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Off-Grid Systems

Off-Grid systems are much more common in the Monaro area compared to major cities.  This is largely due to our remote location, which does not have complete coverage by the main electrical network.  Luckily, this remote location comes with a wealth of natural power sources, which can support your energy independence.

Is an off-grid system the right choice for your application?

One of the most common reasons for going off grid in the Snowy Mountains is a lack of access to a grid connection, or a prohibitive cost to have a grid connection installed. People often find themselves in either of these situations due to the expansive region we live in. Our gorgeous landscape and the properties we live on can be very remote, making utility connection problematic.

If you find yourself in a situation like this and are searching for a solution to your energy dilemma, an off-grid system can be very advantageous. These solutions often work out to be more cost effective over the life of the system, and in some cases, will even be cheaper to install right from the beginning.

Apart from the financial incentive, there is also the added benefit of generating your own electricity from renewable resources. A well designed system will provide you with your own clean power for many years to come, reducing your carbon footprint in our beautiful alpine landscape.

Considerations

Off-grid equipment comes in a huge array of makes and models, making it both confusing and daunting to anyone who is not tech savvy. And even for those who are more technically inclined, there is an enormous amount of information to churn through, lots of which is either subjective or influenced by advertising partnerships.

Many of us are understandably tempted to use cheaper equipment and DIY kits in order to save money. Often it seems like the most logical choice - Why would you pay more, sometimes a lot more, for something that seemingly does the same job? Like many things in life though, there are two age old sayings that ring very true in off grid systems, and renewable energy systems in general:
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”

“You get what you pay for”
Here at Monaro Energy, we do everything possible to make the process simple and smooth for our customers. We take the time to get a complete understanding of your needs, and ensure they are met with precision and unmatched customer service. We only deal with high quality equipment that we know will provide a long and effective service life.

Off grid systems can be very simple, or highly complex, depending on your individual needs and the natural resources you have available to generate power. The components of an off grid system can be grouped into three main categories:

  • Generation - Solar panels (most common), hydro turbines, and wind turbines
  • Power conversion equipment - Inverters and battery chargers
  • Energy storage - Battery banks

We all have access to the sun, so its no surprise that solar is the most common form of renewable energy generation. When light (energy) from the sun hits your solar panels, that energy is converted into electricity. The electricity then travels down the cables from your solar panels, to your inverter. The inverter essentially changes this electricity from an amount that is variable (more sun = more electricity, less sun = less electricity) into a consistent value that we can use for everyday applications, like powering our appliances and lighting.

The same theory applies to the likes of solar and wind power generation. The motion of flowing water or blowing wind will spin a turbine, which converts the energy of movement into electrical energy, which occurs through the rotation of an electrical generator. Similarly to solar, this energy is passed to an inverter, and as the wind or water flows more or less, the inverter regulates the energy so we are able to use it for everyday applications.

But what happens at night when the sun doesn’t shine, or on calm days when the wind doesn’t blow, or when the creek is running lower than normal? This is where battery storage plays its part.

The regulated voltage that is sent out from your inverter not only powers your equipment, it is also used to charge a battery bank. Smaller and simpler systems can have battery charging built into the inverter, meaning there is one box on the wall that does it all. Larger and more complex systems may have two or more boxes on the wall, where dedicated inverters and battery chargers each play a very specific role.

So with your batteries charged, when night comes, or when the wind is calm, or when the creek drops, the electricity flows the other way - That is, the batteries now discharge energy out to the inverter (rather than taking it in to get charged). The inverter does the same job, taking the energy from the batteries, and changing it into a form that we can use for our appliances and lighting.

But what if we go for a week without a sunny or windy day, or what if the creek level drops for weeks at a time? One word - Redundancy.

Source Redundancy

If you are lucky enough to have flowing water or exposure to regular winds, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. You should supplement your main source of power generation with another, even two, backup sources.

Your solar panels and batteries work wonders on sunny days, but if there is a week or more with very heavy cloud cover, you might call on a small diesel generator to help top up your batteries until the sun decides to return.

Similarly, you might be lucky enough to have a small hydro turbine as your main generating device, which is an excellent source of energy while the water is flowing. But when the creek dries up, you might rely on a small solar setup to make sure your batteries still get topped up. A small diesel generator would often be used as a third layer of protection, for a worst case scenario where natural resources are scarce for extended periods of time.
Let's Get Started

Contact Information

Monaro Energy is the premium provider for renewable energy and automation services in the NSW Snowy Monaro area.

Catering to both private and business customers, we have the experience and expertise to help with any complex electrical project, whether it be large or small.

Renewable energy generation, smart home builds, and automated control systems are just some of the sustainable solutions we tailor for our local region.

Get in contact with us for a friendly discussion regarding your requirements.
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