Using renewable energy provides an opportunity to live off the grid. This can be appealing to many people who want to power their RVs, barns, or sheds. However, designing a system doesn’t have to be complicated. The most critical aspects are understanding your power needs, proper placement, and the ability to hook up all the necessary components safely and correctly.

Consider Your Needs

Everyone’s power needs are different. So, your first step is understanding what your needs are. Next, you’ll have to consider how much you need in general, as well as how your usage changes throughout the year and throughout the day. There are several variables when it comes to using a renewable energy system, and it is important to understand your specific rate of use to guarantee the most efficient system.

One method of measuring your power needs is by using a kilowatt power measuring device for the plug-in appliances you’d typically use throughout the day. Ideally, leaving one attached for 24 hours will give you a full-day measurement of your kilowatt use. You can also measure it after an hour or upon initial plug-in. With the latter two options, you won’t get a clear understanding of the natural fluctuations of power use throughout the day.

Determine Location

With many professionally installed on-grid systems, the panels are placed on the roof of the home. This isn’t always the most efficient place for off-grid systems. You’ll want to consider factors such as shading and maximum spots of direct sunlight. Proper angles are essential for efficiency, which is why the roof isn’t always the best option. You also want to have some level of accessibility to your panels for maintenance that can help prolong the life of the system. Placement also plays a significant role in overall efficiency.

Get the Right Parts

It is important to order the right components to ensure that your system will work safely and effectively. You’ll want to determine the number and size of cells needed, the charge controller type and size, battery type and capacity, and overall voltage.

Consider Battery Placement

Your solar panel battery will require either an available existing room or a compartment. In addition, the battery needs to be protected from drastic temperatures, especially freezing temperatures. Your battery should also be protected against animals or young children who could impact the contacts or cause damage that could result in a battery leak.

Ready to Install

Once you’ve gathered all necessary materials, planned out locations, and secured a safe spot for your battery, installation can begin. Depending on your level of skill, you can build custom panel supports that allow movement of the panels. Be sure that you are familiar with electrical work to ensure proper connection.


Once your panels are installed, you are ready to complete the process by wiring the system. Off-grid wiring is much less complex than on-grid. However, it is essential to note that if you plan to connect your panel to a home already on the grid, you will be legally required to hire a professional installer to do the wiring.

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