5 Best Off-Grid Solar Systems of 2023 – MarketWatch

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Check out our picks for the best off-grid solar systems that you can buy today and compare features, pricing and more.

Aniket Bhor is a solar engineer who has spent nearly a decade studying and working in the solar power sector in the European, Asian and North American markets. He is a climate enthusiast and avid cyclist, and he also loves to lose himself in books and cooking.

Tori Addison is an editor who has worked in the digital marketing industry for over five years. Her experience includes communications and marketing work in the nonprofit, governmental and academic sectors. A journalist by trade, she started her career covering politics and news in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her work included coverage of local and state budgets, federal financial regulations and health care legislation.
Despite the rise of grid-tied solar systems, off-grid solar panels continue to be in demand. The best off-grid solar systems offer an easy way to power remote cabins, camper vans and nearly everything that lies or ventures outside grid coverage.
We at the Guides Home Team have conducted hours of market research and reviewed dozens of products to create a reliable list of the best off-grid solar systems. We based each pick on our in-depth solar methodology, which focuses on key factors like system components, price and warranties to help you find the best fit for your off-grid solar project.
See our list of top solar providers based on in-depth research.
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You can utilize solar power through off-grid or grid-tied (or on-grid) systems. Although both systems technically work the same way, the difference lies in whether you connect your panels to the local electricity grid. While off-grid systems still use solar panels to produce energy, they rely on batteries to store excess production rather than sending it back to the grid, as with a conventional (or grid-tied) home solar system. You can use that stored energy to power your devices in remote locations.
Grid-tied systems are more common today since the majority of the population lives in the coverage area of an electric grid. However, off-grid solar is often the only option if you plan to power a cabin in the woods, a recreational vehicle (RV) or even boats.
Off-grid solar is swiftly becoming popular, especially among outdoor and do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts. However, going off-grid comes with pros and cons.
Pros of Off-Grid Solar
Cons of Off-Grid Solar
 
 
There are a few factors to consider when shopping for an off-grid power system.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Renogy is popular among off-grid enthusiasts for offering solar kits that combine reliability and affordability. The 400 W kit includes everything needed for an off-grid solar array of this size, including four high-efficiency, monocrystalline solar panels and two 100 amp-hour batteries for ample energy storage (you can pick between AGM or lithium-ion batteries).
The kit also includes modern controllers with digital displays, a basic but reliable 1,000 W inverter, and all the necessary cables, fasteners and connectors. Renogy claims this unit can generate up to 2 kilowatt-hours (kWh) each day — sufficient for a small cabin or a camper.
What’s included:
Why we picked it: Renogy’s complete off-grid solar kit offers affordable pricing at less than $5 per watt. Plus, it offers some of the best solar panels on the market — with solar cells that can reach up to 22% efficiency. We also like how comprehensive this kit is, with every small component included.
To learn more: Visit Renogy’s official website.
 
 
altE’s base kit comes in a handy 300 W size, which includes two monocrystalline solar panels and offers unique customization options. You can choose between an AGM battery or a lithium battery. If you want to install a more permanent system, you can also choose between roof-mounting or pole-mounting racking equipment.
The kit is quite affordable in its basic form, costing just over $1,100. altE also rightly calls it a “cabin kit” since it is a perfect fit for small-sized off-grid cabins.
What’s included:
Why we picked it: The altE 300 W Base Kit offers essential solar equipment (batteries not included) and mounting options to power your cabin. Its monocrystalline solar panels and AGM and lithium battery add-on options offer modern technology for reasonable pricing. But the best highlight of this kit is its customizability, especially with roof and pole mount racking options.
To learn more: Visit altE’s official website.
 
 
Goal Zero is considered one of the best portable solar product companies. Its robust, high-quality solar panels and generators have taken the off-grid world by storm. The Yeti 1000X and Boulder 200 briefcase combo offers a rugged, portable off-grid kit for those who need power on all sorts of outdoor adventures.
A foldable, briefcase design makes your solar panels easy to carry and store. And the solar generator comes with an integrated battery, inverter and ready-to-use ports.
What’s included:
Why we picked it: Goal Zero’s kit offers exceptional simplicity of use along with incredible portability. It eliminates excess connectors, cables and all the effort needed to wire a system. You simply plug the panel cable into the generator, and it charges the battery. Similarly, you can just plug your appliance directly into one of the generator’s ports, like using a wall unit.
To learn more: Visit Goal Zero’s official website.
 
 
If you don’t need to run a dozen appliances on your solar kit, WindyNation’s 100 W package offers a basic output without breaking the bank. The kit comes with a 100 W monocrystalline solar panel, an AGM battery, a pure sine wave inverter and other miscellaneous components.
The kit has no smart components or outstanding features, but it manages to compile all the minimum necessities into one affordable package.
What’s included:
Why we picked it: Not all buyers are looking for a full-fledged system that can run fridges, TVs and other appliances. The WindyNation 100 W kit can power a few lights and a fan for a small cabin or boat. It is also easy to connect and relatively inexpensive.
To learn more: Visit WindyNation’s official website.
 
 
Not everyone needs a small off-grid kit —some people may need enough power to sustain a large cabin full of modern appliances. Eco-Worthy’s 4,800 W kit offers plenty of power to keep a modern cabin running continuously. This system is so well-specced that it can provide backup power to run your whole house for a few hours.
While typical grid-tied solar systems with batteries often cost tens of thousands of dollars, this kit bundles everything into one neat package for less than $10,000.
What’s included:
Why we picked it: Eco-Worthy’s off-grid home solar kit bridges the gap between smaller kits and full-fledged solar systems without costing a fortune.
To learn more: Visit Eco-Worthy’s official website.
 
 
While specific components will vary by company, most off-grid solar system kits include the following:
 
 
Off-grid solar systems offer an excellent power source when you don’t have access to the grid, making them popular among campers and people looking to power tiny homes or cabins. They are also a great way to power appliances in an outhouse or food truck, helping to lessen your reliance on a traditional utility company.
There are dozens of off-grid kits available on the market, each offering a different set of component specifications and features. No single kit is the overall best — you will need to consider specific parameters depending on your needs.
For instance, the Goal Zero bundle is a superb option if you plan to connect, disconnect and move your system. Similarly, the Windynation 100 W is perfect for someone looking for a very basic kit costing a few hundred bucks. Alternatively, the Eco-Worthy 4800 W kit is a good choice for larger applications that require maximum power or home battery backup.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to understand your own requirements, then narrow down a few options and choose based on system features, warranties and cost. If you are looking for a more permanent solar option, check out our guide to the top solar companies for residential use.

 
 
A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work with solar power systems. The system size you need will depend on your energy consumption. You can use an online calculator to figure this out or do some basic calculations. Based on your calculation, you can select the appropriate system size and features. Here’s an example of energy calculations:
Based on the above figures, your total energy usage would be around 1.94 kWh, which converts to 129 W. So for this example, the Goal Zero Yeti 1000X + Boulder 200 or altE Off-Grid 300 W Base Kit systems would supply enough energy to meet consumption needs.
Energy sources have different efficiencies, ranging from 10% to 90%. Solar power converts light to electricity at an efficiency of around 20%. Since a solar panel’s input (sunlight) is readily available in most places and easy to convert, off-grid solar is better than most other options, like wind energy.
On-grid and off-grid systems serve different purposes, so we cannot label one as the best. Off-grid systems are useful in situations that do not require a power grid, such as camping. But since on-grid solar panels connect to the local power grid, they are generally better suited for homeowners looking to lower electricity bills.
If you are looking to power a camper, cabin or tiny home, an off-grid solar system is worth it unless you have another readily available and cheap source of electricity. Off-grid systems are relatively simple in terms of installation and use, offer a long service life and can help reduce your carbon footprint and lower electricity costs.
You can purchase an off-grid solar power kit online by visiting the retailer’s website. You can also look on websites like Amazon or other online marketplaces. While most DIY solar kits are ideal for beginners, more advanced systems may require professional installation.
 
 
We closely evaluate solar installation companies with a focus on the factors most important to homeowners like you. We based our solar company methodology on input from multiple homeowner surveys, discussions with industry experts and research into the renewable energy market. Our review process involves assessing each company on the following criteria, which we then use to calculate a rating out of 5 stars.

  • Cost and payment options (20 points): Cost is one of the most important factors when installing a solar energy system. Solar providers that offer cash purchases and in-house loan financing earn full points in this category. Companies also receive bonus points for offering solar panel leasing or power purchase agreements (PPAs).
  • Services (20 points): In addition to solar installations, companies offering backup battery and electric vehicle charger installations, energy efficiency audits and system monitoring earn the most points in this category. Companies can also receive points for completing installations in-house, as opposed to using third-party contractors.
  • Reputation (20 points): To assess the reputation of each company, we consider Google star ratings, Better Business Bureau (BBB) scores and reviews, and NABCEP certification status. We also look at customer complaint rates on sites like the BBB and weigh how the company responds.
  • Warranty (15 points): We verify that each company offers workmanship, product and performance warranties on all of its solar installs. A provider earns more points for extending warranties that meet or exceed industry standards, including 10 years for system workmanship and products and 25 years for panel performance.
  • Customer Support (10 points): Solar companies that offer virtual consultations, a mobile app, 24/7 customer support and high customer satisfaction with backend support earn the most points in this category.
  • Industry Experience (10 points): Providers with 10 or more years of experience in the solar installation industry earn a perfect score in this category.
  • Sustainability (5 points):To measure sustainability, we assess each company based on whether it shares a detailed sustainability statement or ESG disclosures on its website. We also conduct research to see if companies offer end-of-life panel disposal programs or have eco-friendly community partnerships.

 
Aniket Bhor is a solar engineer who has spent nearly a decade studying and working in the solar power sector in the European, Asian and North American markets. He is a climate enthusiast and avid cyclist, and he also loves to lose himself in books and cooking.
Tori Addison is an editor who has worked in the digital marketing industry for over five years. Her experience includes communications and marketing work in the nonprofit, governmental and academic sectors. A journalist by trade, she started her career covering politics and news in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her work included coverage of local and state budgets, federal financial regulations and health care legislation.
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