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  1. #121
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by rudyb View Post
    What is meant by glorified UPS? Does it mean that it only runs off solar when there is no Eskom supply?
    My axpert had two modes. Draw all power from panels and batteries, until batteries reach a low state of charge, and I forget the other mode. But there were no choices in how you want to schedule things, so as a result, all my panels did was charge the batteries in the absence of mains, but otherwise I got no benefit from the panels.

    I believe the newer models have better firmware and allow more flexibility?

    With a proper hybrid inverter, you can choose how to operate, and you need to be careful to avoid a grid tie inverter. The grid tie solution will work well in giving you a low energy bill, and does not have batteries, but you loose everything as soon as mains go down. Fronius makes a good one, if just lowering your electricity bill is your main objective.

    The Hybrid inverter supports mains, batteries and panels, and will typically power with panels and batteries first and then supplement with mains as required. NB it will also function with no mains, so you can carry on when eskom goes down depending on how you have wired things and how much power you have from solar and batteries.

    You need to make sure what you are after before committing. I am quite liking the Victron stuff and am putting a victron system into our place in Dbn at the moment. From talking to the installers and also from what I have heard here, they offer very good backup support and seem to be very modular. Worth a look at any rate.

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  3. #122
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by oubok View Post
    Hi T3,
    Your system and your management of it is impressive. I hope you will comment or make a suggestion regarding my system. I don't have any of the management tools you have, apart from what is built into my batts.
    Right, I upgraded recently and as I had two mecer 5kVa inverters which were working just fine I kept them and added another two. My main upgrade was replacing my original 3000w poly solar array with 6660w of mono panels facing NNE, I left 1800w of original panels facing NW and also added 1050w on the WSW facing side of my roof. The WSW panels are likely overkill but they do mean that I only start using the batts at sunset.
    I got rid of the legacy exide batts and installed an 8k bluenova which supplies all power to the house at night. The 8k batt would discharge to around soc 30% through the night so I decided to add another 4k bluenova in parallel for 12k total. Around 4 weeks ago the morning soc would be 65%, now soc is 60% in the morning. I'm expecting soc 43% on the worst winter days, say 12 hrs with no charging.
    The panel strings are split between the inverters, NNE array has two inverters each getting a 3330w string, one inverter on NW for the 1800w and another inverter for the 1050w on WSW. All inverters are in parallel.
    I took the plunge and decided to go off grid completely with this system, also I've heard that the inverters are likely to last longer not being tied to the grid, perhaps someone will verify that.
    What if any management system would you add? Are there any potential issues that you may see down the road that i should be aware of?
    Thanks for any observations/suggestions.
    I had a think about this.

    A thought to ponder on: Victron inverters are designed to run 24/7 grid tied, with a 5 year warranty.

    To optimally use a solar system, from what I've seen the last few years, you need software to tweak the optimal battery use and to schedule loads and all that.

    Mecer/Axpert inverters, the guys on another forum swear by that software Manie wrote: https://iccsoftware.co.za/about/shop/
    PS: I'm aware of the background ito the saga with ICC and what transpired, to a point. That aside, go direct to the developer, not via other sources.
    Political Correctness
    Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional illogical minority, rabidly promoted by a unscrupulous mainstream media which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd ... by the clean end!

    Saw this in a pub - no idea why the wife does not see it so:
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  4. #123
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by rudyb View Post
    What is meant by glorified UPS? Does it mean that it only runs off solar when there is no Eskom supply?
    Adding a MPPT to a UPS ... Brilliant idea if you ask me IF the OEM has an interest.

    In short, below the the highlights that I can recall, reading all on another forum over years, about the trials and tribulations of Axpert supporters.
    Man, typical SA and Aus, some serious plans where made. Respect.


    Axperts and all the names they are sold under, and the copies, are at their core all UPS'es.
    Then Voltronic, the OEM, first added PWM's and later MPPT's to their UPS'es a couple of years ago.

    SA was first introduced to Axperts, the first PWM models, by IT companies like Mustek, when their was a huge shortage of long running UPS'es at the height of Eskom power failures.
    It was suggested to buy the Axpert UPS and by adding panels you can extend their runtimes.

    I contacted Voltronic, seeing as they ignore all contact, and got a reply when I said I want to buy 10 000 x 5kva Axperts, the questions I asked them:
    1) Any official testing reports like for example the docs all the main solar OEM's have, to ensure their equipment meets like local SA regulations?
    2) It it a bybrid or off-grid inverter seeing as it must be connected to a DB, and in SA that is covered by NRS/SANS regulations that all sparkies have access to?

    Voltronic replied that Axperts are sold as off-grid inverter and provided me with a ROCS(?) "certification" ... which meant nothing.

    The concerns I saw for myself, where:
    UPS'es are not designed to run 24/7. The volumes that Axpert inverters are sold in SA has resulted in a number of repair places. One such center in Cpt repairs like over a 1000 per annum, I was told.
    Interfacing a MPPT with a UPS needs firmware, firmware that the manufacturer should keep up to date as bugs are reported, and not ignore all the feedback.
    Firmware fixes where done by enthusiasts, not via official channels.
    One should not use voltage as a SOC. Axpert users tended to go for BMV's to get a more accurate SOC.
    The Axpert OEM firmware, at one time, if it was not fixed, had an issue where it "damaged" batteries over time i.e. shortening their live expectancy.
    Axpert users, with lead acid banks, also favoured battery balancers cause more than 8 x 100ah batteries was a bastard to keep "balanced". Not a Axpert issue, but a result of paralleling to many 100ah's.

    There is a free upgraded firmware version called KettleComp TM where quite a bit was fixed and improved upon on the OEM firmware to not only not damaged the batteries over time, the exact details escape me, but also to cater for when a kettle boils aka the KettleComp name. The firmware upgrade was done by serious Axpert enthusiasts residing on Australia, Coulomb and Weber, Coulomb the main contact.

    But it was only for, if memory serves, the 5kva Axpert models.

    The short version.
    The longer version of the history, and latest improvements, can be found on another forum.
    Political Correctness
    Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional illogical minority, rabidly promoted by a unscrupulous mainstream media which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd ... by the clean end!

    Saw this in a pub - no idea why the wife does not see it so:
    I'm not opinionated ... I'm just always right!

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  6. #124
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by stephenplumb View Post
    My axpert had two modes. Draw all power from panels and batteries, until batteries reach a low state of charge, and I forget the other mode. But there were no choices in how you want to schedule things, so as a result, all my panels did was charge the batteries in the absence of mains, but otherwise I got no benefit from the panels.

    I believe the newer models have better firmware and allow more flexibility?

    With a proper hybrid inverter, you can choose how to operate, and you need to be careful to avoid a grid tie inverter. The grid tie solution will work well in giving you a low energy bill, and does not have batteries, but you loose everything as soon as mains go down. Fronius makes a good one, if just lowering your electricity bill is your main objective.

    The Hybrid inverter supports mains, batteries and panels, and will typically power with panels and batteries first and then supplement with mains as required. NB it will also function with no mains, so you can carry on when eskom goes down depending on how you have wired things and how much power you have from solar and batteries.

    You need to make sure what you are after before committing. I am quite liking the Victron stuff and am putting a victron system into our place in Dbn at the moment. From talking to the installers and also from what I have heard here, they offer very good backup support and seem to be very modular. Worth a look at any rate.
    What I would like is probably what most people expect from a solar system, to reduce costs and keep a few things running while Eskom is down. I can now see how a lack of understanding can result in money being spent without getting the desired result. Which inverter will run primarily from solar, supplement with eskom or batteries and provide backup when eskom is down?

  7. #125
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by rudyb View Post
    What I would like is probably what most people expect from a solar system, to reduce costs and keep a few things running while Eskom is down. I can now see how a lack of understanding can result in money being spent without getting the desired result. Which inverter will run primarily from solar, supplement with eskom or batteries and provide backup when eskom is down?
    There are so many and perhaps one should know is there a budget value. Also what load during LS.
    Looking at the controller plus inverter one cannot get it at lower cost than a Axpert type. What is a big plus is the current range in 24V has the plus version MPPT controller for a 1500W input.
    It has the 3 mode option of using all incoming solar 1st, then battery power and only at the low setting back to grid. Then lower down a cut out. The various settings are adjustable but no timed period to use any of the 3 sources. AFAIK.
    Not NRS approved.
    Last edited by ekkekan; 2021/04/07 at 06:56 PM.

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  9. #126
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    Default How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by the_terrible_triplett View Post
    PS: I'm aware of the background ito the saga with ICC and what transpired, to a point. That aside, go direct to the developer, not via other sources.
    Link?
    Last edited by bees; 2021/04/08 at 07:18 AM.

  10. #127
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by rudyb View Post
    What I would like is probably what most people expect from a solar system, to reduce costs and keep a few things running while Eskom is down. I can now see how a lack of understanding can result in money being spent without getting the desired result. Which inverter will run primarily from solar, supplement with eskom or batteries and provide backup when eskom is down?
    What I tell everyone who would listen, IF you connect a solar system to your DB, get a NRS approved solar inverter.

    Maybe ones Munic does not care today, but the day they start to care, you will be forced to register like we've had had to do in Cpt, as the CoCT Munic enforces the national NRS/SANS regulations cause they want to get "ready" to not rely on Eskom anymore AND the fact that Eskom/ANC is "watching them", looking for an excuse. (after the AND my personal view)

    Here is the NRS list again, compiled for free, with compliments, for CoCT:
    https://resource.capetown.gov.za/doc...ter%20List.pdf

    O, and another titbit, how would they know if one has panels?
    Obviously driving past ones house, the "Karen" reporting one, but that is so old school. They also have weeks old aerial photos AND/OR drones. Jip, that is how CoCT apparently checks the likes of i.e. building regulation conformation and solar panels, checking that against their records like a building alteration is/has taken place, where there plans submitted, see panels on a roof, is the system registered. Fines up to R6500 for not registering ones solar panels as off-grid or grid tied, which is free to register, coupled with forced removal if not registered.

    Now here is another "issue" I see.
    CoCT makes it easy to register and they don't have any "additional" charges, just need a PAYG meter IF you don't want to feed anything back. Easy and simple.
    Other Munic's have a different views/approaches/charges/PAYG meters that does not allow ANY solar connection as they trip ... and maybe even more charges as they do "loose" income and all that.
    One size fitting all? Nope.
    Political Correctness
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    Saw this in a pub - no idea why the wife does not see it so:
    I'm not opinionated ... I'm just always right!

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  12. #128
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by rudyb View Post
    What I would like is probably what most people expect from a solar system, to reduce costs and keep a few things running while Eskom is down. I can now see how a lack of understanding can result in money being spent without getting the desired result. Which inverter will run primarily from solar, supplement with eskom or batteries and provide backup when eskom is down?
    I have a sun sync/Deye at home and that does the job. I have just opted for a Victron in Dbn, and the cost difference was not great between the two systems. My place in Dbn has a tiny garage (i cant park anything bigger than an UP! in there) so space is a big consideration. We have opted for a Victron 5KVA and Battery which is coming in at around 100k installed. I am pretty sure you could do this cheaper if you DIY the whole thing, but I am not there so not an option.

    My understanding is then, that I will just add panels and an MPPT to harvest some solar. I got a thumbtack quote of around 70K for that. Again, if you are willing to DIY you can probably lower these costs, or just add as money allows. We still need to get body corp approval before going with the panels.

    I think the main thing is to figure out where you want to end up and then make sure whatever you buy gets you there in the end. Having paid some school fees, I am now pretty confident that this system will work for me.

    I also always things about ease of use. I read from TTT about downloading firmware and custom configs, but my wife and I are often in different locations, and I don't want to have to start plugging in serial ports and programming things because it does not work.

    The Victron can be remotely configured, and with my sunSync/Deye I can also see what is going on remotely and have a good idea of how the system is working. This is definitely nice to have. All those fancy graphs you see here are coming from the applications that ship with the systems and you can literally control different modes etc from your phone. If your wife is often going to need to run the system without you, or if you are not technical, it may well be worth the extra dosh to have an easy to use system.

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  14. #129
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by bees View Post
    Link?
    Was in the post.

    For your convenience: https://iccsoftware.co.za/about/shop/
    Last edited by the_terrible_triplett; 2021/04/08 at 07:46 AM.
    Political Correctness
    Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional illogical minority, rabidly promoted by a unscrupulous mainstream media which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd ... by the clean end!

    Saw this in a pub - no idea why the wife does not see it so:
    I'm not opinionated ... I'm just always right!

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  16. #130
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by stephenplumb View Post
    I read from TTT about downloading firmware and custom configs, but my wife and I are often in different locations, and I don't want to have to start plugging in serial ports and programming things because it does not work.
    On the contrary, although I mention how configurable these systems are, all the options, the add-ons, you don't have to touch it at all, ever, as the systems are "Plug and Play" with bare bones configs like i.e. type of battery, Bulk/Absorb/Float voltages etc required. But that goes for ALL inverters.

    And even though you can now even upgrade the inverter firmware remotely, and so far it appears to be a HUGE success, the BMV's, MPPT's, Venus etc, their firmware upgrades are like "falling off a horse" easy as it is all automated, tried and thoroughly tested over years.

    And then there is also: Don't go and tamper with something that works ... unless you are onsite yourself IN CASE something does not work onetime.

    DIY, they way I cut some of the costs: I knew when a installer installs everything, that they add a % for all the parts, so:
    • I did not install my own panels, I just supplied them.
    • All cabling, connectors, frames and fasteners was installer supplied, to not have to drive for bits.
    • Did not do the AC side myself, Sparkie did that AND he made it "Wife Easy" to connect/disconnect the AC and DC systems with child safe switches.
    • If the system has an issue, wife can switch off the panels, the inverter and batteries with ease, and go back to 100% Eskom supplied.
    • Supplied the Victron parts myself that the Sparkie connected under my "supervision", as I knew more than he did, today he knows as much as I do. Just follow the install page.
    • I did all the configs myself BUT there are local Victron dealers who can assist one.


    And IF the local dealer cannot help, dealer can ask Victron in the Netherlands to help, as they can access ALL the parts if there is a Venus in the mix. They literally log into the Venus seeing all the salient data to be able to identify the problem IF the local dealer cannot.

    The backup and support, the warranties, the level at which Victron handles it, makes the price of their equipment moot, it is worth every cent when you need help.
    Political Correctness
    Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional illogical minority, rabidly promoted by a unscrupulous mainstream media which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd ... by the clean end!

    Saw this in a pub - no idea why the wife does not see it so:
    I'm not opinionated ... I'm just always right!

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  18. #131
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by the_terrible_triplett View Post
    Was in the post.

    For your convenience: https://iccsoftware.co.za/about/shop/
    I meant the saga... have used ICC on my Axpert in the past. Just curious about the drama surrounding the software...

  19. #132
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    Default Re: How are all you Vaalies who are off grid doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by bees View Post
    I meant the saga... have used ICC on my Axpert in the past. Just curious about the drama surrounding the software...
    Aaaa ... very long story, maybe over a beer, but not on a public forum, as Manie and I spoke a lot about the dramas and intrigue.

    See, before ICC, there was SolWEB ... till I pulled it. So, yeah, I was "there", we spoke a LOT, me and ICC.

    AND, less I forget, there are 5 sides to all "fights":
    1) Offended party's version of the "facts".
    2) Offended party's lawyer's interpretation of what they see as the "facts".
    3) Other party's version of their "facts".
    4) Other party's lawyer's interpretation of what they see as their "facts".
    5) And then there is what the judge says the facts are.
    Political Correctness
    Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional illogical minority, rabidly promoted by a unscrupulous mainstream media which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd ... by the clean end!

    Saw this in a pub - no idea why the wife does not see it so:
    I'm not opinionated ... I'm just always right!

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