We’ve been living off-grid with solar panels and a battery bank on the Hilo side of the Big Island of Hawaii for over 8 years, actually over 10, but we don’t count the “camping stage”.
We started with the smallest possible system: 2 solar panels, small lead acid battery bank, china made charge controller, and a cobra inverter from Amazon. It was a 12 volt system. I will end with saying, DO NOT DO THIS. Period.
Fast forward, and we are loving our upgraded 48 volt system using a simplifi lithium battery bank and outback prewired inverter. Hello smoothies, and washing clothes at home. Even though, we live “off grid”, we hardly even notice because we have all the power we need.
To the point, there were many hard lessons learned along the way. The biggest mistake we made, was going cheap and not doing our research. In puna(county we live in), many others live humbly with small 12v systems. You go to an off grid store, and they sell you on cheap products, that its all good, you’ll have all the power you need.
What no one told us: unless you have a powerful inverter, you will break any cheap one. There were many nights spent listening to beeping while trying to finish the dishes after dinner. Or that you will completely fry your battery bank if it drops below a certain percentage. However, with the new lithium battery technologies available, the battery can be fully depleted without harming the battery.
It’s better to invest in proper equipment, than to save a buck
We would have saved ourselves thousands of dollars and many headaches by simply saving until we could afford the right system. So while going off grid may be a big upfront cost, in the end we always win. While others go often without power due to trees falling, hurricanes, and random outages due to other unforeseen circumstances, we have power.
Live on the big island, and considering going off grid? Give us a call and we’d be happy to consult with you. 808-747-9885