Home solar setup advise





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  1. #1
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    Default Home solar setup advise

    Hi forum members.
    There are so many options available with a multitude of configurations. Also conflicting information about wether X inverter is hybrid or not.
    What I would like to end up with is a system that mixes energy from available sources. And it seems there is two ways of doing it.
    The first is the ‘rolls Royce’ hybrid setup with one single inverter. The second is the two inverter setup which can be installed in phases, this usually starts off with a backup power system and then PV solar is added at a later stage.

    I need some advise on both and from the sketch below is what I would like to achieve. I used some online calculator to estimate power consumption for a 3 bedroom + pool home.
    For example, During the day I want to limit PV to 3.6kw and supplement with utility to make up the difference of required consumption. For the evening I want to run battery and supplement with utility.
    What budget inverter setup, options can achieve this? For example I think the Axpert/Mercer/Growatt has hybrid function and should work but can’t be sure it’s actually a hybrid.

    I don’t specifically want a hybrid, because I may have an incorrect understanding of what that is, I simply want to understand what system will do what I want it to do.

    Any advise would be appreciated.
    Last edited by SchyffS; 2020/02/15 at 10:34 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    What do you define/understand as Hybrid?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    When I started with this my db was more or less 40 years old - you can imagine what that looks like. Luckily for me, the db is in the garage and I had a 3 row surface mount db installed over the original. This allows me a lot of freedom in moving loads around.

    Row 1:
    Incoming power form municipality through the main switch. Then the Earth leakage distributing power to circuit breakers. Here I have most plugs, the stove and oven, pool pump etc. From this row I then feed my hybrid inverter. 5kVA Axpert.

    Row 2:
    Incoming power from the inverter - whether from 220V straight through the inverter, batteries or solar, passing through another main switch and earth leakage. Then all the loads. In case lights, office power (for computers, wifi etc) and now also the fridge and my borehole pump.

    Row 3:

    A generator switch - but not for a generator - it switches row 2 between the inverter or municipal supply. This way, if my inverter goes down , break or get stolen - I can bypass it safely and get my house back and running with one switch.


    With this setup I can remove a circuit breaker from row one, move it into row 2 and it is immediately on the inverter system. So as I expand my system I can put more load on the inverter. I got 4 x 365 , 48V panels from a friend recently and are now considering to put the pool pump on the inverter and run it only during the day.


    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    The most important advice I can give, that requires no technical knowledge, is that you find an experienced installer!

    Look on powerforum. Co.za,there is a great deal of info there.

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  6. #5
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Quote Originally Posted by SAND View Post
    What do you define/understand as Hybrid?
    It can mix or combine energy sources to ensure demand is met. It can also function as a backup system.

    And perhaps I simply don’t understand any of the sales sites as they usually give less explanation of how the product works and more detailed technical specifications.

  7. #6
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    Default Home solar setup advise

    Quote Originally Posted by Uys View Post
    From this row I then feed my hybrid 5Kva Axpert
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is the type of simple logic I need to understand

    Can you post a pic and model number for your hybrid, this is where I am stuck. Some websites state its hybrid but when I call them I get told it’s not and some says it is.

    My point is that, perhaps I don’t understand what hybrid is, but I want an inverter that can mix energy, not the type that provides either PV or utility or battery one at a time.
    Last edited by SchyffS; 2020/02/16 at 06:31 AM.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    You are in Cape Town and they have list of inverters approved to be connected to their grid.

    List
    http://resource.capetown.gov.za/docu...ter%20List.pdf



    Also read here.
    https://powerforum.co.za/topic/2109-...#comment-34754
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Quote Originally Posted by SchyffS View Post
    , but I want an inverter that can mix energy not the type that provides either PV or utility or battery one at a time.

    That is exactly what I do with this inverter.
    Everything is a hammer.
    Unless it is a screw driver.

    Then it it a chisel.

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  12. #9
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Quote Originally Posted by Prof View Post
    You are in Cape Town and they have list of inverters approved to be connected to their grid.
    [/URL]
    Thanks, I am aware of the list and these inverters are costly.

    Which of these can:
    1. Mix energy (PV, utility, battery) and
    2. Not feedback to the grid and
    3. Is reasonably priced

  13. #10
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Perfect, I will google this product for price.

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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Quote Originally Posted by SchyffS View Post
    Thanks, I am aware of the list and these inverters are costly.

    Which of these can:
    1. Mix energy (PV, utility, battery) and
    2. Not feedback to the grid and
    3. Is reasonably priced
    I don't have the link but google on youtube the video from greenenergysolutions that has been shared a few times where a Solis is used for the loads like stove, geyser, pool pump etc used as grid tied and then use a second inverter like a Mecer/Axpert for the always on circuits via back up for plugs and lights. This to me looks more or less in line with what you want to achieve.

    Even after the greenenergysolutions video has been shown it seems very few of our members are interested in such a configuration.

    I know my input using 2 inverters is not what 99% of people would do. It seems from those posting all prefer the single inverter hybrid route. I view it in a way where if one inverter is out of order the second one might still work. Yes I do know if there is no grid the grid tied will not work but then the panels could be used to the Mecer/batteries via a change over switch to charge batteries and have power to essential circuits.

    May be the CT clamp would not prevent any feed back and using it on a pre-paid meter might get it to switch power off.

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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    The Axpert is not on the CoCT list. If you want to use it you can use it only as a backup inverter, you can't connect the grid to it.

    As I understand it, the way the King works in its "grid tied" mode (that is not really grid tied) is by using it's ability to convert AC from the grid to DC to charge the battery. If the PV and battery can't give enough DC power alone to power the loads, it will add some DC from the grid that it's using for charging and convert that back to AC. So it's inefficient as you're converting twice. It also can't power loads greater than the inverter's rating, which a true grid tied inverter has no problem with.


    Quote Originally Posted by ekkekan View Post
    Yes I do know if there is no grid the grid tied will not work but then the panels could be used to the Mecer/batteries via a change over switch to charge batteries and have power to essential circuits.
    Have you managed to install such a switchover or know of anyone who has? From what I've read it would be problematic as you would wire the PV strings with different voltages for a string inverter and for a charger.

    Seems better to bite the bullet and go for a proper Hybrid Grid Tied from the start, like a GoodWe or something along those lines.

  16. #13
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    Default Home solar setup advise

    @ekkekan, I will search for that video. Yes, that is what I would like to achieve. Although the more I read it seems a better bet to bite the bullet as @kari mentioned and get the hybrid. I finally understand the two inverter setup.

    Going hybrid comes at a huge initial cost....which is the drawback. Going with mixed brands and components could result in compatibility issues and therefore best left for the experts. Unless I could copy the installation of a proven system from another user.

    @kari, thank you for the counter arguments, it helped me to understand other things better.
    Last edited by SchyffS; 2020/02/16 at 06:29 AM.

  17. #14
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Quote Originally Posted by kari View Post
    The Axpert is not on the CoCT list. If you want to use it you can use it only as a backup inverter, you can't connect the grid to it.

    As I understand it, the way the King works in its "grid tied" mode (that is not really grid tied) is by using it's ability to convert AC from the grid to DC to charge the battery. If the PV and battery can't give enough DC power alone to power the loads, it will add some DC from the grid that it's using for charging and convert that back to AC. So it's inefficient as you're converting twice. It also can't power loads greater than the inverter's rating, which a true grid tied inverter has no problem with.




    Have you managed to install such a switchover or know of anyone who has? From what I've read it would be problematic as you would wire the PV strings with different voltages for a string inverter and for a charger.

    Seems better to bite the bullet and go for a proper Hybrid Grid Tied from the start, like a GoodWe or something along those lines.
    Spot on, on all accounts. In august I installed 2 Kings in a vehicle, long story, but for now they are fantastic. A better description of them would be Solar assisted on-line UPS.

    Basically mains, or Solar, or both simultaneously are converted to 48V DC which drives an Inverter and charges the batteries at the same time. They can be set to Solar PV priority which maximizes your use of Solar energy before calling on the grid for assistance.

    They are grid connected, but not grid tied, which means there is no chance of back feeding into the Grid, either intentionally or unintentionally.

    I can vouch for the fact that when in parallel they share both load and battery flawlessly. Two in parallel will give 10kVA constant supply and probably close to 20 kVA surge. They are also HV DC capable which means the PV voltage is very high, allowing cheaper thin cabling, a major cost factor in large Solar PV arrays.
    Cheers

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  19. #15
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Quote Originally Posted by SchyffS View Post
    @ekkekan, I will search for that video. Although the more I read it seems a better bet to bite the bullet as @kari mentioned and get the hybrid. I finally understand the two inverter setup.

    Going hybrid comes at a huge initial cost....which is the drawback. But it seems these different inverters are not always compatible and better to have a system that works seamlessly without constant tweaking.

    @kari, thank you for the counter arguments, it helped me to understand things better.
    The major advantage of the true hybrid is a much simpler and more elegant system design and installation. One box, in, out, and batteries. Integrated WIFI, monitoring, consumption meter, BMS, mains charger, PV charge controller, inverter etc.

    In a discrete system it’s up to somebody to select all the bits and pieces, and make them work as a system. But it is more flexible, allowing the designer to optimize the design for the application, and also more fault tolerant.

    I am of the opinion that true hybrids are better for DIY, and normal domestic systems. Discrete come into their own when you have special requirements and larger systems.
    Cheers

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  21. #16
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Decided to make a ‘drawing’ of what you explained to be sure I do understand. Please verify:

  22. #17
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Quote Originally Posted by ekkekan View Post
    I don't have the link but google on youtube the video from greenenergysolutions that has been shared a few times where a Solis is used for the loads like stove, geyser, pool pump etc used as grid tied and then use a second inverter like a Mecer/Axpert for the always on circuits via back up for plugs and lights. This to me looks more or less in line with what you want to achieve.

    Even after the greenenergysolutions video has been shown it seems very few of our members are interested in such a configuration.
    I couldn’t find that video and since I understand better with drawings I made one to be sure I understood your explanation, is this correct?

  23. #18
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    Spot on, on all accounts. In august I installed 2 Kings in a vehicle, long story, but for now they are fantastic.
    They are grid connected, but not grid tied, which means there is no chance of back feeding into the Grid, either intentionally or unintentionally.
    Same story, is this what the install looks like?

  24. #19
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Video @ekkekan is referring to

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  25. #20
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    Default Re: Home solar setup advise

    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    They are also HV DC capable which means the PV voltage is very high, allowing cheaper thin cabling, a major cost factor in large Solar PV arrays.
    So a DC changeover like @ekkekan suggested may be possible? Would really love someone else to try it and report back

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