Going Off-Grid with Solar in the City: What You Need to Know

October 24, 2023

The allure of going off-grid is undeniable. The idea of being self-sufficient, reducing your carbon footprint, and not relying on utility companies is tempting for many urban dwellers.

But is it feasible to go off-grid with solar in a city or urban environment? Let's dive in.

Understanding the Urban Off-Grid Dream

Firstly, it's essential to understand what "going off-grid" truly means.

In the context of solar energy, it refers to generating your own electricity using solar panels and not being connected to the local utility grid at all. In an urban setting, this can be a bit more complex.

The City/Utility Company Process

Most utility companies have strict regulations about disconnecting from the grid. It's not as simple as just turning off a switch. In many cases, utility companies won't allow you to disconnect entirely. There are safety and regulatory reasons behind this.

Attempting to disconnect without proper approvals can lead to significant physical harm, legal consequences, and hefty fines.

Solar Equipment and Approvals

If you're serious about going off-grid in the city, you'll need to invest in solar equipment. This includes solar panels, inverters, and possibly batteries. Before installing anything, it's crucial to:

  1. Research Local Regulations: Every city has its own rules about solar installations. Some might require permits, while others might have restrictions on where and how panels can be installed.
  2. Consult with a Solar Expert: They can guide you on the best system for your needs and help navigate the approval process. (Fill out the form if you want to chat!)
  3. Get the Necessary Approvals: This might involve getting permits from the city and getting approval from your utility company.

If during your research you find that you are unable to disconnect from your utility company, don't fret! There are still ways to effectively be off-grid while still technically being connected.

Batteries: Your Off-Grid Powerhouse

While solar panels can generate electricity during the day, what happens when the sun goes down? This is where batteries come into play. By storing excess energy generated during the day, batteries allow you to use solar power even when the sun isn't shining. This is especially useful during blackouts, making you, in essence, operate off-grid even if you're still technically connected.

Inverters: The Unsung Heroes

Even if you decide not to invest in batteries, some inverters can allow you to utilize power from the sun during the day, even if there's a blackout in your area. This feature, known as "secure power supply" or "islanding," can be a lifesaver during extended power outages.

The Hybrid Approach: Best of Both Worlds

For those who find going entirely off-grid in the city challenging, there's a middle ground. A hybrid system involves being connected to the grid but also having solar panels and batteries. This way, you can generate and store your own electricity, using it primarily, and only draw from the grid when necessary. It gives you the independence and resilience of an off-grid system while still having the security of grid connection.


Going off-grid in an urban environment is a commendable goal, but it's essential to approach it with a clear understanding of the challenges and requirements. While completely disconnecting might not be feasible for everyone, there are ways to harness solar power and achieve a degree of independence from the grid.

Whether you opt for a hybrid system or invest in batteries and advanced inverters, take 15 min to discuss your energy goals with us and we'd be happy to help!

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