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Recommendations for Basic system for complex guard house


AlexTZA
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Hi all,

I've been looking into a basic backup system for my complex guard house to power LED lights, gates, cameras, energizers for the electric fence, and some dedicated plugs. Total peak power that I measured was around 300W when turning the mains breaker on (lights are on day/night switches that toggle on briefly on power on of course), around 150 W steady state during the day.

There are two main options at the moment - I've been looking at something like the Victron Multiplus-24-800 or a Growatt SPF3000TL-24. We'd like the option to add solar later, but given the configuration of the guard house roof, the MPPT startup voltage will have to be low, as we're only going to be able to add about 500/600W of solar (1/2 panels). Was looking at using one Hubble AM-4 24V lithium battery to start which should give a decent amount of backup run time. Trying to keep things budget friendly while not compromising on the essentials, make sure the solution lasts many years and avoid me having to fix issues late at night!

So, due to my lack of experience in using the Victron stuff, which I'd prefer to use in this case, because it has a reputation to be designed to last, can I connect the Victron to the Hubble without a GX device and just use voltage/charge set points for the battery? Not ideal I realise, but given the lack of large peak loads in this situation, seems like I could get away without BMS comms? Any other suggestions, ideas would also be welcome.

Thanks!

 

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The planning for the use of a Victron device for longevity is a good choice. However, you pay for that quality. That inverter will cost you. The Victron also heavily relies on things being able to talk to each other otherwise it just won't work well or as intended & then the other set of toys to all this can be also quite expensive. The monitoring equipment etc.

Another potential pit fall that I have recognised here is that you mention "some dedicated plugs". My experience with "some dedicated plugs" in a setup like this for some clients is the following: 

If the plug is available, it will be used and abused. Especially in a guard house or to be honest anywhere even in your own home. You need to plan for that abuse to the value of the highest level of abuse. So plan for a heater at 3000W or for a Kettle at 3000W. If you do not do this you are planning to have the system fail & collapse. Then you will have to come out in the middle of the night.

The quality levels in the sub 48V systems is sketchy. So plan on a 48V system as a bench mark. There are other options especially with the Axpert type of inverters that can do this type of job especially with light loads as your requirements demand & can handle these peak loads without issue. With the money you would have spent in the Victron setup you can even network the Axpert & enable remote monitoring through a Raspberry Pi3 and Run Solar Assistant as a logger for data purposes to report back to the Directors of the HOA. 

Lastly, the Axpert could run very happily with USER settings of min Voltage & Max Voltage etc. The settings for these are important to get correct the first time & also This system can be installed in an electrical metal enclosure to prevent tampering. 

If you would like to proceed down this route or even need assistance with the above setup just shout. I have such systems happily running without fault. Including my own home. 

87

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HI 87 Dream,

Thank you for the info and input -  points taken. I have some additional points/questions for you:

- It seems Growatt is based on an Axpert design - maybe I'm wrong, but the menus and feature sets seem pretty similar in many respects. I do like the optiona/ability to monitor the Growatt's via the web though. Again, the reason for looking at the 24V version is because of the low MPPT voltage which would be a necessity if solar is going to be part of the equation. However, a 48V system with a 60V start voltage, like a King inverter would potentially work, but I will need to check the physical space for at least two panels first to be sure. Otherwise, the other option is to simply rule out solar and then use any 48V inverter, but the OCD in me keeps me searching for a solution :)

- Are you saying keep away from 24V system from the quality of the inverter's, including Voltronic ones, at that end of the spectrum, e.g. a Kodak OffGrid 1.5Kw 1.24. It seems like the lowest end 48V inverter would be something like the VMIII 5kw 48V inverter? Do you have any particular recommendations?

- I would actually prefer to use a Kodak inverter if going with the Axpert-type solution as I know the parts/spares are readily available, unless you can school me otherwise with regards to the other Axpert or Growatt brands.

- As for the dedicated plugs, that is a concern for me as well. The idea was to convert one specific standard sockes to the red dedicated type along with the requisite plugs to at least make it more difficult to plug any old device in. But of course, anything can be worked around. We have had guards removed for lesser evils than tampering with electrics.

- How old is the oldest Axpert-type setup you have done/seen that is still running without issues?

 

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Hi again Alex, the Growatts from what I here are based on the Axperts but I really can't be sure neither can I speak for their quality except a few guys on here that have these systems running. 

Yes I am saying stay away if you can from the 24V systems due to quality issues & because today you are powering a small load, in the future those loads might grow & also the capacity is always there readily available. Running a engine at low revs usually means longer life & in the inverter world the analogy is the same. Running a 5kW inverter at +-700w or even your peaks as measured at 400W is sure to make the 5kW inverter last a long time. 

The Kodak parts are Axpert parts & are made by Voltronics. Voltronics is the OEM & Kodak is an Axpert Voltronics Machine with a Kodak badge & branding on it. I know of a repair centre that is Gauteng based & these parts are also readily available or an Axpert can also be repaired by Kodak as the machines are the same on the inside. 

The King would be a perfect application as it's MPPT startup voltage is at 60V which would mean 2 panels. Ideally if you had more than 2 panels this would make for better charging of the batteries. The VMiii has the higher charge controller & these models are sought after because they can use energy directly from the panels without ever a battery attached. 

You options are quite broad. You can install the higher voltage machine with a decent Lithium battery 🔋 Charge only from the grid until you have the funds & raise the funds for the panels and mounts. This is a glorified silent Generator. Grid charging only. Or you can add the Panels & add a battery later. This dual option is only available to the 450V higher Solar Charge Controller models. The VMIII is an example, as is the MKS2 & MKS3. 

Then you can plan where to put 4 panels to get the Solar part done. 

On the subject of Monitoring, you can add a Raspberry Pi 3 to this setup & get some very useful data from Solar Assistant & it doubles up as an Inverter remote access controller. So you can check the status of the inverter from your home. No need to come out at night. The Pi with the Solar Assistant microSD card & Pi3 will set you back R2.8K but a system that pays for itself. You can view this as well as the other directors via a web portal & show its usage & payback or ROI.

I have a MKSii inverter that I have used in my personal home for the last 4 yrs & it has not skipped a beat & it has been thro hell & back as well as stood up to the abuse of my family. It's still provides 5kW of energy when called upon. I want to upgrade & hope it can give up but everyday it just keeps ticking over. 

A word on buying, there is a massive second hand market for said equipment & there is much value to be gained. I have another MKSll for sale as well at +-R5K and there are batteries Available on the forum classifieds. The LBSA 6.1kW & the BSL batteries that I have seen for sale provided after a thorough inspection can be really amazing value purchases. 

Now there are many ways to proceed into this Solar journey but I would say that if quality can be bought at a good price does is matter if the said equipment is new or not? Do you care if your meter is brand new or that it provides energy? The most important aspect is Production & trouble free Production. The main important thing is to buy right (quality) & to get someone to install this equipment properly, safely & to maintain it for you. In other words not just a set & run installer. I would suggest also putting this in a tamper proof enclosure. This will make sure nobody messes around with it or alternatively a tamper proof cover on the main display can be fabricated out of steel & perspex. 

You have many options to ponder 😅😁

87

 

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@AlexTZA If you only need this systems to provide power during loadshedding, you might not need solar panels at all. Just an inverter and battery should be sufficient. What are trying to achieve by adding the solar panels? Rather use the budget for the panels, towards good inverter and battery. There is nothing wrong with 3Kw, 24V system for your requirements, as the power demand for the guard house should not raise.

Edited by PowerUser
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