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Attitudes towards off-grid technologies are shifting. Thanks to ongoing advancements in solar and battery technology, Canadian businesses and residential consumers alike are taking a greater shine to the idea of unplugging from the electrical network and taking energy generation and storage into their own hands.

Nevertheless, as energy users become more knowledgeable about off-grid opportunities, there are lingering misconceptions. Here, then, are the top off-grid myths that deserve busting...

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 expensive
Reality: In years past, 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. 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 are for remote areas
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.”

Myth: Going off-grid is too big of a lifestyle change
Reality: You don't have to turn your life upside down to accommodate solar technology. Yes, 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.”

ResizedImage299187 System7Myth: Sticking to the grid is more reliable 
Reality: In fact, 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.”

Off-grid technologies and services have come a long way. So too, however, have the public's understanding of how they work and the benefits they can generate.

“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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