four steps to a solar off grid system.

Matthew's story - episode Three: Energy Audit? 


POwerSmart's off grid Process.

Once the decision had been made to go with a  'Off the Grid, Solar Power System' using PowerSmart, Matthew worked with Pranay Karr to begin the design process of the Solar Power System that would be suitable for running Matthews household.

With two teenage boys, Matthew and his wife’s requirements were no different to any other family.  The family had a media room, used tablets and smartphones in addition Matthew worked from home and they had all the normal appliances like a washing machine, dishwasher, microwave and the all important coffee machine.

PowerSmart has four stages in their off grid process:

  1. Energy Audit
  2. Design and Engineering
  3. Installation
  4. Training and Commissioning. 

Powersmart began the process of designing Matthews off the Grid system by conducting the Energy Audit.  The Energy Audit is the discovery phase of the project and it is where Pranay will work through the client's daily power usage over the whole year to determine their energy requirements.


“The beauty of Off Grid is that you can choose where you want to live.  You are independant of the utility grid”. Says Pranay.


'Living Off the Grid' should be just like living connected to the national electricity grid.  There is very little compromise that is needed and in designing an off the grid solar power system like Matthews, it is important that the system is designed to enable life to go on as normal.  The energy audit enables Powersmart to find out as much as possible about the clients usage needs, the high and low usage periods of the day, and also what heating and cooking appliances are best used for the situation in which the house is to be built.

In Matthew's case, heating and cooking were designed to use alternative energy sources, cooking using gas and heating using a natural wood burner and wetback systems.  Further, Mathew was able to include numerous heating and insulation techniques into the design of the house including an insulated concrete floor to capture the heat from the sun all year round, and double glazed windows.  All of these efficiencies helped to reduce the Solar Power Systems size. 


“It's not just about getting the biggest system, but also about getting the most economic and sustainable system for you.” says Pranay.


For Matthew and his family there was very little that needed to change from their life before they decided to live off the grid apart from one everyday appliance that they decided to use differently to normal, here is what Matthew has to say


“The only appliance that we needed to throw away was the electric kettle which uses an enormous amount of power to heat a small amount of water in a short amount of time.  So the only compromise we had to make was to get a kettle that we could boil water with on the gas stove or fire range”.


For Pranay, being able to be involved in the house design process ensures that his clients off the grid solar power system is sized and designed correctly, meaning that the house functions as any other 'normal' house when it comes to electricity.  It also ensured that the location of the solar panels and battery storage could be efficiently designed and placed in the right place for the design of both the house and the off the grid solar power system.


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When talking about living in an off grid home compared to living connected to the grid. 

"The added value of course, is that you don't get any power bills every month!"

Matthew Hardy - Off Grid Home Owner.