Off Grid Appliances
Off Grid Electrical Power

Off the grid living is a challenge, choosing the right off grid appliances can help to maintain an un-compromised standard of living. Prior to choosing energy efficient appliances, a family living off grid must carefully plan their domestic energy use strategy.

Step A: The Off Grid Building

The building must be energy efficient. More options are open for buildings that are still in their design phase. Retrofitting existing buildings to improve their energy efficiency is possible, and usually a small investment can result in very short payback time. Solar power homes are built to allow as much daylight in, to allow as much sun radiation absorption during the cold season and as little sun radiation absorption during the hot summer days. It is important to find leaks through windows, doors, attics cellars and walls and fix them. This will result in a better insulated house demanding less heating in the winter and less cooling in the summer.

Step B: Energy Conservation Measures

Generating off grid electricity is relatively expensive, therefore use electrical power wisely. Don’t use incandescent bulbs, a compact fluorescent bulb or LED lights will consume 25% of the electrical power an incandescent bulb with the same luminance would consume. Use smart power strips to shut off computers, radio sets, TV sets and similar devices that have a standby mode. The standby mode consumes what is known as the phantom load, although tiny it takes energy 24x7 and you want to eliminate it.

Step C: Don’t Use Electricity or Fossil Fuels to Heat Up

Solar hot water heaters, solar space heaters and solar pool heaters are much more cost effective than electrical heaters, propane heaters and furnaces or any other fossil fuel burning furnace. With solar heaters, there is no need to transport fuel from a remote supply point to the off grid home. Existing fossil burning heaters and furnaces can be kept and integrated with the solar heaters to serve as a supplement and as a backup for cloudy days

Step D: Choosing the Off Grid Appliances

DC operated off grid appliances can be used for RV, boats or small cabins and bungalows. For a family off-grid household use AC operated appliances. My reasons are:

  1. You will find a wider choice of Energy Efficient air conditioners, refrigerators, dish washers, clothes washers and clothes dryers that are operated on AC power
  2. You can get better prices on AC operated Off Grid appliances
  3. You want to avoid running long DC power lines and having two sets of wires, one for DC and one for AC

In the US buy only Energy Star labeled appliances, in other countries shop for the equivalent energy efficient labeled appliances

A background on Electrical Generators & Electrical Consumers and electricity storage

An off grid home must generate its electrical power. With the advent of clean energy generators, plan on generating electrical power by photovoltaic power generators and by wind turbines. Use a small silent diesel generator to back up the clean energy generators.

One lesson that can be taken from the hit of Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast states is that it is advisable for any household to keep a backup generator that will supply electric power during prolonged electricity shutdowns

Storage deep cycle batteries are always needed to store enough electricity for the dark hours after sun set and for windless periods.

Spread the use of high electrical power demanding appliances over the week days. Avoid the use of more than one appliance at a time (not including the refrigerator that is always ON). You, like the utility, want to avoid peak electrical consumption. Reducing the peaks will help you to scale down the size of the DC to AC pure sine inverter, and ease the requirements on the deep cycle batteries

choosing the right off grid appliances allows to install a lower size lower cost off-grid solar power system

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