Living off the Grid in Texas
Off the grid living is growing in popularity with a rise in innovative green living design and practices. Living off the grid requires a lot of planning and working within the boundaries of state and local laws.
For some areas in Texas, homes have always been off the grid. Some cabins, lodges, farmhouses, and homes are too far away from a power grid to make connecting feasible.
Off Grid Solar
Solar power is perfect for off grid living. Unlike gas, propane, or diesel generators a solar panel system can produce energy all throughout the day without needing any extra resources. Off-grid solar panel systems rely on the integration of a battery power reservoir. During the day the solar panels will charge the batteries so that energy will be available all through the night.
Battery technology has come a long way, and systems are now available that can store massive amounts of electricity in a small area. Lithium Ion and lead acid batteries are both common choices for off-grid systems.
Off the grid living is not legal everywhere. In some areas in Texas it is the only option, but in urban cities there are zoning laws that have certain requirements. In the San Antonio area, there are no restrictions against off grid living, but there are laws that enforce proper waste and water line hookups.
Generally, if you are in an urban area, it is a better choice to hook up to the grid. There are more solar rebates and incentives available to homes that are on a grid with solar panels. But if it would cost a large sum of money to supply your home with power from the grid, a solar system is the way to go.
Difference between AC and DC
Solar panels produce direct current or DC power and power grids run on AC power. AC power is more efficient when traveling long distances, and DC power is more efficiently stored. When a solar panel is hooked up to the grid, it requires a power inverter to integrate into your home.
A solar power inverter modifies the wavelength of the electricity from a DC to an AC currency. Inverters are also available to change AC to DC. You may have seen an inverter, a common AC to DC inverter is found in a battery charger.
Living off the grid means you can choose what form of electricity you would like to use. Modern appliances like air conditioning units, refrigerators, and electric ranges require AC, but light bulbs, simple electronics, and some computers run on DC.
Is Off Grid Living Legal?
In San Antonio, off the grid living is legal, but requires certain permits to be filed. The electrical code states that any stand-alone system that is not connected to the grid that is over or at 50-volts over 1,200 watts must require electrical permits.
Other cities and counties across Texas do not have special restrictions against power usage, but rather enforce other laws that come with off grid living. Practices like rainwater collection that are also legal in San Antonio might be illegal in many states which make it hard for those trying to live legally off the grid.
The one legal difficulty with living off the grid is the International Property Maintenance Code. The code has a series of laws that require a properly maintained electrical circuit used for for lighting. The law was written to dissuade candle lighting practices that were a fire hazard.
We can Help you make the choice
At Cam Solar, we can help you through all of the laws, regulations, and paperwork needed if you decide to live off the grid. We can consult you through the process and give you the best options for your needs. Contact us today for your free on-site solar panel quote!