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Misinformation about “going off-grid” can disuade consumers from taking advantage of modern solar and battery technologies. Yet where Hollywood may stereotype off-grid users as rustic cabin dwellers, the reality is that Canadians who have made the switch are living full, reliable, and modern lives.

In short: taking energy generation and storage into your own hands is easier – and more affordable – than one might think. Yet even as energy users become more knowledgeable about off-grid opportunities, there are lingering myths that deserve busting...

Myth: Going off-grid is too expensive
Reality: Once upon a time this may have been true for mainstream consumers. Today, however, the price of solar panels alone is less than half they were just 10 years ago – and that price continues to shrink. The availability of off-grid technology leasing programs has also made disconnecting from the grid more cost-effective for consumers. Through them, consumers can pay the same amount for leasing renewable energy systems as they would for typical electricity bills.

Myth: Off-grid systems don't produce enough power
Reality: If a system is sized and designed to fit a consumer's specific energy needs, there will always be power to spare. This may not have been the case years ago when solar panels and batteries were still coming into their own, but today's components are now more than capable of handling the job.

“Solar panels, sizing inverters, and battery banks have undergone a fair amount of changes over the years and there are a lot of choices for each on the market. As long as the project is designed right, by people who know what they're doing, any energy requirements can be met,” says Randy Anderson, National Technical Sales and Training Manager with Canadian Energy.

Myth: Going off-grid is too big of a lifestyle change
Reality: Historically, solar powered systems were primarily used by home and cottage owners in remote areas who wanted an alternative to paying big money to have hydro companies install power lines over long distances. Now, says Anderson, the profile of off-grid energy users is changing: “When we say off-grid, people tend to think 'remote', but that's not necessarily the case anymore. People are disconnecting from the grid in highly-populated areas because it's actually easier and less costly to do so.”

What's more, you don't have to turn your life upside down to accommodate solar technology. It's true that relying on self-generated energy does mean being a bit more conscious about your power usage throughout the day, but the change is far from drastic.

Myth: There is a lot of maintenance involved
Reality: The only time maintenance is required for an off-grid system is in the event of flooded batteries. Even then, explains Anderson, there are gel-type, maintenance-free batteries which essentially require zero upkeep: “They're almost completely plug-and-play with no maintenance needed other than maybe having to wash your solar panels off once in a while if they get dirty.”

Myth: The grid is more reliable
Reality: The opposite is true. Battery-based systems are more reliable than the grid because off-grid systems won't go down in a storm and aren't susceptible to brownouts. Adds Anderson: “Instead of being reliant on the electrical company and their lines, you're solely dependent on the power you're producing. That's especially valuable if you're up in cottage country where you may be dealing with multiple power outages a year.”

As with any game-changing technology, there are bound to misconceptions about today's off-grid options. Yet as more and more businesses and residential energy users take energy storage and generation into their own hands, the advantages are starting to be clear.

“For the most part, people are becoming very aware of 'off-grid' technologies and their advantages, but there are always some doubts we're happy to clear up,” says Anderson.

Randy Anderson is the National Technical Sales and Training Manager with Canadian Energy. For more, visit www.cdnrg.com.

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