What is the “GRID”
The grid is the system of interconnected wires, power plants, street light poles, and meters that make up the electrical systems that we use every day. We pay to get electricity from the grid on our electric bills.
Why Would Anyone Want to Go off the Grid?
Money is the first thing that comes to mind. Who isn’t tired of paying their electric bill? Who has ever wondered if they are being overcharged on their electric bill? Does anyone actually TRUST the utility companies. Most people don’t. And they have good reason to. Utility companies overcharge people all the time. They overcharge consumers so much that there are businesses built around finding utility bill errors and saving customers money.
The utility infrastructure is aging. It’s 50+ years old in many places. We as consumers, the rate payers, are going to be the ones who have to pay for its upkeep. Utility companies are notorious for making the consumers pay for their mistakes. So the price of our electric bills is always going to be rising.
Utility companies are monopolies. They have no competition and no reason to lower prices. Electric utilities make profits every year. These are dysfunctional organizations that leach off of the populations need for electricity. Most utility companies use outdated technology. They are 20-30 years behind on maintaining the grids and systems they run.
They are not truly “regulated”. Utility companies are monopolies that are supposedly “regulated'” by public utility commissions. These public utility commissions are weak government bodies that are bought and sold by the utility companies themselves. Many times people who work at utility commissions end up working at the utility company because the pay is higher. Public Utility Commissions are a joke.
How to CUT THE CORD, STOP PAYING YOUR ELECTRIC BILL, AND GO OFF THE GRID
The answer to the electric industry’s dysfunction is to CUT THE CORD. This technology is new, but it is here. It is: SOLAR PANELS AND HOUSE BATTERIES. It may sound far-fetched to some people, but it is the future and is truly the answer to our problems with electric companies. Yes in the near future, we will all have battery powered houses. And if you adopt this idea you will be one of the first people to change the way the world works and give a big fat middle finger to greedy electric companies.
Many people in Australia already use and have house batteries. The electric grid in Australia is one of the most expensive in the world. Therefore many residences welcome the idea of house batteries. They’ve actually been around since at least 2015. Why more people do not have house batteries and solar panels in America is beyond me. I assume a lot of it has to do with money – the cost of the solar panels and the cost of the batteries. Also, money as in the people who own the utility companies and power plants don’t want to give up the billions of dollars they are making each year and do anything and everything to keep American home-owners from cutting the cord.
The first step to cutting the cord is installing solar panels on your house. Solar panels go on your roof and in most cases are tied to the grid (unfortunately). Once you have solar panels, you can use the energy you generate from the solar panels during the day. At night you will use the power from the grid. If you generate more energy than you use, that energy goes back into the grid and you get credits from your utility company for the extra energy you have produced.
You can have solar panels without having a battery for your house, and this is what most people are doing now-a-days. But, if you really want to change and go off the grid, you are going to have to do things differently than most people.
Once you have the solar panels, you need house batteries to store your excess solar usage. If you have batteries and are able to store your excess usage, you will be able to use little to no electricity from the grid. The solar panels will be connected to the house batteries. During the day when you have excess solar power produced, it will be stored in your battery. At night when no solar power is being produced, you will use the power from the battery.
Creating and Storing Enough Power
The problem with solar batteries is storing enough power supply…especially on cloudy/rainy says and at night. If you have a solar pv system connected to the grid without batteries, you will use power from the grid when you run out of solar power. If you aren’t connected to the grid this becomes a problem. You have to make sure you have enough battery to last you through solar dry spells – such as winter, rainy days, and at night.
That’s all great but how much will it cost me to go off the grid?
It’s not cheap to go off the grid. You need good credit if you are going to get a solar loan. You can also get a home equity loan to finance your solar panels and batteries. Of course using cash is the best since you won’t be paying any interest. Solar panels can cost up to $18,000 before tax credits, and house batteries can cost $8,000 each.
So let’s say you get a loan for $30,000 for 20 years with 4% interest. Your monthly payment will be $182 per month…for 20 years. That’s your electric bill. No more shopping for the best rates, no more worrying about high bills in the summer and winter months. That’s your bill. And the best part is, the money you are paying is invested in your battery and solar system and NOT going to the greedy electric companies.
Utility Companies Fight Back Against Solar Power
Unfortunately electric companies don’t like the idea of losing revenue to solar power. Therefore they have worked to squash the idea and punish consumers who do switch to solar. There are several documented cases of electric companies punishing solar customers with outlandish fees. Is it also well documented that solar customers who generate excess power to the grid are not paid fairly. The price they are paid for the electricity is less than what they are charged to use electricity when they need it.
Examples of Electric Companies Punishing Solar Customers
As mentioned before, there are several different cases of electric companies charging solar customers extra fees and essentially punishing them for generating their own power.
It is unfortunate that utility companies are behaving this way just to protect their bottom line. However this shouldn’t prevent you from choosing solar. If anything it should motivate consumers to get solar and get house batteries so they can cut the cord from abusive tactics used against them by utility companies.
3 Reasons to Get Solar Panels or Go Off The Grid
Electric companies are fighting back against solar, and it costs a lot of money to get solar panels and go off the grid, so why would anyone want to go solar?
1. Save the Earth
First of all, we only have 1 planet. Since the industrial revolution, humans have been conducting a dangerous experiment. We have been releasing carbon emissions into the air like the earth has never experienced before. These carbon emissions are changing the climate, they are causing forest fires, pollution, and the extinction of plants and animals in the ocean and on land.
Solar panels and batteries are renewable resources. They are powered by the SUN. The sun appears every day. We are never going to run out of sunlight…well not for many many years at least.
We should take care of the 1 planet we were given to live on. Our children will inherit the earth. The survival of the human race depends on the livability of planet earth. We are already far behind on the transition to 100% renewable resources. It is 2019 and most people do not drive electric cars and most people do not use renewable energy to power their home. It is time to start the transition to renewable energy before the damage we have caused becomes too extensive to reverse.
2. Save Money
Yes, solar is expensive. Yes, house batteries are expensive. However, we do not know what the cost of electricity is going to be in 5-10 years. We don’t even know what the cost of electricity will be next month. There are predictions based on natural gas storage and production, but a series of unfortunate events can cause a spike in electricity costs. The price you pay each month is determined by the utility companies and retail electric providers. Do you want your electricity costs to be at the whim of the market? Or do you want your electricity cost to be a monthly payment on solar panels and house batteries? Do you want your hard earned money to go to big oil, fracking, electric utility monopolies? OR do you want your hard earned money to go to new green technology development? If you choose solar, it will be going to the later.
So it may not seem like you are saving much money at first if your solar bill is close to the amount of your electric bill, but in the long run you will probably be saving money. Especially if the price of electricity continues to increase and the utility companies continue to be greedy. After all, electric utility companies are monopolies, and they are required by law to make a profit each year…a profit off of you.
3. Be a Trend Setter
Most people are still connected to the grid and paying the electric company each month. They don’t see a lot of their neighbors getting solar panels and solar batteries. They continue to do what seems normal and safe and the easiest route – stay connected to the grid. A familiar term comes to mind here – “Monkey see, monkey do”.
If you take the plunge, be brave, cut the cord from the grid, and get solar panels and batteries, you will be a trend setter. You neighbors will see the solar panels going up. They will start talking and the gears in their mind will start moving. Why don’t I have solar panels? I want to be like them! I want to keep up with the Joneses and get solar panels too!
Someone has to start the renewable energy revolution. You can be a part of it! What are you waiting for!
How to Start Going Off the Grid
Ok, so you decided you want to generate your own power and maybe even go off the grid. Now you need to get your ducks in order and start.
For Residential Electric Consumers
If you have a house, you have many options. You can research local solar installation companies and or national solar installation companies. These companies will give you estimates and do all the dirty work. I would suggest getting at least 3 estimates on your solar project. Solar companies also provide batteries, most of the time, so get estimates on home batteries too if you want one.
You also need to decide how you will finance your solar project. You can use a solar loan, pay cash, or use a home equity loan if you have enough equity in your home. Residential consumers can also lease solar panels, but leasing is not really cost effective. Home equity loans probably have the best interest rates, but you have to do your research.
For RV’s, Cabins, and Outdoor Enthusiasts
You can also buy solar panels and solar generators online without having any sort of middle man. Small solar generators and solar panels are available on many major retailers. These are easy to hook up and install and have everything you need to get started. The solar generators would not be suitable for an entire house though. They will work for RV’s and outings and small cabins. They do not power air conditioners, so that is the main difference. Check out our Ultimate Solar Generator Guide of 2019.
In this article we described the best way to go off the grid and that is – getting solar panels and home batteries. Many people don’t realize this is a viable option to the traditional grid tied electric service. Going off the grid is also a great way to contribute to the renewable energy revolution.