Going Off-Grid in the Bahamas
Besides its beautiful coastline and sandy beaches, one of the most abundant resources in the Bahamas is the sun. The archipelagic nation receives huge amounts of solar energy every year that is uninterrupted by cloud cover. It makes it the perfect place to go off-grid.
Until recently, all grid power in the Bahamas came from diesel fuel. However, relying on fossil fuel as a source of energy is quite costly. The Bahamas spends around $400 million per year on fossil fuels to power its grid. Due to the high cost of transporting, and maintaining the grid, the Bahamas has some of the highest energy prices in the world.
Going off-grid can help you cut the cord with the utility company. It will ensure that you do not need to worry about grid outages. It gives you energy independence and insulates you from fluctuating fossil fuel prices.
How to Go Off-Grid
There are a few key points you need to keep in mind if you wish to go off-grid. The most important point is that you need to understand the more power you consume, the more the solar system will cost. If you are not ready to go fully off-grid, you can opt for a battery backup system, which kicks in when the grid goes down, and the sun is not shining. Some of the things to consider are:
Designing an off-grid system will require that you understand how much power you consume daily on average. The off-grid system will be designed to provide enough power for the entire household. An expert will usually help you to decide this. It is a great alternative to diesel generators in areas where there is no BPL power.
Pick the Right Batteries
An off-grid system needs batteries to store power. Batteries will add a huge chunk to the cost of the solar system. Luckily, there are many batteries at different price points. In general, you get what you pay for. Cheap batteries will need to be replaced more often. However, if you want to enjoy the most service from your batteries, you will need to shell out a bit more.
Besides costing a lot, batteries need regular maintenance for them to continue operating at the optimal level. While the maintenance is easy, it is not something that many people are used to doing. A good solar installation company will include a care sheet for the batteries. Following the simple steps in the care sheet will ensure that you get the most out of your batteries. Without proper maintenance, the life of the batteries will be severely affected.
The most common batteries are flooded lead-acid batteries. These batteries are cheap, and they can discharge up to 80% without suffering damage to their lifespan. They can last five to 12 years depending on how they are used, and how well they are maintained. To ensure the long life of these batteries, it is essential to properly size the battery bank. It will eliminate the need for constant deep cycling.
AGM or absorbed glass matt battery is another option for a battery bank in the Bahamas. These batteries use a lead paste in-between fiberglass plates. They require little maintenance but still need the contacts to be kept tight and clean. Their maximum discharge is 50% before they start to suffer damage.
Li-ion batteries are the other type of batteries used in an off-grid system. A good example of these batteries is the Tesla Powerwall2. However, these are difficult to obtain. They need a battery management system installed with the battery bank. Their biggest advantage is that they can be discharged up to 95% without any lifespan issues. They also cost more and require the battery management systems installed along them to ensure they continue to operate at optimal levels.
Another type of battery, which is not widely available to the masses, is a flow battery. These batteries show great promise. However, they cost around 20% more than li-ion batteries. Their biggest advantage is that they can be discharged to 100% and last up to 10 years.
If you plan to go off-grid with solar and avoid using fossil fuel to power your home in the Bahamas, it is possible. Talking to an expert will ensure that you get a properly sized system, which will power the entire home for decades to come while saving you on fuel costs for the rest of the system's life.