This could be especially useful for preppers because if there ever comes a time when you need to find an alternative source of energy such as during a situation when the power grid is down for an extended period of time, having a way to store energy to use when you need it could be very important.
In today’s article, I’ll be discussing how you can set up a system to store electricity for use when the power grid comes down. If you don’t believe that this will ever happen to you, just take a look back a few years at hurricane Katrina. When this major natural disaster struck, thousands of people found themselves without electricity for quite a long time. I highly urge you to not make the mistake of burying your head in the sand and thinking that this could never happen to you. The odds are that someday it will!
How an off the Grid Home Usually Works
- You’ll need to have some type of energy producing device(s) such as solar panels, wind turbines, or a generator. This electricity can be used directly to power your home but most homes that rely upon alternative energy also store electricity in a bank of deep cycle batteries.
- Whether you’re using solar panels, wind turbines, or a generator, it’s a good idea to have a bank of batteries that are constantly being charged any time these alternative energy sources are producing power.
- The battery bank is then wired to a device called a “power inverter”. This is simply a device that converts 12 volt DC electricity that is normally stored in battery banks into 120 volt AC electricity that your typical household appliances use. Keep in mind that I’m not an electrician but I’ve heard many people refer to the electricity in our home as 110 volt AC. According to Wikipedia, “Mains power is sometimes spoken of as 110; however, 120 is the nominal voltage.” Hopefully that will clear things up for you if you were confused about the matter.
- The power inverter is then wired to your home’s electrical system to provide it with electricity from the battery bank. It’s important to keep in mind that this wiring needs to be done properly and by a professional. To get an idea of why this is important, I suggest that you read my article called Why All Preppers Should Have a Generator Transfer Switch Installed at Their Home.
What Is a Battery Bank
When you hear the term “battery bank” it simply means that several batteries have been wired together to increase the amount of electricity that they are able to store. Some alternative energy homes use very large six volt deep cycle batteries that are wired together using a combination of serial and parallel wiring to bring the voltage up to the required level for the particular power inverter that is being used and to increase storage capacity. Others use several 12 volt deep cycle batteries wired in parallel to increase the amount of electricity that they are able to store.
This may sound confusing but here’s an easy way to remember it. Wiring deep cycle batteries in “series” will double the voltage but the amount of electricity that they are able to store stays the same. Wiring deep cycle batteries in “parallel” means that the voltage will stay the same but the amount of electricity that they are able to store increases.
Keep in mind that it’s very important not to mix and match when it comes to setting up a battery bank. I suggest that you consult with or hire a professional and that you never mix the types of batteries that you are wiring together.
An Important Note about Purchasing a Power Inverter
While spending over eight years living off the grid, we learned some very important lessons and unfortunately we learned them the hard way. The first is that you really do get what you pay for when it comes to purchasing power inverters. We went through several that we purchased from our local hardware stores and auto-parts stores before we realized that this isn’t the type of device that you want to buy from the bargain shelf. If you’re going to use a power inverter, make sure that you purchase a high-quality one and this will usually mean that it’s going to cost you significantly more than a $50 12 volt inverter that you might be able to pick up at your local big-box retailer.
Make Sure to Hire a Qualified Electrician
This article explains how batteries when used in conjunction with a 12V inverter can be used to power your home in simple terms but the process of actually doing this is far from simple. There are several very important things to know about setting a system like this up properly which is why I highly suggest that you hire an electrician who is actually familiar with wiring alternative energy systems.