Solar Cost Analysis

September 20, 2012 1 Comment

The demand for accessible cottage land is high, so new cottages are increasingly being built in remote locations. For owners, living off the beaten path poses an important economic and lifestyle consideration: either pay big-bucks to run a line in and connect to the electrical grid or remain off-grid. When choosing to stay off-grid there are yet again several options for lights and power.  Let's compare two off-grid electricity generation methods: a diesel powered electric generator versus an off-grid solar system. Let's assume the following energy requirements: lights, TV, radio, refrigeration, small appliances, or approximately 4000 watt hours per week.


Capital cost

Life cycle costs

3200 watt diesel generator

(4000 watt max; 3200 watt continuous)

Roughly, $900

40 gallons/week @ $1.15/litre

= $175 per 7 day usage.


Solar system (for year round use including panels, batteries, charge controller, DC LED lights, DC refrigerator)

Roughly, $6000

Depending on usage, batteries may need to be replaced in 5-7 years. LED lights have a life span of roughly 50,000 hours, and solar panels have warranties of up to 25 years. 


In this rough estimation, it would take less than 35 weeks in diesel consumption to pay for the solar system, and likely even less considering the trend of gas prices.

Keep in mind  the above 4000 watt hours per week solar system is based on year-round electrical use. If the cottage is summer-only then the capital cost is pretty much halved -- lots more sun hours means less batteries! Many off-grid cottagers can get away with solar systems under $3000, and enjoy no noise, no smell, and the knowledge that solar is expandable over time. They say off-grid living is freedom.



1 Response


February 16, 2013

Well said, but everyone needs to realise that adding Solar to their home is an purchase that could improve the long term value of their home if / when they come to a decision to sell. With the environment the way it is going we simply cannot ignore any product or service that delivers free electricity at no cost to both the consumer and more importantly the environment!

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