Use solar energy to go off the grid

Can You Go Off the Grid with Solar Power?

December 20, 2023

As the price of utilities continues to rise, more and more people fantasize about living off the grid. It’s appealing to imagine a completely self-sufficient life. You’re powering your own home with solar energy and not needing to be dependent on anyone else. But can you go off the grid with solar power?

Getting Energy Off the Grid

While going solar alone isn’t the only step to getting off the grid, it is one of the biggest steps. This is especially true if you use SunPower solar panels, which are the most efficient panels on the market. They’re 30% more efficient and last 30% longer than conventional solar panels, so they can power your whole house for years. You’ll have lights, working appliances, and even heat if everything is electrical and your house is powered by solar energy.

The Pros of Going Off the Grid with Solar Energy

For starters, using solar to go off the grid will substantially reduce your utility bills. In fact, with highly-efficient solar panels like the M-series and U-series created by SunPower, your utility bills could go down to $0 a month! This means that going off the grid can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Another benefit of going off the grid is that you aren’t affected if it goes down. The U.S. energy grid has been undergoing a lot of strain due to climate change and people’s dependance on it. This has caused some rather notable power outages over the past few years. And even when the grid isn’t getting overwhelmed, inclement weather like New England nor’easters and blizzards can bring down power lines. Going off the grid protects you from these issues, but it puts a little less strain on the power grid. This benefits everyone.

Many Amish communities use solar

The Drawbacks of Going Off-Grid

That being said, going completely off the grid might not be the best move for you, especially in Massachusetts. For starters, you need to make sure you can afford it. Solar panels are an investment. You will make your money back within a few years, but first you have to pay for the panels upfront. Going off the grid can be more expensive than you might think, so your budget needs to be carefully considered beforehand.

Speaking of expenses, while going off the grid will lower your energy bills down to practically $0, you won’t be eligible for any of Massachusetts’ great solar incentives. Most notably, you won’t qualify for the SMART Program. These incentives require you to be connected to the grid and interconnected by one of three investor-owned utility companies in Massachusetts – Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil. Without these, you can’t get the fixed-rate monthly payments they offer for “selling” your excess power back to the grid.

Also, while you might not have to pay energy utilities anymore, you’re basically your own power company. This means you’re on your own if something goes wrong. It’s essential to have a solar storage system of some kind, like a solar battery. Otherwise, you won’t have any power when the sun goes down or the weather is too extreme. If you don’t have some kind of energy storage system for those times, you might have to stay at least partially connected to the grid. Without a backup of some kind, you won’t have electricity for your appliances and heaters, or even be able to charge your phone. This can be a major problem in a state like Massachusetts. Temperatures can get cold and the weather is temperamental, from blizzards to nor’easters.

The best advice is to get solar, but don’t go wholly off the grid unless you have a solid plan in place. Going off-grid can be a great experience for some, but it takes extensive planning and commitment. Go solar but don’t completely disconnect yourself from the grid just yet.