With an off grid solar system, you'll have true energy independence, but you won't have the grid to fall back on. 100% of your electrical needs are going to have to be met by your solar panels and batteries, so you need to size your system properly.
But before you size anything, you'll want to reduce your electrical needs as much as possible. Swap out all your incandescent light bulbs for LED bulbs. Consider replacing older appliances with newer, high efficiency appliances. Use non-electric appliances if you can. Isn't this extra work and expense? Yes, but if you can shave a few hundred Watt-hours off your daily use, you'll save big on solar panels and batteries because fewer will be needed to support your electrical needs.
Shop for off grid solar system components separately.
No! Unlike grid-tie solar systems, off-grid systems are (as the name suggests) completely independent of the electrical grid and are therefore not affected by grid outages.
Yes. A deep cycle battery bank is the heart of an off-grid PV system. Everything comes and goes from the batteries and your power needs will be completely reliant on what your batteries have stored up whenever your solar panels (or wind/hydro turbines) aren't producing.
Batteries are a bit like muscles - they need some exercise to stay healthy, but not so much that they get worn out at an early age.
We've found it's best to aim for 3-5 days' worth of storage capacity if using lead acid batteries. Fewer than three days and your batteries will be cycling too deeply too frequently. More than five days and your battery bank starts getting more expensive than a backup generator or secondary charging source.
If you live in a reliably sunny place and use LFP (or LiFePO4) batteries instead of lead acid, you can probably safely get away with 2-3 days' worth of storage since LFP batteries handle true deep cycling much better than lead acid.
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Deciding to get off the grid can be intimidating, but our Solar Living Sourcebook is the perfect primer for it - chock-full of exactly the kind of advice and considerations you should have to make an informed decision about it.