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Paarl Solar Installation: I need your help please


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Hi forum, 

INTRO:

Long time lurker, been soaking up the wisdom for a while now. I made the decision to go Solar. Based in Paarl, WC. 

HOUSE:

Family of 6, 4 kids 8 years and under. All lights are LED, major appliances incl. gas hob with electric oven, 2 x 3kw 150L geysers, 1 x 24000BTU, 1 x 18000BTU and 1 x 12000BTU non-inverter A/C's, 1 x 750W Pool pump, 1 x fridge/freezer (energy efficient), 1 x large box freezer. We have a domestic on weekdays, so all washing, cleaning, ironing, etc. can occur during the day. Wife WFH. Our average electrical consumption for the past 18 months is 822 units/Kwh, fairly conscience about usage, June-August is a fair bit higher due to heaters/etc. But working on reducing this. 

PROPOSED SYSTEM:

8KW Sunsynk Hybrid inverter, 10kw Batteries (to be scaled in future), 12-14 +-545W panels. No desire to go fully off-grid, but I obviously want to be as independent as possible. I have a North facing roof (0-degree Azimuth I have been told), and +-20% pitch (if my building plans are anything to go by). Would like to future-proof the system, i.e. be able to expand panels and battery capacity as budget allows. Hopefully put everything on the essentials side, with a bit of smart planning/automations sure this would be possible? 

ASK:

I have received 4 x quotes, all within R224K - R243K. I have also (today) contacted the Powerforum Store to have a look at purchasing the materials directly and getting someone reputable to do the installation. I am pretty settled on the Sunsynk inverter, but as for batteries, I have been going in circles. Initially thought Hubble AM2 5kw as I could get them at a very good price, but the more I read the more I felt uneasy about using them, I know there must be 100s (maybe 1000s) of super happy clients, but there seem to be a lot of unhappy clients out there as well???

So my ask is, what else do I look at? Pylon UP5000's look pretty good? Is it worth paying the premium for the Sunsynk battery to get the extended warranty? Greenrich? HELP, please.

If there are any flaws in my thinking please point these out to me...I will proceed as soon as the Power Forum store can assist with a quote for the material to compare the two options. 

I look forward to any, and all feedback. 

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I think your general thinking is sound and well thought out. Batteries are whole other rabbit hole on their own. As you say, there are Hubble AM2 users who have had no or little issues. What about the AM5?

Benefit of the Hubbles  and Greenrich is that they are not limited on discharge, unlike the Pylontech and Dyness. This is more ciritcal in loadshedding though so you may need to be hawk-like in those situations if you get a Pylon/Dyness vs say a Hubble/Greerich

 

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With 2 of the pylontechs you will only be able to service 5kw at any one time. They are 0.5C batteries, but by many measures they are very good. 

The Hubble, the Sunsynk and many others are 1C, meaning for 10kWh of battery you can draw up to 10kW. You have more headroom. With such a battery, your 8kW inverter becomes the bottleneck. 

You can get by with 5kW, but not with geysers on the essential side, and you will have to control the use of kettles, microwaves & such. I have 4.6kW, but only 2 people, and we do OK. 

If you think the 5kW limit won't be a problem, then go for the Pylontechs. 

I would recommend that initially you do not back up the geysers, poll and stove. They will draw a lot from the battery, and they'll push you close to the limit. If both geysers are on at the same time, that's 6 of the 8kW.

Then watch the system a lot. See what loads happen when and how high your total load is. If you have enough headroom then maybe move one of those to the essential side. Downgrading the geyser elements and running them on timers will help. Timers are handy for controlling what runs when. 

Get surge protection installed to protect the inverter. Get lightning protection on the lines from the panels. These two items are irrespective of brand. 

Get an updated COC and have a chat with your insurance broker. 

Edited by Bobster.
Pushed the button too soon.
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Your loads are big, in particular those aircons so keep them along with geysers, oven, pool as non-essential loads. With those off during load shedding and some discipline, your 8kW inverter and 10 KW of battery should be fine. Have you thought about the Sunsynk batteries which in conjunction with the inverter will extend your inverter warranty to 10 years.

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51 minutes ago, mzezman said:

I think your general thinking is sound and well thought out. Batteries are whole other rabbit hole on their own. As you say, there are Hubble AM2 users who have had no or little issues. What about the AM5?

Benefit of the Hubbles  and Greenrich is that they are not limited on discharge, unlike the Pylontech and Dyness. This is more ciritcal in loadshedding though so you may need to be hawk-like in those situations if you get a Pylon/Dyness vs say a Hubble/Greerich

 

Thank you Mzezman! No particular reason for not having a look at the AM5/10's, see they are LiFePO4, so perhaps they are worth a look...I agree with the 1C vs 0.5C discharge. Will factor this into my equation. 

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35 minutes ago, Bobster. said:

With 2 of the pylontechs you will only be able to service 5kw at any one time. They are 0.5C batteries, but by many measures they are very good. 

The Hubble, the Sunsynk and many others are 1C, meaning for 10kWh of battery you can draw up to 10kW. You have more headroom. With such a battery, your 8kW inverter becomes the bottleneck. 

You can get by with 5kW, but not with geysers on the essential side, and you will have to control the use of kettles, microwaves & such. I have 4.6kW, but only 2 people, and we do OK. 

If you think the 5kW limit won't be a problem, then go for the Pylontechs. 

I would recommend that initially you do not back up the geysers, poll and stove. They will draw a lot from the battery, and they'll push you close to the limit. If both geysers are on at the same time, that's 6 of the 8kW.

Then watch the system a lot. See what loads happen when and how high your total load is. If you have enough headroom then maybe move one of those to the essential side. Downgrading the geyser elements and running them on timers will help. Timers are handy for controlling what runs when. 

Get surge protection installed to protect the inverter. Get lightning protection on the lines from the panels. These two items are irrespective of brand. 

Get an updated COC and have a chat with your insurance broker. 

Thanks Bobster! Very valid points. 5kw will definately become an issue when domestic is here and washing/ironing/etc. is happening.

My second geyser serves the guest bathroom and one of one of my kids' bathroom. Has probably only been on for 10-15 days in the past year when we have guest sleeping over. But would like to able (through some management) to get it up to temperature when the PV production allows me to do so. If not, keep it off on low PV days and have kids shower in other bathroom. 

Again, valid input and I will look at not having everything on Essential side, maybe 1 x geyser, pool pump and stove off of essentials. We mostly use the 24000 BTU AC, so maybe only have that one on essential, rest off? 

COC, surge and lightning protection is a definite, although we don't see much lightning this side, I have hear some scary stories. 

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25 minutes ago, Peter V said:

Your loads are big, in particular those aircons so keep them along with geysers, oven, pool as non-essential loads. With those off during load shedding and some discipline, your 8kW inverter and 10 KW of battery should be fine. Have you thought about the Sunsynk batteries which in conjunction with the inverter will extend your inverter warranty to 10 years.

Thanks Peter. Loads are big, but we try to be very aware of usage. I would like to have some automation built into the system where, for example. pool pump only gets run when PV production exceeds usage by enough to run the pump of PV. 

I have thought about going the Sunsyk battery route, I would like to go that way, just have not seen many reviews/user feedback about them. Also quite like the feedback on the Greenrich WM5000?

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Hi Richard, where will inverter be installed? If noise might be an irritant, consider a silent inverter. Noise down the passage did not bother me, but did irritate my wife. Changed to silent inverter, and will install silent as standard in future. Was taken to task for saying that I read they use better components and have longer lifespan. Poster reckoned they run hotter and will fail sooner. Beg to differ, they do cost a little more, but have huge heat dissipater aluminium fins and can afford using higher spec components and design to keep cool. Eventually a fan will fail....

You did mention future-proofing. Why then not 2 x 5 kW inverters in parallel? Costs not much more than one 8kW and gives redundancy. A Sunsynk 5kW model is available fanless, as are many Solis models.

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1 hour ago, Peter V said:

Your loads are big, in particular those aircons so keep them along with geysers, oven, pool as non-essential loads. With those off during load shedding and some discipline, your 8kW inverter and 10 KW of battery should be fine. Have you thought about the Sunsynk batteries which in conjunction with the inverter will extend your inverter warranty to 10 years.

I have a contrarian viewpoint ... It would be a terrible waste to have 8kW available from the roof on a sweltering Paarl summer's day (I know - I grew up there!) but the batteries are fully charged so output is choked to zero. What would it be worth to be able to run your a/c for free then? I say put everything on essential but be aware of what you use when, and automate some things (geysers) with timers.  My brother-in-law in Courtrai did an install in January and from what I heard they are happy (they also put everything on essential on my suggestion). I can ask who they used.

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3 minutes ago, Scubadude said:

I have a contrarian viewpoint ... It would be a terrible waste to have 8kW available from the roof on a sweltering Paarl summer's day (I know - I grew up there!) but the batteries are fully charged so output is choked to zero. What would it be worth to be able to run your a/c for free then? I say put everything on essential but be aware of what you use when, and automate some things (geysers) with timers.  My brother-in-law in Courtrai did an install in January and from what I heard they are happy (they also put everything on essential on my suggestion). I can ask who they used.

I'm also of the opinion that for most ZA houses 8kw is the right size inverter. With that put everything on essential. Larger items like geysers can be timed. Aircons are not THAT bad if they are inverter tech

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2 hours ago, Abe53 said:

Hi Richard, where will inverter be installed? If noise might be an irritant, consider a silent inverter. Noise down the passage did not bother me, but did irritate my wife. Changed to silent inverter, and will install silent as standard in future. Was taken to task for saying that I read they use better components and have longer lifespan. Poster reckoned they run hotter and will fail sooner. Beg to differ, they do cost a little more, but have huge heat dissipater aluminium fins and can afford using higher spec components and design to keep cool. Eventually a fan will fail....

You did mention future-proofing. Why then not 2 x 5 kW inverters in parallel? Costs not much more than one 8kW and gives redundancy. A Sunsynk 5kW model is available fanless, as are many Solis models.

Inverter to be installed in the garage - lucky to have a fairly big garage, thought of adding a drywall partition room in the garage for dust proofing, insulation, etc., will just need to ensure temp control through extraction fans/something similar. The garage also quite removed from living areas. So the fan vs no fan is not really an issue for me. TBH, have not thought of 2 x 5kw inverters, will investigate cost difference. But from my (limited) understanding, I think the 8kw should work for us. 

Thanks for the info!

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In general you're looking at a sensible setup. I'd suggest looking at some of the following tweaks, but it's up to you. Anything I say to be checked by yourself and your installer.

1. Consider the Canadian Solar 605W Super High Power Mono PERC HiKU7 panel, 10pcs, instead of 12-14 545W panels. This you should be able to fit to 1 MPPT. With the 545W panels you'd have to put maximum 8 or 9 in series on one MPPT to be safe, and that could make future upgrades to panels just a little more complicated. Not critical, but otherwise in the future you may have to consider mixing different panels on one MPPT, or putting two 13A strings in parallel, or fitting less than the maximum Wattage in total to the inverter, basically all things that would make your setup sub-optimal.

2. Kids/Guest geyser to stay on non-essential loads. No change to the element. Main bathroom on AUX load. Element reduced to 2kW, with timer.

3. Consider if one of the aircons can also be on the AUX load. For example, in the main living area, or close to the significant other's WFH area. 

4. If Sunsynk batteries increase the inverter warranty to 10 years, that's a big incentive to go for it. But personally I'm partial to the idea of 3 x 0.5C Pylontech or similar batteries up front, and saving a kW or so of peak panel output to help pay for it. I just think the system overall is more balanced like that, and you can store up power to help carry the loads through the night, including cooking in the evening, and still have spare for loadshedding at night.

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1 hour ago, Scubadude said:

I have a contrarian viewpoint ... It would be a terrible waste to have 8kW available from the roof on a sweltering Paarl summer's day (I know - I grew up there!) but the batteries are fully charged so output is choked to zero. What would it be worth to be able to run your a/c for free then? I say put everything on essential but be aware of what you use when, and automate some things (geysers) with timers.  My brother-in-law in Courtrai did an install in January and from what I heard they are happy (they also put everything on essential on my suggestion). I can ask who they used.

This is what swung me towards the all-on-essential side, read somewhere of people generating great output, but having nowhere to dump it after the battery is charged, geysers on temp, etc. My wife WFH and I am fairly flexible, so between the two of us we should hopefully be able to "manage" the system until we get the hang of it. 

Also, I reckon I will be over-panelled in the summer, but want the extra panels for the shorter winter days to help out there (and make use of the SARS rebate). Eventually hopefully sit on +-20kw batteries also for longer nights and increased load shedding. 

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11 hours ago, GreenFields said:

2. Kids/Guest geyser to stay on non-essential loads. No change to the element. Main bathroom on AUX load. Element reduced to 2kW, with timer.

3. Consider if one of the aircons can also be on the AUX load. For example, in the main living area, or close to the significant other's WFH area. 

This AUX load is a Deye/Sunsynk thing, no? Am I correct in that it's a sort of conditional back up? The AUX loads are backed up as long as certain conditions are met?

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11 hours ago, RichardH89 said:

This is what swung me towards the all-on-essential side, read somewhere of people generating great output, but having nowhere to dump it after the battery is charged, geysers on temp, etc. My wife WFH and I am fairly flexible, so between the two of us we should hopefully be able to "manage" the system until we get the hang of it.

OK. So you are going to watch the system and learn from that. I think that's essential early on.

Where we differ is that I'm pessimistic and would rather start light and then move things on to the essential loads. This happened with our stove and then with the heat pump. You're more optimistic and your approach is that if there's a problem then we'll address it. 

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18 minutes ago, Bobster. said:

This AUX load is a Deye/Sunsynk thing, no? Am I correct in that it's a sort of conditional back up? The AUX loads are backed up as long as certain conditions are met?

Correct, these loads are dependent on meeting a minimum solar power generation, and a minimum battery SOC. If conditions are not met, loads can be set to either turn off, or else default back to grid if available.

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On 2023/04/24 at 9:33 AM, Bobster. said:

OK. So you are going to watch the system and learn from that. I think that's essential early on.

Where we differ is that I'm pessimistic and would rather start light and then move things on to the essential loads. This happened with our stove and then with the heat pump. You're more optimistic and your approach is that if there's a problem then we'll address it. 

Apologies for only getting back to this now. Work/family/house kept me busy. 

Correct, my wife is savvy enough when it comes to elec usage and tech (she's into programming/systems building), so hoping with her being at home that she can also observe and manage the system initially. I will be putting my 2 x geysers and pool pump on CBI Astute controls, hopefully, I can get this linked up with Home Assistant without to much hassle. Will probably end up doing the same for the oven and "non-essential" AC isolators. 

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On 2023/04/23 at 9:49 PM, GreenFields said:

In general you're looking at a sensible setup. I'd suggest looking at some of the following tweaks, but it's up to you. Anything I say to be checked by yourself and your installer.

1. Consider the Canadian Solar 605W Super High Power Mono PERC HiKU7 panel, 10pcs, instead of 12-14 545W panels. This you should be able to fit to 1 MPPT. With the 545W panels you'd have to put maximum 8 or 9 in series on one MPPT to be safe, and that could make future upgrades to panels just a little more complicated. Not critical, but otherwise in the future you may have to consider mixing different panels on one MPPT, or putting two 13A strings in parallel, or fitting less than the maximum Wattage in total to the inverter, basically all things that would make your setup sub-optimal.

2. Kids/Guest geyser to stay on non-essential loads. No change to the element. Main bathroom on AUX load. Element reduced to 2kW, with timer.

3. Consider if one of the aircons can also be on the AUX load. For example, in the main living area, or close to the significant other's WFH area. 

4. If Sunsynk batteries increase the inverter warranty to 10 years, that's a big incentive to go for it. But personally I'm partial to the idea of 3 x 0.5C Pylontech or similar batteries up front, and saving a kW or so of peak panel output to help pay for it. I just think the system overall is more balanced like that, and you can store up power to help carry the loads through the night, including cooking in the evening, and still have spare for loadshedding at night.

Thank you @GreenFields

I will enquire about the 605W panels, my installer said he is sitting on some 550W Canadian Solars at the moment, availability is almost king for me at this stage TBH. Thanks for the inputs, will definitely consider the AUX load route, see my previous post about the CBI Astutes, not sure what will work better? Or can I do both? 

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On 2023/04/23 at 9:53 PM, RichardH89 said:

This is what swung me towards the all-on-essential side, read somewhere of people generating great output, but having nowhere to dump it after the battery is charged, geysers on temp, etc. My wife WFH and I am fairly flexible, so between the two of us we should hopefully be able to "manage" the system until we get the hang of it. 

Also, I reckon I will be over-panelled in the summer, but want the extra panels for the shorter winter days to help out there (and make use of the SARS rebate). Eventually hopefully sit on +-20kw batteries also for longer nights and increased load shedding. 

The excess will be fed to non-essentials when the grid (Eskom) is on. Took me a day to get my head around that one but yesterday we only used 200W in Somerset West from Eskom during the day. Geyser is a solar geyser.

What I'm seeing with panels is that even now you don't get much power on overcast rainy days. Saturday was my first full day on solar and generation was 10-20% of the total installation.

I did under spec battery requirements by ordering only one and ordered an extra 5KW block after tripping the inverter early yesterday morning. I had to manually load-shed the house during load-shedding.

I'm considering connecting my 5KVa Grip generator to the AUX, apparently, it is dead easy according to the installer. I've got an 8KW Deye inverter and it is dead quiet even though we are pulling 4KW continuously during the day for the wife's business on our property.

Moving non-essential to essential is also dead easy for an electrician. My wife's AC is on non-essential until we get the second battery as she uses the heat-pump to warm it up her business in winter.

Edited by cbrunsdon
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