What exactly is an off grid solar system?
Off Grid Solar Systems are not linked to the power grid. Instead, they allow owners to own their power and forget about utility bills. Off Grid Solar Systems include the following components:
- Panels for solar energy
- Batteries 12V, 24V, or 48V (Our preference is Lithium Batteries)
- Off Grid Inverter 12V, 24V, or 48V, such as a Victron Energy Multiplus or Schneider Electric SW Pro
- DC solar charge controllers provide a regulated charge to the solar.
- System monitoring and remote configuration software (Victron Cerbo or Schneider Insight)
- Before installation, the prewired board has already been configured/programmed.
- Generator as an option for backup power. Having an Off Grid Generator for your system saves you thousands of dollars because you can have one day of battery autonomy/backup instead of the three days that AHLEC Solar recommends if you don’t have a generator.
Off grid systems may appear frightening, but they are actually low-maintenance and simple to use. Australians from all over the country tell us that their system works as if they were off the grid. That is our goal when designing an Off Grid system.
What is the Process of Off Grid Solar?
- Beginning with the Sun, sunlight strikes the panels, creating an electric field that passes through your charge controller to charge your batteries or power your appliances.
- When your battery bank is fully charged (100%), solar electricity flows through the inverter charger and powers your household appliances.
- When your battery bank is less than full, solar electricity passes through the charge controller of the system and charges your batteries, resulting in power that can be used now or later.
- When you use an appliance, DC power from the DC battery bank passes through the inverter charger and is converted into 240V power, which is used to power your 240V loads/appliances.
- A premium off grid diesel generator is an excellent backup power source because it provides energy security on a string of cloudy days during the cooler months of the year.
How do I calculate the cost of an off grid solar system?
Before selecting a solar system, it is critical that you or an Off Grid Solar Specialist complete an appliance load profile/calculation. You’re guessing without it.
It’s the same as driving a car while blindfolded.
You can begin the calculations yourself to determine two important figures:
Expected Consumption (kW) Potential Load (Average kWh per day)
The Potential Load is the amount of power you’d use if you turned on every appliance at once when they’re all running at full surge capacity. Sizing your inverter necessitates human interpretation of your potential load, which we accomplish by speaking with you about your system. Whereas the Expected Consumption determines how much power you will use each day and confirms how much solar and battery storage you will require.
Following completion of an Off Grid Calculation, one of Commodore’s Off Grid designers will design a solar panel system using either satellite imagery to ensure the required number of panels will fit on your roof while taking into account the maximum voltage on DC Charge Controllers and AC Inverters. If the shed/structure has not yet been built and is not visible on satellite imagery, Commodore’s Off Grid designers will request the dimensions of your panel area as well as a photo of the structure to ensure it is suitable.
If the solar panels fit perfectly, we’re in luck! Our design is complete. Don’t worry if they don’t fit on the desired structure. We can add ground mounts to the system.
Cost of an Off Grid Solar System
The cost of an off grid solar system is determined by the required capacity of the system as determined by the system design calculation.
Generators for use off grid
Off Grid Generators must be treated differently than regular generators. This is due to the fact that they have numerous key features that make Off Grid Living so much easier, including but not limited to:
Two-wire auto start makes going off the grid a breeze. Two-wire auto start ensures that the generator turns on when the charge level of your batteries drops.
Low RPMs. If you’re serious about going Off Grid, you’ll need low RPMs. Some 3-cylinder Diesel Water-cooled generators, such as the Commodore’s 9KVA, run at 1500rpm rather than 3000rpm, as do many generators on the market with only two cylinders. This means that the motor has to work half as hard to produce the same amount of power, which reduces noise, vibration, and motor wear and tear. Significantly increasing longevity.
Air-cooled and water-cooled off grid generators are available. Smaller systems benefit from air-cooled generators. They are less expensive, but they can only run for a maximum of 6 hours.
Water-cooled generators are more expensive, but they have the grunt and strength to power heavy loads/appliances.
There is no time limit on how long a water-cooled generator can run continuously. This is extremely useful if you have an off grid solar system. It’s similar to having an insurance policy. If one component in your off grid system needs to be replaced in 15 years, you can run your house for a week straight off a water-cooled generator while you wait for that one component to be replaced. If this happens on Christmas, you’ll be grateful for the available power while you wait for the part to be replaced.
Installation is available throughout Australia!
Commodore’s Pre Wired-Boards make off grid installation a breeze. However, we recommend that you use a CEC Off Grid Accredited Installer in order to take advantage of the Australian Government’s financial incentives available through the Clean Energy Regulator’s Small-scale technology certificate scheme.
AHLEC Solar collaborates with over 100 Off Grid installers across the country, so we’re likely to know an accredited CEC installer near you. Our off grid solar systems have been installed from Perth to Hobart and everywhere in between.
Why should you go with a CEC Approved Retailer?
Displaying the CEC Approved Retailer logo serves a purpose other than aesthetics. It reassures customers in more ways than one:
- As a CEC Retailer, we guarantee the workmanship on our Pre-Wired Off Grid Boards for at least 5 years. You are not required to provide this guarantee if you are not a CEC retailer.
- The CEC examined our organization to ensure that we were genuine and met the Council’s high standards. By selecting a CEC Approved Retailer, you can be confident that you are not dealing with a one-hit-wonder that changes names every two years. Instead, they are a reputable brand that is dedicated to assisting its customers.
To get right to the point, hiring a qualified and certified company like AHLEC Solar is critical.
Small-Scale Off Grid Systems
Overview: Small off grid solar systems are ideal for caravans, cabins, units, sheds, or any other situation where a small amount of power is required. Our most popular system in this category is our Ultimate Budget Off Grid System, which provides power for basic necessities like the kettle, toaster, TV, and lights.
Off Grid Medium/Large Systems
Overview: Medium/Large off grid solar systems are designed for Australian homes and, for the most part, have enough solar to power your home. Our most popular system in this category is our With Generator Off Grid System, which provides users with enough power to run basic appliances as well as an air conditioner and some power tools. As the name implies, it also includes a Premium Off Grid Generator, which provides users with energy security during the winter, which is a great comfort.
Overview of Commercial Off Grid Solar Systems: Commercial off grid solar systems are suitable for factories, farms, large households, and everything in between. There are single-phase and three-phase options available, and the system, like all of our off grid systems, can be fully customized to suit your kilowatt usage and requirements. Our Portable Off Grid Power Station is our most popular system in this category; it’s ideal for builders, mining companies, and anyone else who needs large-scale portable power.
Options for Off Grid Batteries
For many years, lead-acid batteries were the most popular choice for off grid systems. They have proven to be effective in Australian conditions and have a long life if not discharged low on a regular basis. Unlike lithium, they can be discharged to 0%, but this is harmful to the batteries.
- Time-tested and proven
- Excellent for weekenders/cabins where the batteries are not frequently discharged.
- Cost savings
- Heavy and difficult to move
- In a few years, it will be difficult to expand onto the system.
- Typically has a shorter warranty period than lithium.
When comparing price/discharge cycles, AHLEC Solar has long cited lead carbon as a midpoint between lead acid and lithium. Lead carbon battery banks offer the most bang for your buck.
- A high cycle life has been demonstrated.
- Low cost in comparison to lithium
- Excellent for weekenders/cabins where the batteries are not frequently discharged.
Heavy and difficult to move
In a few years, it will be difficult to expand onto the system.
Lithium has a shorter warranty period.
Batteries made of lithium-ion
While lithium batteries are the most recent to the market, they are undoubtedly the most exciting due to their low cost of ownership. Consider our Pylontech batteries, which have an exceptional cost of ownership of around 15 cents per kWh, which is fantastic when compared to mains ranges of 22/28 cents per kWh.
- 99% efficiency + high discharge cycles Pylontech US3000 has a range of 10000 to 50%.
- Are much lighter – most 3-3.55kWh modules weigh only 40kg.
- Most have a massive 10-year warranty.
- Higher initial investment
- Establish a discharge cut-off point (which is positive and negative in some ways as it preserves the life of your battery)
- Older inverters may not work with the new modules.
How do I grow an off grid solar system?
The three main components of an Off Grid Solar Kit are as follows:
- Charger Inverter
If you use Lithium Batteries, you can expand an Off Grid System as much as you want without sacrificing performance. With Victron Energy’s Inverter Chargers (both Multiplus and Quattro models), you can add one, two, or three more Inverter Chargers to your system by connecting them in parallel. This is useful to know in case your power requirements change in the future.
Solar is also simple to integrate into an off grid system. You can add more panels by adding another MPPT charge controller (+ relevant breakers/fuses) as long as you have available space on your roof or ground mount Solar.
Finally, Lithium Battery technology enables you to expand the capacity of your modular battery bank without sacrificing performance. Older Lead Acid Battery technology does not allow you to add to your battery bank after a few years without reducing the cycle life of the new batteries. This is one of the primary reasons AHLEC Solar supports lithium batteries.
Off Grid Systems with Complete Customization
Because everyone’s electrical load (kW usage) differs, customization is essential in an off grid system. We have a variety of stand-alone solar systems designed for tasks such as powering a:
- Industrial and commercial operation
- Tiny House
- Medium House
- Large House
AHLEC Solar also has customisable solar systems that allow you to tweak your inverter, battery banks, and the number of solar panels to suit your budget. Because many of our lithium systems are expandable, you are not limited by your starting system. Importantly, our customisable systems allow us to tailor a system to your specific needs. We see fantastic results for our valued customers as a result of this commitment to customization.