So the new panels went up. Its only a day so far but it's amazing... I think there should be a basic rule book for people trying to dabble in solar for the first time (kinda like my lessons learned but just trying to do things the right way?)
So here are KLEVA's rules so far:
- Unless you are completely off-grid, don't think that a hybrid type system is going to save you money! A generic hybrid like the Axpert is only going to act like a UPS. Save your money and start looking at an on-grid system. You don't have to feed back to the Grid, but you want to get best use of your panels.
- Batteries - What I have learned so far is that there are only 2 cheap (big inverted commas on the word cheap) options. Trojans are still the best option, but they are small, very powerful and can be costly. You also have to keep up maintenance on them. Alternative is to get very high power AGM type cells... Please avoid the generic deep cycle cells advertised by most providers and/or battery suppliers. They really are not suited for proper solar use. Batteries are your biggest expense on a solar system (no matter how you count, trust me that this is you biggest and most important purchase). You can have the best solar system in the world, but if you don't have a place to store the power for when you need it later, then you have lost the plot.
- Panels - Always get more than you think you need, but don't go overboard. If your invertor needs series string then it's easy... If you think you need 6, buy 8... Panels are actually the cheapest part of your entire purchase (even though it feels not at R2k/each sometimes). It is incredibly tricky to add panels later when you need then (there are so many specs to match sometimes that you might just have to replace). Batteries are almost just as tricky. Parallel strings need a bit more thought but the same principle applies, even if you leave one or 2 panels in your shed/storage... If you ever change your invertor or something else in your system changes, then you are really going to want those extra panels.
- ASK FOR HELP - No matter how brilliant you think you are at connecting all of this together... Mistakes will happen, and when you are dealing with 12/48V power that can be easily or accidentally short circuited. You can even just get a friend who knows a bit about DC power, but rather someone who has experience with solar/DC power. I cannot tell you how many times I (as a qualified electrician) have screwed up connections on DC. When you are dealing with 100Ah+ power it's amazing how quickly you can melt a spanner by accidentally short circuiting a connection...
Lastly, this forum an it's people are amazing. We have all made mistakes, we have all learned. The above rules/thoughts are mine, and I am sure that 1 or 2 might disagree. But this is the point of this forum and Blog. These are MY lessons and what I have gained from my solar experience. They don't have to be yours, but I urge you to at least take stock of my messages if this is your first foray into solar.
New batteries will follow in my next episode, as soon as my budget allows.