We may be compensated if you purchase through links on our website. Our Reviews Team is committed to delivering honest, objective, and independent reviews on home products and services.More

Guide to Off-Grid Solar System Costs (2024 Breakdown)

Off-grid solar systems cost an average of $45,000–$65,000. Read our guide to determine whether this expense is worthwhile for your home.

Advertiser Disclosure

By using, you are leaving This Old House and will be connected with partners of Home Service Quotes. Who, by submitting your information, may contact you with information related to your inquiry. The listings that appear are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

Request quotes from local solar experts

Enter details in under 3 minutes

solar panels on the roof of a rural house

Author Image Written by Tamara Jude Updated 06/27/2024

An off-grid solar power system allows you to generate your own electricity without being tied to the electric grid. This differs from traditional solar power systems, which are still tied to the grid and may occasionally pull energy from a utility.

Off-grid systems cost an average of $45,000–$65,000—almost double the cost of a typical grid-tied solar system.* Despite the higher expense, off-grid systems provide more freedom and customization than standard systems from top solar companies. Our guide details the various factors that impact off-grid system costs, including system components and types. We’ll also go over how to assemble your own system. 

*Article cost data sourced from Fixr.

Use our expert research to learn more about your solar project

Enter your ZIP code or select from one of the top rated providers below

Match with local experts who can meet your needs

Get Estimates from Solar Experts in Your Area
Totally free, no phone call required

What Are the Benefits of Going Off-Grid?

Going off-grid provides many benefits, which we’ve detailed below.

Energy Independence

Living on a grid-tied system means you partially rely on a utility company for power. If the grid shuts down, you might be powerless for hours. Going completely off-grid means you’re only reliant on your own generated power. You’ll have peace of mind and security knowing your home can continue running smoothly during emergencies. 

Environmental Sustainability

One of the many benefits of going solar is reducing your carbon footprint. Using renewable resources eliminates your dependency on polluting fossil fuels, helping to lower harmful gas emissions and protect the environment. 

System Design Flexibility

Creating your own off-grid solar panel system gives you more flexibility in the design. You decide which solar components, brands, and production levels work best for your home. Many off-grid homeowners pair their systems with alternate energy sources, such as wind or backup generators. 

Cost Savings and Energy Awareness

Not being connected to the grid will lower your electric bills. Off-grid systems meet or exceed your home’s required electricity usage, resulting in more savings. You’ll also become more aware of your energy consumption and can work to conserve it when possible.


What Is the Difference Between Off-Grid and On-Grid Solar Systems?

A common misconception is that solar systems can fulfill 100% of your home’s energy needs. Though on-grid systems do reduce your electricity costs by relying mostly on solar energy, you still need grid-tied power when your solar panels aren’t in use or sun hours are limited.

An off-grid system lets you generate all of your own energy. This means you won’t receive backup power from the grid during power outages or low-sunlight days. Instead, you’ll use your solar power system to meet your energy needs. We recommend investing in solar batteries and backup generators to supply electricity overnight or during long periods of low sun.

Since your off-grid system must provide power for your entire home, it will be larger and more expensive than an on-grid system. On-grid systems are built to support energy needs but do not serve as your only electricity source. This means they’re smaller and cost less than off-grid options. The average cost of solar panels for an on-grid, 5 kilowatt-hour (kWh) system is $15,000–$20,000. An off-grid system costs more than twice as much.


Off-grid systems have many perks, but they aren’t suitable for everyone. We’ll review some best-case scenarios for moving to an off-grid system. 

Environmentally conscious individuals: Off-grid systems align with environmentally conscious individuals looking to reduce their carbon footprint. An off-grid solar panel installation eliminates fossil fuel usage and allows you to use 100% renewable energy. 
Frustrated grid-power users: If you experience frequent power outages or grid system failures, an off-grid system might help. Off-grid power guarantees sufficient energy to power your home without worrying about inconsistent grid connections. 
Mobile home or RV owners: An off-grid system will suit your needs if you frequently travel or live on the road. A portable off-grid setup can provide reliable and sustainable power no matter where you’re driving. 
Remote lifestyle enthusiasts: People who live in remote locations or own cabins could benefit from off-grid systems. They’re excellent investments for homes located too far from traditional power sources.

What Are the Costs of an Off-Grid System?

An off-grid system costs an average of $45,000–$65,000​. The total cost depends on several factors, such as system size, type, and components. Each factor impacts panel performance, efficiency, and long-term function. Here’s a detailed look at an off-grid system’s major cost factors.

Cost by Size

Most homes require a solar system between 5 and 7 kWh, but this varies based on energy needs and local climate. A home with abundant sunlight year-round could rely on a smaller solar panel system, but a home that experiences long winters or harsh weather will likely need more panels. Your system should produce enough energy to power your home and store excess energy for later use.

Cost by Type

Different off-grid systems have different configurations, price points, and advantages. We’ll review each system type in detail below. 

DC Solar System

Cost: $6,000–$10,000

A DC system includes no batteries or inverters, relying only on solar power. Other solar systems have an inverter that converts DC power received from the sun into alternating current (AC) energy needed to run a home. DC systems use DC power directly. 

If you experience low-sunlight days, your home won’t have any power. You also won’t have power options overnight. These systems produce minimal power, making them best for an RV, tiny house, or small cabin. At most, DC solar systems may power a few appliances.

Mixed DC and AC System

Cost: $10,000–$50,000

A mixed DC and AC system pairs solar panels with a battery backup. These systems offer more power than DC but are still considered small. With a mixed system, your solar panels generate electricity during the day, and your battery storage provides power at night. Most users incorporate multiple batteries for added backup power during cloudy days or blackouts. 

A mixed system also includes an inverter for AC power conversion. These systems work for smaller homes, including tiny houses.

AC System With Wind

Cost: $20,000–$80,000

These systems are great options if you experience less sun and more wind. They include solar panels, inverters, and one of the best solar batteries, plus a wind turbine that acts as an alternative power source when the main AC power goes down. The main AC system and the wind turbine can generate enough power to run your home and charge your batteries.

AC Solar System

Cost: $30,000–$60,000

AC solar systems offer more power and better performance than other systems. These systems work best in areas with plentiful sunlight. You’ll need a full solar system, additional batteries, and inverters for DC to AC power conversions. You must match your energy needs to your system size for the best results. The average AC solar system is 7 kWh but can increase to accommodate higher energy usage.

AC System With a Backup Generator

Cost:  $40,000–$70,000

This is one of the most popular types of off-grid home systems. Similar to the previous AC solar system, it includes solar panels, batteries, and an inverter. The added backup generator provides peace of mind for longer stretches of overcast days. The generator isn’t powerful enough to run your home every day. It only kicks in when your panels cannot actively generate solar power.

System Type Average Cost

DC only

$6,000–$10,000

Mixed DC and AC

$10,000–$50,000

AC with wind

$20,000–$80,000

AC only

$30,000–$60,000

AC with backup generator

$40,000–$70,000

Cost by Component

Off-grid systems have several components. All off-grid systems need solar panels, or modules, to capture sunlight. Your system can also include energy storage, inverters, alternative power sources, and other power distribution devices. We’ve broken down the costs of each component to help you budget accordingly. 

Solar Panels

Cost: $4,000–$14,000 

Solar panels are the most important component of any solar system. Solar panels work by capturing sunlight and converting it into usable energy. Overall system performance depends on your solar panel type, size, brand, and power output. Residential solar panels produce between 250 and 400 watts of power. You need 18–28 solar panels for a 7 kWh system. The higher the wattage, the fewer panels required. Investing in high-quality solar panels will increase costs but lead to better performance and energy savings.

Solar Battery

Cost: $4,000–$14,000

Solar batteries cost a significant amount but help power your home during cloudy days or overnight. As your solar panels generate energy during the day, energy diverts to the batteries to charge them. Once your panels stop working, your system taps into this stored energy to power your home. Adding multiple batteries will extend your storage capabilities, helping power your home for longer periods. 

Inverter

Cost: $7,000–$8,000

The inverter helps convert incoming DC energy to usable AC power. Depending on your system setup, you may need one inverter per solar battery. Inverters vary based on type, system size, and electricity needs.

Alternative Energy Source

Cost: $6,000–$20,000

Pairing an alternative energy source with your solar panels adds backup power when your panels aren’t in use. Final costs depend on the energy source. Adding a wind turbine will cost around $6,000–$11,000, while a backup generator is $10,000–$20,000.

Solar Charge Controller

Cost: $550–$600 per controller

A solar charge controller regulates the electric current that flows from the solar panel to the battery. It prevents overcharge and discharge, helping to preserve the battery’s life span. You’ll need a charge controller for each battery. For example, you’ll need four charge controllers if your off-grid system uses four solar batteries.

Labor Costs

Labor costs vary based on the solar system’s complexity, size, and added components. It accounts for roughly 10% of your total installation cost. For example, you might pay between $63,000 and $72,000 for a 10 kWh off-grid system, with $7,000–$8,000 going toward labor.

Solar Incentives and Credits

You should check for available solar incentives, rebates, and credits to lower your installation costs. These incentives are available at the federal, state, and city levels. The federal tax credit provides up to 30% of your installation costs back. According to the Solar Energy Technologies Office for the U.S. Department of Energy, you qualify for the federal solar credit even if you don’t have a grid-tied system. 

Additional tax credits and exceptions may be available in your area. We recommend checking the qualification for any requirements for grid connection. For example, when we researched Califoria’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), we found that the battery rebate only applies to grid-tied solar systems with energy storage.


Solar panels and batteries are vital to support your household electricity. They help to extend your panels’ performance and boost your long-term savings potential. The right solar panels will generate more energy than you need daily. A high-quality storage system can save that excess energy for later use. 

Solar Panels

Solar panels offer varying power outputs, life spans, and efficiency ratings. Efficiency measures how well solar panels convert sunlight into usable energy. The higher the rating, the better the energy conversion. For example, solar panels with a 20% efficiency rate convert 20% of absorbed sunlight. High-efficiency solar panels have rates of 21% or more.

There are three solar panel types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Here’s an overview of each type.

  • Monocrystalline (mono) panels: These panels offer the best efficiency and generate more power than other types. Because of their high performance, you’ll need fewer panels to power your home. Monocrystalline panels are more expensive but last 25 years or longer
  • Polycrystalline (poly) panels: These panels are less expensive than mono options but offer less power and efficiency. They last up to 20 years with regular maintenance. Because of their lower performance, you’ll need more panels to meet your energy needs. Consider your available roof space, power needs, and budget when comparing mono to poly panels
  • Thin-film panels: Thin-film panels are the least expensive option. However, they offer the lowest efficiency, power output, and life span. These panels work best for smaller projects with low-power needs, such as an RV, small shed, or garage. 

Solar Batteries

Different types of solar batteries provide different benefits and applications. We’ll cover the main options for off-grid systems.

  • Lead-acid batteries: These batteries have a long-standing history in the solar industry. Known as deep-cycle batteries, they can handle constant charging and discharging. One variation, flooded lead-acid batteries (FLA), works best in off-grid installations. These batteries can store large amounts of energy, are inexpensive, and are widely available. However, FLA batteries are water-based and require regular maintenance to ensure proper performance. In addition, they can only discharge about 50% of their capacity without damaging their life span or performance. FLA batteries last five to seven years on average. 
  • Lithium-ion batteries: Lithium batteries use a new technology that expands their storage capacity while decreasing their overall size. These batteries discharge up to 80% or more of their energy without impacting function. Lithium batteries take less time to charge, require little maintenance, and are more efficient than lead-acid varieties. These batteries also last up to 10 years. However, lithium-ion batteries are more expensive than lead-acid options. Popular lithium-ion batteries include the Tesla Powerwall and the LG Chem RESU.

How Do You Build an Off-Grid Solar Energy System?

Building an off-grid system requires careful planning. You must determine your energy needs before trying to assemble a system. Another term for this calculation is the electrical load. Once you determine your daily electricity demands, you should buy each component, verifying that they’re compatible with each other. Then, you’ll complete the final assembly.

Installing a solar system is a daunting task for most homeowners. You’ll need extensive knowledge of solar technology and a solar background as an electrician. Although some homeowners have the skill set to complete a do-it-yourself (DIY) solar system, we recommend hiring a professional solar installer. Though DIY solar systems can be worth it if you have the requisite skill and time.

We’ve provided a step-by-step overview of how to build an off-grid system to give you a clearer idea of the project. These are not exact assembly instructions. Instead, they serve as a checklist and guide for each necessary component and their place within the system.  

  1. Determine your charge load: You can calculate your electrical load based on your electrical bills or each appliance’s wattage needs. Check your electricity bills for a whole year and divide each month’s bill by the days in the month. This represents your daily electricity needs. For the second method, multiply each appliance’s wattage by the number of hours of everyday use. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provides a helpful guide to calculate appliance and home electronic energy use
  2. Choose your battery: Your battery should provide temporary power to your system. Most batteries are 12-volt (V), but 24V and 48V options are available. Based on our research, we recommend using either FLA or lithium-ion batteries for your off-grid installation. 
  3. Select your charge controller(s): You’ll need a charge controller for each battery. Controllers come in 12V and 24V options. Their voltage should align with your inverter. There are several types of charge controllers available. Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) controllers efficiently convert power from your panels to your battery bank. They are the more expensive option and work best for medium to large off-grid systems. Pulse width modulation (PWM) charge controllers are less expensive than MPPT and less efficient. They pair well with small to medium off-grid configurations.
  4. Pick your inverter(s): You won’t need an inverter if you choose a DC system. However, they’re necessary for other off-grid systems. Inverters come in 12V and 24V options. They should match the voltage for your charge controllers, solar panels, and batteries. Pure Sine Wave inverters work best for appliances and provide the best efficiency, but are the most expensive. Modified Sine Wave inverters are less efficient and work with simple electronics and appliances such as fans or lights. Hybrid inverters combine the best of the pure sine wave and modified sine wave inverters. They cost more than modified sine wave inverters but less than pure sine wave options. They work well for midrange systems and offer the right balance of price and performance. 
  5. Install your solar panels: Your chosen panels should match your entire system’s voltage. You’ll need enough panels based on your energy needs and the average sun hours in your area. The average peak sun hours in the United States is four to five hours per day, but this varies by location. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you should position your panels true south and away from any shading to achieve the best performance. 
  6. Connect your components: You’ll need additional cables, wires, and devices known as “balance-of-system.” These components help regulate the safe transition of electricity. This equipment includes solar cables, infusers, metering devices, and other wiring. Check the DOE’s guide to balance-of-system equipment needed for solar systems. These steps require advanced electrical knowledge, so it’s best left to a professional solar installer. 

Our Conclusion

Off-grid solar systems are an excellent alternative to traditional grid-tied systems that provide complete energy independence. Consider your energy needs and build a system that meets or exceeds those requirements. We recommend including an alternate energy source to support your home during extended periods without direct sunlight. 

The average off-grid system costs around $55,000, but this price varies based on system size, type, and additional components. Some advanced DIYers may be able to complete an off-grid installation, but we recommend a professional solar installer for the best results.

Get Estimates from Solar Experts in Your Area
Totally free, no phone call required

FAQ About Off-Grid Solar Systems

What is an off-grid solar system?

An off-grid solar system generates enough power to run a home without utility-tied electricity. These systems consist of solar panels, a battery bank, a charge controller, an inverter, and backup power sources. Off-grid systems are excellent options for remote homes and recreational vehicles. They also work for homeowners who want energy independence or more eco-friendly power options. 

How much does an off-grid solar system cost?

An off-grid system costs between $45,000 and $65,000, with an average price closer to $55,000. Cost varies based on your system size, type, and energy needs, as well as the components you choose.

How long do off-grid solar systems last?

An off-grid system can last 25 years or more with proper maintenance. However, certain components have varied life spans and may require replacement. High-quality solar panels and inverters can last up to 25 years. Solar batteries and charge controllers may need replacement after five to 10 years. 

Can I use off-grid solar systems for my home?

Yes, off-grid systems work with any residential home, even larger ones. Off-grid systems work best for remote homes or those with limited access to utility power. Due to their size and power capacity, off-grid systems are more expensive than grid-tied solar systems. They require careful planning to ensure they meet and exceed your home’s energy needs, as well as regular maintenance and upkeep. 

Do off-grid solar systems require maintenance?

Yes, off-grid systems require maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Maintenance includes cleaning the solar panels, caring for the batteries, and inspecting the charge controller and inverters. We recommend using a professional solar installer or technician to inspect your system. Regular maintenance extends your solar system’s life span. 

What components are needed for an off-grid solar system?

The main components needed for an off-grid solar system include solar panels to convert sunlight into DC electricity, a charge controller to regulate the charge to the batteries, batteries to store the energy, and an inverter to convert the DC electricity from the batteries to AC power for use in the home. Additional components may include a backup generator, monitoring equipment, and safety disconnects.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.