hands on the equipment.
|Watts||400 watts (can be expanded)|
|Equipment Included||4x 100W PV panels, charge controller, Bluetooth module for wireless solar monitoring|
|Best For||Overall Usage|
|Warranty Coverage||5 years for equipment and workmanship|
2. Eco-Worthy 1,200W Solar Power Kit
If the process of connecting solar system components yourself makes you intimidated, then this DIY-friendly Eco-Worthy 1,200W kit is one of the best off-grid solar system for you.
This system comes with six 200W solar panels to produce a whopping 1200 watts of power. Thus, the system is very compatible with small grid houses, detached garages, sheds, or other structures that are off the grid.
This Eco-worthy system includes a pure sine wave inverter (PSW inverter) and two 100 amp-hour batteries to provide power even when the sun isn’t shining over the panels. Finally, you also get a Bluetooth module that helps you monitor your production and energy storage. It is ideal for keeping a watch over your production as well as energy storage.
One of the best things about this kit is that its instructions are pretty simple to follow. There are a variety of installation videos about this system online. Even its printed instruction sheet comes with easy-to-follow wiring diagrams and installation instructions. Additionally, if you have any questions or issues, the company has a 24/7 customer service line.
You can also invest in a solar tracking kit from Eco-worthy in case you are looking for the maximum amount of energy for your solar-powered project. This mounting structure pivots and tilts your solar panels to ensure the optimal angle for energy collection.
The solar panels that come with this system offer an efficiency rating of 21%, a tracker kit will help you make this system more suitable for larger solar projects as well.
|Equipment Included||6x 200W PV panels, 3,000W inverter, 2x 10 amp-hour batteries, mounting equipment|
|Best For||Easy Installation|
|Warranty Coverage||1-year warranty for all equipment|
3. WindyNation 400W Solar Kit
The WindyNation 400W solar kit is among the best off-grid solar system. It is best for small solar projects. Its price is about twice the price of Renogy off-grid systems. However, the WindyNation system comes with more equipment that allows you to go off-grid.
This system comes with four 100W solar panels, an inverter, a charge controller, wiring to hook up your system, four 100 amp-hour batteries, and brackets for easy solar installation.
This system is ideal for a small cabin, remote home, or even an RV to use off-grid renewable energy. You’ll have everything you need to produce as well as store electricity during cloudy days and at night.
This system also comes without an inverter and costs about $600 less. However, to utilize the energy you collect, it still comes with a PWM charge controller.
WindyNation is a quite reliable solar manufacturer and it offers a 5-year warranty for its panels, a 25-year warranty for power production, and a 1-year warranty on its other components (including batteries). Its products are also easily available on Amazon and Home Depot.
|Watts||400 watts, but can be expanded|
|Equipment Included||4x 100W PV panels, 4x 100 amp-hour deep cycle batteries, inverter, controller, mounting equipment|
|Best For||Small Applications|
|Warranty Coverage||5 years for panels, 1 year for other equipment, 25 years for panel efficiency|
|Price||$1,900 (or around $1,300 for smaller system)|
4. Renogy 800W Monocrystalline Solar Panel Premium Kit
Well, Renogy makes it to our list again with its 800W monocrystalline solar panel premium kit. Overall this kit is a bit expensive and has a higher cost per watt.
This system comes with eight 100-watt solar panels that provide a total output of 800 watts. Just like other Renogy systems, this one also comes with high-efficiency solar panels that can help you make the best out of the solar power in even low-sun conditions.
This Renogy system comes with an MPPT charge controller that helps maximize energy conversion and a Bluetooth module that lets you monitor your system in real-time. This is a great option if you want to keep track of your solar production and monitor the amount of energy you have stored if you couple the system with batteries.
Just like other Renogy systems, even this system doesn’t include batteries. However, its charge controller is fully compatible with a variety of batteries. So, you’ll have no issues coupling your system with a battery storage solution. To maximize battery efficiency as well as extend battery life, the controller comes with four charging modes.
The biggest advantage of this system is its warranty coverage. Renogy covers the equipment and workmanship for 10 years, which is great for a do-it-yourself solar system. It also guarantees that for at least 25 years, the system will stay at or above 80% efficiency. This makes sure that you enjoy maximum production for as long as possible.
|Equipment Included||8 PV panels, MPPT charge controller, Bluetooth module, mounting equipment|
|Best For||Warranty Coverage|
|Warranty Coverage||10 years for equipment and workmanship, 25 years for efficiency|
5. ACOPower 800 Watt Monocrystalline Black RV Solar System
This is a fully functional off-grid solar system from ACOPower. It comes with four 200-watt solar modules that provide a whopping 800 watts. This system is designed for use in RVs but it can also be used in tiny houses, cabins, or just about any other off-grid dwelling where you need constant electricity access.
This system has the best backup power as it has four 200 amp-hour 12-Volt batteries. This is the largest battery capacity of any off-grid system mentioned in this list. This system is ideal for places that receive ample sunlight accentuated by cold weather. It provides about 800 amp-hours of energy which should be enough to maintain electricity in most off-grid arrangements.
This system also comes with a charge controller for easy access to your live-time energy production. For easy conversion of your DC energy from the sun into AC electricity for typical power sources, it also has an inverter. Additionally, it has an MPPT charge controller for maximum energy conversion.
The biggest drawback of this is that it only has a limited warranty of 2 years. The warranty only covers issues arising due to manufacturing defects.
Although this solar system is a bit expensive it is totally worth the money. It provides you with consistent and reliable access to solar energy.
|Equipment Included||8x 200 watt PV panels, charge controller, inverter, 4x 200 amp-hour batteries, mounting equipment|
|Best For||Backup Power|
|Warranty Coverage||2 years for manufacturer defects only|
Also Read: 7 Best Solar Hybrid Systems
5 Best Off-Grid Solar System For Cabin or Best Off Grid Solar System For Tiny House
These are the best off-grid solar system for cabin or best off grid solar system for tiny house-
1. AltE Tiny House Off-Grid Solar Power Kit
AltE offers some off-grid solar systems among the best off grid solar system for tiny houses. This off-grid solar system can produce a massive 2,160W. It comes with a combiner box, six 360W monocrystalline solar panels, a solar inverter, and a charge controller. Additionally, there are some add-on options that have solar mounting bundles and batteries. These help you customize the solar system as per your needs. This off-grid system also comes with a surge protection device. This system is quite expensive but it can easily power a tiny home or a cabin.
The best part about this system is that it offers high-power output and it offers a variety of options to customize the system on the basis of your energy needs.
- Power Output: 2,160W
- Price: starts around $6,140.34
- Components included: 6 360W monocrystalline solar panels, combiner box, charge controller, solar inverter, options to add solar batteries and mounting materials
- Warranty: 10-year material warranty for panels, 5–7.5 years based on battery choice
2. ECO LLC 900W 24V Complete Off-Grid Solar System
ECO LLC 900W 24V Complete Off-Grid Solar System is among the best off-grid solar system for cabin. It is for people who live in snowy or rainy environments. It can withstand all weather conditions and that is why it is ideal for extreme outdoor use. It can be used to power your RV, home, or camp.
It has corrosion-free aluminum and its frame is also quite lightweight making it quite portable. Its glass is also anti-reflection and reinforced with many safety features.
It has an electrical output of about 2.5 kWh per day and provides a 1-year warranty on manufacturing defects. The biggest con of this system is that it doesn’t have enough wiring. Additionally, it doesn’t have an instruction manual. Thus, it’s not ideal for beginners.
Also See: 3 Best Solar Panel Roof Mounting Systems
3. Selectronic SP Pro
If you are looking for a medium-sized off-grid system that can power the majority of your home then go for Selectronic SP Pro. It is great for a large RV or an RV with AC. It comes with a solar hybrid and off-grid option. Additionally, it has a generator controller to help maximize efficiency.
4. Sol-Ark 12K
This powerful inverter is one of the best off-grid solar system for cabin or the best off-grid solar system for tiny house. Sol-Ark 12K is great for an off-grid solar system and can power your entire home. It can produce 12 kW and its peak power is 20 kW. Its max PV input is 16.5 kW which is notably higher than many other systems.
For off-grid production, it can support about 8000 watts of continuous power. It comes with a 96% efficiency rating and thus it needs less direct sunlight. It also has a three-phase power battery. It has a 10-year warranty coverage. It is also quite user-friendly.
5. Victron MultiPlus
Victron MultiPlus is a 12-volt pure sine wave invert that comes with 120 amps. It has adaptive charger technology and is an excellent battery charger. It comes with an in-built power assistant feature that prevents the overload of a limited AC source.
The inverter has a quite fast activation and within 20 ms it can take over the supply to connected loads. This is specifically important if you decide to stay connected to the grid and the system fails.
It also offers split-phase or three-phase operations which give you more versatility and flexibility. Additionally, it can operate nearly six multiplus units in parallel and give you unlimited power.
Its installation is quite tricky and you should hire a professional to do this job. All in all, you can go for this system as it is quite portable and lightweight. It is quite ideal for a small house or a cabin.
Also Read: 8 Best 3000 Watt Inverter
What Should You Consider When Buying An Off-Grid Solar Panel System?
Choosing the best off-grid solar system isn’t an easy task, especially if it’s your first time choosing one. While you go through the different options of off-grid solar systems in the market, there are certain things you should keep in mind. This will help you make the process of buying an off-grid solar panel system smoother. Some of these things are-
1. Energy Needs
The very first thing you should consider before choosing any off-grid solar system is your solar project’s size. You need to size all the solar panel systems on the basis of the energy you consume. A quick calculation will help you learn what size system will be able to meet your demands.
You should start by figuring out how much energy your off-grid application is consuming. Although this can be a challenge, you can still get the expected loads of each electrical device you plan to power on energy from the sun as well as the amount of time you’ll be consuming each day.
This calculation will give you an estimate of your expected energy consumption. If you size this by about 25%, it can help you offset the days that your solar system won’t produce at its 100% capacity, such as winter months or cloudy days.
Additionally, you should also consider the efficiency rating of your panels, a higher rating usually leads to higher rates of energy production. Although monocrystalline panels are costlier, they are still more efficient than polycrystalline as well as thin-film panels. You can check for the efficiency rating in a panel’s specification section.
2. Batteries and Storage Capacity
Choosing whether you need batteries for your solar system or not is very important. If you only need access to solar power during daylight hours then solar modules are just enough for some off-grid systems to function properly. However, if you need electricity at all times, even at night or during cloudy days when solar production is non-existent or low, you’ll need to opt for batteries.
If you have decided you want to go for batteries, you’ll need to again calculate the amount of energy you’ll require to store to meet your energy requirements. It is quite hard to determine how much storage you’ll need to cover your consumption in kilowatts or watts. However, you can assume that nearly all 100 amp-our batteries provide approximately 1.2 kWh or 1,200 watt-hours of stored energy. This is enough to power a 100-watt appliance for about 12 hours.
From there you can decide which of your devices you want to run on stored energy as well as the size of your batteries accordingly. In the case of solar panels, it’s always better to size up for the best results.
Additionally, one also needs to consider the kind of battery one wants. There are four primary types of batteries-
- Lead Acid Battery: It is the most common and reliable battery.
- Nickel Cadmium Battery: It is famous for its long battery life.
- Lithium Battery: It is best used for storing large amounts of energy.
- Flow Battery: Flow batteries are a popular option for off-grid solar applications as they allow for a total discharge.
3. Additional Equipment Included
For an off-grid solar system, you also require other additional equipment apart from solar panels. Most such systems include battery chargers or charge controllers. These controllers help prevent battery overcharging and also allow you to connect devices directly to your panels for power. Some systems also come with inverters and batteries, while others include all this equipment plus wiring and mounting brackets for a complete off-grid setup.
The overall efficiency of your system is determined by the charger you get with your system. PWM and MPPT solar charge controllers are the two most common options. The best option is going for MPPT controllers as they provide the maximum possible efficiency. They help you take full advantage of the available sunlight.
Most DIY grid systems also come with connectors and wires to connect all the components and mounting equipment to install your solar panels safely. Depending on where you’re installing the components, you might even need to go for longer cables.
Additionally, off-grid solar systems come with a variety of mounting equipment, such as Z brackets for ground mounts, pole-mounted, and roof-mounted solar. Before deciding on the mounting option consider where you’ll install the solar system.
You need to decide on the kind of systems you are looking for and if you should go for the add-ons mentioned above. Things like batteries, inverts, and even additional panels can be added to your off-grid system at a later date if you want to upgrade or expand it.
4. Warranty Coverage
Finally, warranty coverage should also be considered while buying an off-grid solar system. You sometimes even pay $5,000 for an off-grid solar system and for such a huge investment warranty coverage must be provided. It gives you peace of mind that your solar system will work for years after its installation.
Most solar system warranties cover the performance of the panels, the equipment from manufacturer defects, or a combo of both. The more long and more comprehensive the warranties are, the better it is for you. However, you’ll need to decide if paying more for a solar system that comes with better warranty protection is worth it for you.
Pros and Cons of Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems
Going for off-grid systems is usually beneficial but it certainly isn’t the best for everyone. Let’s delve in and look at the pros and cons of off-grid solar panel systems.
Pros of Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems
1. Provides Power in Remote Locations
Off-grid solar systems are quite popular in remote locations like rural areas. In such places connecting to the grid is either very expensive or not possible. These systems help you to harness the power of the sun and use it to provide electricity for your residences as well as to charge backup batteries.
An appropriately sized off-grid system can easily power homes that normally don’t have access to electricity. Larger off-grid systems can even provide sufficient power and backup energy to run an entire off-grid house or cabin indefinitely.
Also See: Off Grid Inverter Vs Hybrid Inverter
2. Helps Avoid Power Outages
Even if you don’t live in a rural area, an off-grid system will still be great for you. If you are accessing electricity via the grid, you are always at risk of blackouts. During emergency situations and severe weather, blackouts are very common, and having power during these situations is of utmost importance.
Grid-reliant systems may go down during an outage but off-grid systems will still function effortlessly. This system just needs the sun the shine and it will continue producing and storing solar energy even when all the surrounding homes have lost their power.
3. Reduces Energy Costs
By converting to solar, you’ll be able to avoid paying utility bills. With an average annual consumption of about 893 kWh and an approximate retail cost of about 13.15 cents per kWh, your off-grid system will save you more than $1,400 each year.
4. Beneficial to the Environment
By option solar energy, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. Any average system can reduce the CO2 emission of your home by nearly 6.16 tons every year. If people effectively install and use off-grid systems, it will help limit pollution and global warming significantly.
Cons of Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems
1. Going Off-Grid Is Expensive
Although an off-grid system frees you up from an electric bill, the upfront costs of shifting from utility to an off-grid solar system are expensive. To get a high-quality off-grid system that can power all your appliances, you’ll need to have a sum save up.
Also Read: What are Hybrid Solar System Components?
Choosing the best off grid solar system and figuring out your power usage is a trial-and-error process. It will probably take you months to decide on an off-grid system. It can be quite time-consuming and requires a lot of patience.
3. Potentially Illegal Depending on Your Area
In some countries and states using off-grid power is illegal. So, if you are fixed on going off the grid, you might even have to change countries. Most people go for off-grid solar systems when they live in areas these restrictions do not apply.
Are Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems Worth It?
After going through the list of best off grid solar system for tiny house, best off grid solar system for cabin, and in general best off grid solar system, let’s also see if the off-solar panel system is worth it or not.
Off-grid solar systems are great for some folks, but their worth depends on an individual’s situation and needs.
If you live in a remote location that is not economically or situationally connect to the grid, then an off-grid system is the best solution. If you have sized this system properly and installed batteries, this system will provide you with clean energy all the time. For small applications, an off-grid system is an ideal option.
If your home is located close to a grid and you are required to maintain power all the time, an on-grid solar array is a better option for you. This allows you to use renewable energy but also has the backup of your utility company in case your solar production drops. Ultimately, it’s your choice whether you want to shift to the off-grid solar system or not.
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