Navitron Renewable Energy and Sustainability Forum

Energy/Electricity Storage and Use/Grid Connection => Off-Grid, Batteries & Inverters => Topic started by: biffanio on November 23, 2013, 01:36:27 AM



Title: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 23, 2013, 01:36:27 AM
Hello all

I am newbie seeking a little advise if someone would kind enough to help me.

I am hoping to start a very small, off the grid solar power set up.

My aims for this is to provide a very small amount of power to my home and reduce my carbon footprint.

My budget is very small and I fully understand I am going to get a very limited system,  but as money allows I would like to expand.

I would like to add a lot more battery capacity and more panels for better storage and output.

By budget is only about 1000 and I have seen a complete system online.

If anyone would please be kind enough to have a look at the equipment and tell me there thoughts on it I would be eternally grateful!
Spam removed, ::)

Also I would include this interter:

Could I please have any thoughts on the equipment and also would I be able to expand to further batteries and panels easily.?

I am under no illusions that it is a world beater but for my budget would I be getting some value for my buck?

Thank you in eager anticipation.

Neil







Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biff on November 23, 2013, 09:16:52 AM
Good Morning Neil and welcome to the forum,
                        A quick look in the Navitron shop,in the solar PV section will reveal a selection of different priced PV panels to suit the pocket. There are even good quality off grid batteries there as well.
       You should have no trouble buying a kw of PV and an inverter for under 1,000 but the Battery question is the sticky one,Its like,"How long is a piece of string"? question and battery quality again is another "How long is a piece of string"? question again.
  Navitron do very good deals in PV (and batteries) but you are best to do the research on batteries and see what you can come up with yourself. From a personal point of view,I am thinking of joining a therapy group that helps people who buy too many forklift trucks just to use the batteries in them.
  So be mucha mucha carefull when you go near these wonderfull inventions or you could end up addicted like me. :hysteria
                                                                                Biff


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 23, 2013, 11:24:32 AM
Thank you for your reply.

If I also could ask please.

Can you connect any number of panels together?
Do they have to be the same wattage, make ect?

How would you spend 1000 on a system that would have plenty of room for additions, ie batteries, panels ect.

I am doing lots of research on this project but I just want to make sure I start on the right footing.

Many thanks

Neil


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: DaveSnafu on November 23, 2013, 01:52:46 PM
To add more panels is relatively straightforward, as long as they are similar in output.
 Adding more batteries is a no no, sorry to say it but you should lash out on a decent set and stick with them from the word go.
The batteries will take up a large amount of your budget, I would suggest buying a set of used forklift cells, for a few reasons.........
Traction cells are very tolerant of misuse, they are massively built and last a long time, buy 12 of them (24v).

24v systems are well supported, the grid panels available cheap at the moment are very close to battery voltage so you can run a much cheaper type of controller.
Traction cells do not mind being rapidly charged or discharged, and you can use all of it.

There are some very nice batteries on the market...........but for your first set of batteries, (training batteries ?) I would not go overboard.....you will make mistakes.....you will learn from them.....after a few years you will have a good idea on how to keep your batteries in good shape, only then should you blow a lot of dough on some fancy batteries.




Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: martin on November 23, 2013, 02:10:20 PM
Howsabout designing a "starter system" that'll be of real use in the first place, that can be kept way into the future, even when you've got something bigger and better?
I've got something very simple that just "sort of happened" rather than being "designed", but is very useful all the same - prices are now very different on many things, so we were rather restricted on pv panels compared to nowadays (prices have dropped a lot). Mine's 220w of "12v" Yingli pv panels, feeding a 12v battery bank through a Morningstar PWM regulator, and feeding either 12v to "shed" circuits for lighting and entertainment (car radio, amp etc) or 240v through a 300 watt pure sinewave inverter (ample for my glass grinder etc)  -then when we get a power cut (which is fairly often out here in the sticks) I run a long extension lead from the inverter into the property, where I plug in a "5 socket block" that always has the wifi router, computer, "kitchen" tv and a standard lamp attached (normally running off the mains)......It's useful, practical, and won't lose it's usefulness!


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: martin on November 23, 2013, 02:18:59 PM
Just as an example - howsabout 2 of these - http://www.navitron.org.uk/product_detail.php?proID=732&catID=133 (http://www.navitron.org.uk/product_detail.php?proID=732&catID=133) - 320
1 of these http://www.navitron.org.uk/product_detail.php?proID=662&catID=127 (http://www.navitron.org.uk/product_detail.php?proID=662&catID=127) - 70
2 of these http://www.navitron.org.uk/product_detail.php?proID=795&catID=157 (http://www.navitron.org.uk/product_detail.php?proID=795&catID=157) - 550

Which leaves 60 towards one of these http://www.navitron.org.uk/product_detail.php?proID=896&catID=120 (http://www.navitron.org.uk/product_detail.php?proID=896&catID=120) ....... then just add a few more panels when you have the money.............

All quality gear from a reputable company! ;)


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 23, 2013, 02:59:13 PM
Thanks for your assistance guys,it is really appreciated!

I am sure i will be back with more questions soon!

Best wishes

Neil


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 23, 2013, 04:34:29 PM
Hello again,

Can any solar panels be used for an off the grid setup?

The reason i ask is that there is a pv panel subsection on the navitron website named solar pv for battery charging.

Are these the only panels that you can use for off the grid systems?

Sorry for being so confused!

Neil


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: martin on November 23, 2013, 05:08:13 PM
The simple answer is that the ones listed under the "battery" section give a voltage more suited to charging batteries - you can indeed use "any" pv panel, but the regulator/charge controller may well have to be of a lot more complex and expensive type for use with them.....


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 23, 2013, 09:18:53 PM
Good evening all, the pest is back!

I have picked out the items I would like to purchase for my first of the grid solar system.

Could someone kind, with knowledge in this field please comment on my potential purchases please?

I initially has a starting budget of a small 1000 but have gone over (like you do)!

Okay here goes:

2 X rolls batteries 4000 series6v 460 amps.

1 X morning star 45 amp mppt controller.

2 X 245w framed pv panels.

1 X 12v pure sin Inverter 1.5kw.

I would hope you upgrade this system with more pv panels and more batteries within a few months.

Would this system work properly, be affective  and be readily upgradable in the future?

Thank you in advance for any comments.

Thank you

Neil



Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: martin on November 23, 2013, 11:15:45 PM
You'll soon pick up that "it isn't as easy as it looks" - it is generally accepted that it isn't wise to add to an existing battery bank (as they age, their characteristics change, and adding "new" batteries tends to make the whole lot fail).
Generally though, your choices look sensible, the only thing I'd quibble with is the socking great inverter, for which we need to do some sums - at a lowish voltage (12v) the current to drive that thing at anywhere near capacity is utterly colossal (well over 100 amps current) meriting cables as thick as your finger, and it'd kill the batteries stone dead inside 3 hours
(a simple rule of thumb is to never load a battery bank with more than 10% of the batteries capacity)  - a 1.5kw inverter will draw around 30%  - a quick way to kill your batteries (and empty them!) - which is why I would suggest a far lower capacity 350 watt inverter - maximum possible draw around 30 amps -something like 6 or 7%........ The other thing to bear in mind is that the maximum I'd ever want to take from a battery is 50% of it's capacity - so if you have 460 ampere hours to start with, that's a maximum sensible limit of 230 ampere hours draw in a day. You can run many of life's little "essentials" on a smallish inverter, if you want a bigger inverter you need a simply enormous battery bank.
A good motto is "start backwards" and decide what you want to run/is sensible to run from the system.
Then to further complicate matters, your panels will produce roughly 6 times as much power in a day in midsummer than they will in midwinter......... 8)


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 23, 2013, 11:46:16 PM
Thank you ever so much Martin.
You have been an amazing help.
What kind and type of controller would you recommend to work well with these components?

My mistake was thinking that a fairly powerful controller would accept more upgrading.

I am really pleased you are able to pick holes in my choices.

It really is a science and such a balancing act.

Thank you for sharing you knowledge!

Neil


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 23, 2013, 11:48:21 PM
Sorry not controller, the Inverter!


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: martin on November 24, 2013, 12:12:18 AM
I think that I'd stick with a relatively "small" inverter like a 350 watt (or an even smaller one), as you can't effectively "add" to the battery bank once you've got it, and power whatever you can from it (which is a surprising amount)-  if you have a thumping great inverter you're never going to (sensibly) use it "flat out", and the "losses" will be higher than a smaller inverter.(When you go for a larger system you'll probably want to go for 24v or even 48v battery bank and inverter).
About the only sensibly "upgradeable" part of the suggested system would be the solar panels, but even then the old "10%" rule of thumb kicks in - it's not kind to the batteries to charge at much above 10% of the battery bank's capacity - in summer the suggested panels will be chucking out around 40 amps - battery bank 460 ampere hours is a pretty good match........
Some good sums to do would be what you can expect in the way of charge both in midwinter and midsummer, and cut your cake (consumption) accordingly - 500 watts of panels will give very roughly their rating in a day in midwinter (40 ampere hours) - in midsummer, six times that........
SO in midwinter, if you're drawing say 100 watts (call it 10 ampere hours to account for some of the losses), it'll only take 4 hours to take out what you put in (and you need to aim towards the keeping the batteries towards the full end).
Hope that all makes sense - one other thing to chuck into the equations - battery life - an el cheapo battery will quote something like "300 cycles to 50% DOD (depth of discharge)" -  that translates to "if you use half the charge in the battery, it will on average do 300 cycles before knackering out permanently" (which means that el cheapos will last under a year if discharged that deeply) - it's very roughly pro rata, so if you discharge to 20% instead, it should do 750 cycles, or 10%, 1500 cycles................(which is why it pays to design not to discharge too deeply!)
So, to cut a long story short, I'd go for the above system, treat it as your "learner system", let it run your choice of things, and "get the feel" of what it can do -THEN with some experience under your belt, leave the system in place, working for it's living, and go for the big 24/48v system - that way you'll get more of your money's worth...........
Hope that helps - it really does pay to do the sums, and heed the advice, particularly of the "off-gridders" on the forum, they've learned, often the hard and expensive way what works.........




Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 24, 2013, 12:23:23 AM
Or would you say if I added say another 2 batteries of the same spec would that suit the Inverter more?

That would be like a 1840 amps of battery.


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 24, 2013, 12:46:28 AM
If I bought 4 of these batteries Martin would it be OK to run them on the Inverter I wanted as a 12 or 24 volt system?

I did ideally want to draw up to 1.5kw of power.

This would only be used when available and only for 10% of the battery's capacity.

Sorry to be a pain!


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: martin on November 24, 2013, 08:52:32 AM
I wouldn't! It's up to you, but I'd work "at the other end" to reduce consumption first - if you want that large an inverter you really need to go to to 24 or 48 volts, and have a socking great bank (a 1.5kw inverter will draw 125 amps @ 12v), so it would be within the capacity of the batteries at 1840 ampere hours to supply that, but you also have to replenish what you've used with more pv panels, and have a bigger regulator......... If it's not a rude question, what on earth do you think you need such an enormous inverter?(What do you have in  mind running off it?).
I've tried to design a simple system within the budget - by the sound of it you're chomping at the bit for a 5k (or more) system!


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: clockmanFR on November 24, 2013, 08:54:21 AM
Hi biffanio,
1.5kw draw is excessive on your batts.

I am running a 24v 400ah system for 24v lighting in my machine shed and  the Mrs greenhouse that also has underfloor heating.

http://www.navitron.org.uk/forum/index.php/topic,21161.0.html (http://www.navitron.org.uk/forum/index.php/topic,21161.0.html)

The underfloor heating is 200w, which I have added a LVD, low voltage disconnect, which switches of the heating when the batteries get down to 24.50v. and will not switch back on until the batteries reach 25.50.

http://www.reuk.co.uk/wordpress/project-of-the-day-24v-low-voltage-disconnect/ (http://www.reuk.co.uk/wordpress/project-of-the-day-24v-low-voltage-disconnect/)

Its what is charging your batteries that is important. New Mono PV panels give about 10% of their rated output in ambient light, ie when it is dull using a MPPT controller. So INCREASE the NUMBER OF YOUR PANELS as much as possible, especially as they are good prices at present.
 I am now rating my 24v system for worse caser scenario. What i will have is 2kW of panels.

With my big 48v system, 1300ah, I still require another 5kW of panels, I already have 5kW and 3off 3.7m dia Wind turbines, and I get 500w from my present PV on dull days. Yes, I am saving up for an Electric Forklift truck and more 1200ah batteries.

SO PV, PV, PV and more PV.  ;D

  


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 24, 2013, 09:26:00 AM
Thank you for your comments guys.

I can see how building and tweaking these systems could get very addictive, lol.

Hi Martin

The reason I set my heart on a large 1500w Inverter was to open up the amount of appliances I could use as I upgraded my system.

Being set to a tight initial budget I did not take into account the severe battery limits and strains on them.

I think ill stick to 2 batteries of 920 amps and go for a low Inverter then.

Thanks also for your help Clock Manfr!


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: martin on November 24, 2013, 09:31:31 AM
Brilliant! -as many people find out to their cost, it pays not to stint on getting good batteries in the first place (the Rolls batteries really are some of the best), and then doing the sums carefully to make sure they last well.....


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: offthegridandy on November 24, 2013, 09:41:01 AM
Biffanio,

Accepting that you are working to a limited budget and aim to be off grid; as others have said you ideally need to start by considering what both your static/base load will be and also what your expected normal load will be.  Base load = items drawing power 24/7 ie fridge/freezer/inverter/ etc. Normal load = all the things you will switch on and off in the normal course of living ie lights, computer, heating pumps etc.

Find out or calculate the watts that all the items are using, from this you can find out what the minimum size batteries are required.

In my opinion, unless you are living the most frugal life style it is unlikely that you can manage in winter with PV alone. It's likely that you would need a genny to recharge batteries or you will kill them very quickly.  Although Paul and I would say get a Lister, even a small Honda petrol genny can be set up for auto start.  Plus a genny can give you more power if needed for power tools cement mixer etc.

As Martin says you shouldn't charge batteries at a rate higher than 10%, so if you put in 1800A/hr of batteries you would need to charge for perhaps 10 hrs at 180A/hrs to recharge them' and that's over and above any load you have on at the time. This will never be achieved on a small PV array.  So its for sure you'll stuff the batteries.

Earlier this year our hosts had a sale which included some unwarranted PV panels with a nominal 30 V out put around 210W each.  Don't know if they still have any but might be worth an ask.

 It is possible to feed a 24V battery set from 30V panels without regulation, given that the battery size is large enough. You could add a charge controller later when you grow the system and funds allow.  To put this in context I have 2500W of PV capable of producing 80 Amp/hr feeding 24V cells.(1000A/hr).  We are always drawing min 100w per hr and need 7.5Kwhrs per day to run the house. Theoretically I could therefore feed 80 amp an hr to the batteries from the PV with out any regulation and not over charge that batteries.

I don't think you'll achieve what you want for less than 1500 pounds minimum.

Assume SH genny                                        300
Assume cheap Navitron panels 4 X 200W +/-  500
Inverter ??                                                  200
Batteries for 1st year 4 X 450amp 12v
car type to last 1 year only @ 85 each           350
link batteries series and parralel to make
 24V bank at 900amps
Cable, connectors etc                                      50
PV charge controller
Home >> Off-Grid >>  Chargers + Load Controllers >> 30A Provista Charge Controller
PVCCISC3020
30A Provista Charge Controller                       70

Min total  +/-                                              1500

This way most of the kit will stay useable and you know your batteries won't last, but we all kill the first set of battereis due to ignorance and poor maintanance.  As your system grows you can upgrade both inverter and charge controller by putting second unit in in parallel rather than throwing away items. But do consider having a genny!!!!

Hope this helps.

Andy


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 24, 2013, 09:52:53 AM
Thank you Andy.

That does make a lot of sense.

My aim was not to permanently run set appliances off this set up but to rather monitor battery power and run when the power allowed.

My outlook was to create a small amount of power whilst reducing my carbon footprint slightly.

This is where I got confused with the Inverter.

My newbie logic told me that is I got a 1500w Inverter i would only use power as the battery allowed ie fully topped up.

The rest of the time I would use grid power soley.

I hope in not being to much of a pest to you all as I am so enjoying learning and sharing your knowledge and expertise!


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: offthegridandy on November 24, 2013, 09:56:29 AM
Be very careful then.  You will need to isolate your off grid circuits from mains power supply.  If you are on the grid and connected to you off grid system in the event of mains power cut you will be sending 240V up the line and could kill the men trying to restore power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOU must think this through very carefully.  More info required from you please or all our advise will be wrong

Andy


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 24, 2013, 10:01:46 AM
Sorry it's me not explaining myself properly.

I will not be generating any electric on grid.

My generating of electric will be Purley off grid.

I will be relying on my normal electric supply when not using off grid power.


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: martin on November 24, 2013, 10:04:58 AM
I'd go for something simple and "self contained" in this case  - the original system I suggested (or similar) feeeding (for instance) your computer, wifi modem, tv and a light - if you have them all running off a 5 way socket, you can simply unplug it from the inverter, and plug it into the mains when the batteries start to flag........


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: jonesy on November 24, 2013, 01:20:29 PM
Is your aim to reduce your carbon footprint (as originally stated) save money, go off grid, or have a new hobby.  I only ask, as you won't save any money with any sort of battery derived system.  If you're doing it as a hobby, then the money is immaterial, but then your carbon footprint will enlarge, as you are buying environmentally unsound batteries. Think of all the energy required to both make and recycle a battery.  Plus, you can never use all of the energy coming from the panels ie the point at which the batteries are fully charged; so the panels are further enlarging the carbon footprint as their energy is being wasted.
The current standby power in UK is larger than the generating capacity of the new nuclear power station being built.  The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to switch stuff off.  Do you need a clock on the oven and microwave, spare room.  Turn them off, save 30/year with 3 appliances.  If your fridge is over 5 years old change it.  Half my consumption comes from the 90W fridge motor on a A+++ rated fridge.  Look critically at things plugged in.  A PC & monitor 'off' are taking around 5W, same as any appliance you can turn on with a remote control.  Unplug them.  Do you use your router when you are asleep?  Unplug it.
I agree with Martin to stay simple; it'll cost less and it's a good introduction to all the things you don't know; a battery is 80% efficient at start of life; an inverter at best is 90% efficient; panels produce almost nothing when it's cloudy (I've generated 21kWh (~2 if bought) this month (1 day of sun) compared to 121kWh only 3 months ago on a 1.1kW system)
Please be careful; running extension leads around a house is not safe from both a falling over them point and electrical point.  Earth the inverter down and install protection, just as you would for a house.  Just because it's fed off 12V does not make it safe- the 230V out will still kill you, your family or friends in less than a second.
I was off grid for 2 years with a 1000AH/24V battery system whilst waiting for grid connection, and I've now put my panels onto a grid tie.  Wouldn't go back, and I still use the batteries on gloomy days to power the laptop and other 24V gear to save a few , but I should just sell them for scrap.  My annual bill is ~50+ standing charge.
Enjoy your new hobby and we're all here to help and advise; there's a lot of experience to tap into here.
 


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: martin on November 24, 2013, 01:48:41 PM
You make a very valid point - it really does pay to do the "repaying the embodied energy" sums too - often we've had people who for instance want to light a remote lambing shed for a couple of weeks a year, and have with the best intentions been looking at pv/battery systems, - if you take everything into account (especailly needing most electricity in winter's gloom, when pvs are producing bog all), it can often be far more eco friendly to buy and run a small genny, or good old-fashioned "Tilley" lamps..... whistle


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 24, 2013, 02:17:35 PM
Thank you for your advice everyone.

I was honestly under the impression that the off the grid system would pay for its self after maybe 10 years or so.

Also I was on the understanding that the rolls batteries I would be purchasing would last a very long time if properly maintained.

Now I'm starting to question  everything, lol.


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biff on November 24, 2013, 03:39:49 PM
Then maybe you would like to be independant,
                             Design and build your own off-grid system.Perhaps you live way out in the country with no near neighbours or like minded neighbours but there is a certain satisfaction in generating your own electrictiy,especially if the mains is down and your own little plant is dishing out the max possible.  Then you have to sit and study the triangle of volts-amps-watts,learn that higher voltage means lower amps and lighter cables.Study the specs on the panels and work out if they suit your purpose.
          Even building a small off-grid system with a parallel run of 8 sockets can be extremly rewarding as long as you dont abuse your batteries and crock them by draining then down past 12.4volts.You just need to look at what is already up and working among the members and see if it suits your needs.
  Starting off on a small scale will show you what is possible.But the key to success is not wasting any electricity whatso ever and keeping it for when you really need it.That in itself is an education.
                               Biff


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: jonesy on November 24, 2013, 03:44:45 PM
I possibly painted it over black, so for that I apologise.  It depends what you hope to get back out of your 'investment' - independence is a compelling argument as biff says.

My grid tie is most likely not going to pay back, and I can use every drop of production, and I get 10% more sun than you.  The only reason I grid tied was because the panel prices had dropped so much I would get buttons selling used panels.  I wasn't eligible for FITs.  FIT's make solar power pay back.  IIRC cost/kWh for off grid is around 20-25p vs 15p on grid.  I would have been far better off running a small genny for 2 years rather than solar power - as Martin said.  
Mu off grid days were rewarding and I learned a lot, but I prefer grid tie; I never ran out of juice but I came within an estimated 2 days of running out and I had about 10 days storage.

If you plan to live for say 15 years in your current house,  grid tie might work - I've seen on this forum quotes for around 4k for a installed 4kw system.  It's more than your budget, but it may still work with a loan factored in.  


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: spaces on November 24, 2013, 04:45:16 PM
Thank you for your advice everyone.

I was honestly under the impression that the off the grid system would pay for its self after maybe 10 years or so.

Also I was on the understanding that the rolls batteries I would be purchasing would last a very long time if properly maintained.

Now I'm starting to question  everything, lol.

So now you're starting to question everything, you have come further in a few posts than most Westerners will in their entire life! You're starting to learn fast - and don't give up, just because things are more complex than you'd imagined. Collecting and using your own energy is a little like climbing a steep mountain, hard work at first but soon the pleasures of climbing/learning and emerging views/knowledge make it very worthwhile. Once you reach the summit, it's euphoric! Then you search for another mountain.

The off-grid cost is quoted as being a lot higher than grid, correctly, but there are other factors to consider. Once you're off-grid, you'll be very aware of the energy produced and used, so your consumption may fall significantly. It has been noted how drivers of electric cars suddenly start to consider how they drive, in order to conserve energy - even when there's more than enough power in the batteries for a given journey. Education has a beneficial effect in general and being self-taught is one of the finest available.

If you are off-grid, then you aren't at the mercy of grid price rises, which will continue well above inflation for years to come. You're also immune to any disruption in the grid supply. It's well-known that the UK is going to be at breaking point, electricity-wise, over the next few winters. Consider a generator for running the washing machine and other occasional high energy consumers. Refridgeration often requires a bit of thought, but you'll be saving energy and money the more you reduce demand.

Once you've mastered your kilowatts and the like, you may notice how relatively low the demand for energy a well-insulated, well-run house is compared with your average motor car. At which point you'll realise how much sense it makes to do local trips on a bicycle and minimise the time spent accelerating and decelerating in a car. That will lower your carbon footprint massively as well as saving loadsamoney.

As people have already said, reduce your demand then design your system.


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 24, 2013, 06:19:58 PM
Thank you everyone for your kind help.

I am deeply mulling over my options.


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: todthedog on November 24, 2013, 07:37:24 PM
I fall on the site of Jonsey.
If you are already on grid why not buy a few panels, an inverter and reduce your energy consumption that way. Time your consumption for when the sun I shining.
Do you really need batteries?  Unless you intend to live totally off grid, for me invest in more panels.


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 24, 2013, 08:10:09 PM
Hello todthddog.

I currently have no solar system yet.

Me referring to the grid was my newbie Way of meaning reliance on the power companies electricity.

I am still very undecided on which way to go.

What type of costs would be involved to do away with the battery/off grid option and have a on the grid Inverter installed just to get me started.?

Also if I did go down the battery route would adding a wind turbine help with costs against usage.

I really do not want to pay for a system that will never pay for its self eventually.

Many thanks

Neil


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: todthedog on November 24, 2013, 09:03:39 PM
Hi Neil,
To keep costs down at the moment PV offers the best bangs for bucks. In my view.
I will post a couple of navitron links tomorrow so you can work out costs.


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biff on November 24, 2013, 09:32:23 PM
Hello neil,
        "I really do not want to pay for a system that will never pay for itself eventually"
      The present main system is not paying for itself.? Everytime you pay the bill, It,s dead money.GONE.
   However,If you were a canny operator,with the head screwed on,You could install a nice 4kw array on-grid and that will provide free lecky and pay for its self in 7 years,then the rest is free+ profit.??
    Off-gridders like myself,AG, Paul and others just accept it as a way of life.I could have had mains connected to the house,in fact the red mains pipe was laid out to the road but I never even asked for a connection,(1138euros).Its the independence value more than anything else,plus I always wanted to produce my own electricity.It would be a lot lot cheaper for you because the price of the panels has dropped through the floor and PV is really the big one though I have to say the wind turbine does the business in real windy winter weather.
       These are decisions you have to make for yourself but a small parallel system would still be a good idea in case of power failure.
                                                                    Biff


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 24, 2013, 09:54:46 PM
Thanks Biff.

I was just quoting what some comments stated above that in there opinion an off the grid system would never save you money.

Like I said I was hoping that an off the grid system would eventually pay for its self in like 10+ years.

If I do still decide to go for one would it be easy to combine a turbine and a pv system together to power the battery bank?


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: martin on November 24, 2013, 11:02:20 PM
"would it be easy to combine a turbine?"......... hey ho for "Martin destroyer of dreams" to strike again! Realistically, wind turbines are non-starters for over 99% of UK homes - if you're in a built-up area it's a total nono (in simple terms, the turbulence induced by buildings kills the performance stone dead) - even in the sticks it's still difficult!
Sadly, the Windsave debacle of a few years ago gave the false impression that roof-mounted turbines were a good idea - it was a heartless and ignorant con!


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biff on November 24, 2013, 11:07:39 PM
Hi Neil,
       For the time being,i would spend my time and money sorting out the PV side of things.Later on,If you have the site then a wind turbine would certainly be of benifit.However,you need the right site.NO WIND<<NO GO.
                                                         Biff


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: clockmanFR on November 25, 2013, 07:38:15 AM
Martin, This thread and its title, "Please help a newbie out." Is what this Forum is all about.

Do you think this thread can be made prominent on this forum.?

The questions being asked are what most ordinary folk, no offence biffanio, who have green aspirations and want to do their best. I am constantly asked about going green, power generation, costs, commitment, how to etc.

It would be cracking if I could point them directly at an all rounded discussion source that is on The Navitron Forum. 


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: todthedog on November 25, 2013, 07:56:32 AM
Hello Neil
I would say Biffs post about 3 back has hit the nail firmly on the head. The choice of course is yours, as Biff as said a battery system would give you some backup in case of a power cut, but realistically how often are you without the grid.  You could certainly get more for your money without the expense of batteries. 
For a dual system see Clockmans posts.
I would suggest a call to the Navitron main site for a chat, their prices are pretty good and the folk on the phone knowledgeable and not pushy. They can advise on best value for your budget. Also they are a solid company and not going to disappear unlike some others. 


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: clockmanFR on November 25, 2013, 07:58:16 AM
I have to agree with Jonesy, "I've now put my panels onto a grid tie.  Wouldn't go back,"

We have not got true data yet, but I reckon that here we loose about 1/3rd of our power generation using battery storage, inverters, maintenance factors etc.

So Yes, Grid tied is far more efficient to use your generated electricity for your surrounding community as far as your local transformer I think, just 2 small farms and 2 dwellings, (Jonesy will put me right).

Unfourtuenetly, there are downsides to Grid tie, which have been discussed elsewhere on this forum, and for us dealing with our local supplier, EDF Normandy, is a nightmare.

Pic...Yesterday, EDF lines folk following their cables, at just about zero height, looking if any trees need lopping. They do it every year. Chickens, cows, sheep all calmed down now.


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: todthedog on November 25, 2013, 08:16:59 AM
This link will help estimate your production

http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvgis/apps4/pvest.php

Most of us just use a car CM,  :genuflect :genuflect :genuflect



Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: clockmanFR on November 25, 2013, 08:20:04 AM
Tod, Here we loose grid about once a week now. From just a few minutes to several days, on average about 2 hours a month.

Sorry to say, over the past 10 years its getting expedientialy worse. Everyone here in our village has standby generators, mostly for the fridge and freezers.

Our snail man down the road, lost 20,000 snails, they did a bunk in a 2 hour power cut, when the electric fence was off. Yep he's got a genny now.

I have no choice for Mrs CM, as she is global with her work, and requires both satellite links working continually for her work, conferencing etc, so she is always on our own inverter supply. Our whole house lights are always on our own supply, as well as necessary circuits.

First pic, is Mrs CM power supply.

I also use good quality changeover switches at the main distributor box, got loads more to install.



Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biff on November 25, 2013, 09:50:38 AM
Just to keep everything in perspective, ;D
                           No wind today,cloudy and overcast,Our bank showed a voltage of 123vdc and I know there will be enough solar coming in to restore its good health but not enough to run the house.This is the third day of no wind.We did have good solar but I used that up on the drills and grinder in "Der Shed"so now I will have to start the geni today.I will have to pull the weeds and dead overgrowth away from around it and clear the exhaust.I will be amazed if the battery is not flat.It must be 5 months since it was last used and then only for a couple of hours to run the washing machine and keep its battery spruced up.I am not short of lecky :hysteria,there is still the pv 1kw x 48volt system sitting with a full tank which can be rerouted to the house if the need be.
 I think C/M has a very good point.This might be a nice thread to point Newbies to when they are starting off. Off-grid can be very very good but there will come times when you have to start the geni.To be fair,I should be using the geni to do all the drilling and grinding but I hate the noise.I even run the cement mixer of the solar and have done for years.Then I look back and remember all the different trials and errors.(not that many).But feelgood factor is massive and very rewarding.
                             Biff


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: jonesy on November 25, 2013, 11:41:36 AM
Martin may be the killer of dreams but Biff is of nostalgia.  I remember re-configuring my 24V bank to get 96V so I could run the washing machine/power tools off the 3kVA inverter so I didnt have to run the genny, as I hated the noise.  Sigh.  Happy days, when it used to take all morning to configure the inverter, run the washing machine and reconfigure.  I didnt do it long, mind, and soon was running both 24V/1000AH for main battery/1kVA inverter and 96V/50AH for the 3kVA inverter.  If I was serious about solar off grid now I'd have a nominal 120V and ditch the inverter; most consumer goods operate off DC or AC.  That would bring the efficiency up a lot and no waste from a running the inverter (I ran my lights like that at 200VDC anyway).  Problem is the protection as only a few MCBs will safely break DC.
I think it'd be a good idea for a permanent thread too.
BTW, CM, you haven't blown me out of the water for the incorrect unit price I quoted.  I said abut 10p/unit, but as I use so little, the standing charge is about the same, so it works out at around 22p/unit (thanks for depressing me CM).  At that price off grid generation is achievable, BUT you have to cut the grid connection otherwise you're still paying standing charge.  The other benefit of off grid solar is that you are protecting yourself against future price rises.  However, over a 2 year period off grid I reckon that I spent at least 1 hour per week tinkering.  Plus you have equipment failure to deal with - I had two inverters go bang, one was pilot error, the other, who knows - all branded gear - no chinese no-name.  I had fully intended to stay off grid, but the clincher for me, finally, was that I was the only person that understood my system.  If I wasn't around for any reason and the lights went out, the family was in deep doodoo.  With a grid connection there is a phone book full of people who can repair it immediately.  My grid connection was about 2k, including a 80m run of 25mm2 feeder, meters, etc - about the price of a good battery pack, but with an infinite life!
It used to be a lot easier to make decisions; now everyone has an opinion.
All biffanio wanted was some advice..where's the 'thread delete button'


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: biffanio on November 25, 2013, 02:21:00 PM
Thank you again everyone for your recent posts.

I have going to probably persevere with the small off grid system and will update the thread shortly to see if it is viable.

All this information you kind people have supplied has been so valuable to my understanding in such a short space of time.

I will keep on learning and researching!

Best wishes

Neil


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: spaces on November 25, 2013, 08:27:55 PM
jonesy, you mention your meagre use of grid electricity being made very costly with standing charges. Check out https://www.ebico.org.uk/ (https://www.ebico.org.uk/)


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: clockmanFR on November 25, 2013, 09:37:43 PM
Spaces, Jonesy lives in France, the warm bit.  :hysteria :hysteria

Its a State monopoly here with EDF.

 I pay 520 euro's a year for the privillage of Grid.  svengo

In the UK we are with Ebico.


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: jonesy on November 27, 2013, 02:01:42 PM
Thanks for the link Spaces.
We do have a choice of supplier CM.  We can have EDF (state controlled price - what a quaint idea) or a private supplier - IIRC I have a choice of 3.  All 3 are more expensive than EDF last time I looked.  So how do they stay in business? Must have a very aggressive sales department.


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: todthedog on November 28, 2013, 04:56:52 PM
Same here Jonsey,  let's go private and pay more than the state monopoly.
When I last looked I thought I was reading it wrong banghead:


Title: Re: Please help a newbie out.
Post by: readiescards on November 24, 2015, 09:07:42 PM
Have to say, as noobie also wondering about being off-grid - this discussion was very useful. ta