Living off the grid using solar power:

Matthew's story - episode one: Why Solar? 

 

Why an off grid solar power solution works?

This video is the first of five short video's that explore Matthew's and his families journey in building a modern solar off grid home. Topics covered include:

  1. Episode One: Why Solar?
  2. Episode Two: Which company? Why he chose PowerSmart?
  3. Episode Three: Designing an off grid solar power system.
  4. Episode Four: What PowerSmart designed?
  5. Episode Five: What it is like living off the grid?

When Matthew Hardy was clearing trees on his property in 2015 he realised he had uncovered a gem of a spot to build his dream home. Situated 20 mins outside of Tauranga in the hills of Whakamarama in the sunny Bay of Plenty, the site offered 180 degree views out to the coast, over Mount Maunganui and Matakana Island. With plans firmly in his mind to build a house somewhere on his property he realised that this site was where he and his family wanted to be.

When the plans for the house were drawn up Matthew quickly realised that connecting the house to the national power grid was going to be a challenge.  The site was over 800 meters from the power lines and with it came a cost of over $50,000 to connect to the national grid and get the necessary lines in place to carry the power to Matthew's new house. He then decided to explore alternative off grid power options.

This fell broadly into three categories:

  1. Hydro power generation
  2. Wind power generation
  3. Solar power generation

Nearby, just down from the house was a free flowing stream with a waterfall falling approximately 25 meters.  It would be suitable for hydro power generation. The 23 acres he owned around the site also had some exposed ridges which lent themselves to wind power generation. Both hydro and wind, Mathew felt after talking with others who had used those technologies had potential issues.

The main reasons against hydro and wind were:

  • Many moving parts increased maintenance issues
  • Small hydro systems are suspect to damage by flooding
  • Wind generation on his site would hae significant down time due to lack of wind at certain times of year. 

Because of these reasons Matthew eventually settled on an off grid solar power system. 

An off grid solar power system was the simplest and most reliable system of the three options Matthew explored.  An off grid solar system required little or no ongoing maintenance and with the improvement in battery storage technology he realised that living off the grid using an off grid solar power electricity system was was the way to go. 

Having made the decision to go for an off the grid solar electricity system, Matthew got a financial analysis done to ensure that going off grid solar was financially viable over the longterm when compared to the cost of connecting to the grid.  What this financial analysis proved was that going completely off grid with a standalone solar power system, including batteries was going to be substantially cheaper than connecting to the grid.

And of course as Matthew puts it

“The added Value of course, is that you don’t get any power bills every month”.

 

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Testimonials

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.