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Starting solar back up with the Axpert 5kV inverter


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I am new to this forum and I want to get some advice.  I want to start a solar back up for my gate motor, garage motors, alarm system, a few lights and my TV  to help me through the frequent load shedding in Johannesburg.. Having gone through some of other contributors very informative opinions, I want to start  with an Axpert 5kv  inverter, some batteries and a few solar panels.I am working with a tight budget of R30K.  I am living in Johannesburg south. I don't know much about  (solar) electricity . Can you please recommend for me where to buy the equipment (I have Solar Advice in mind) and the right electrician to install it for me at a decent price considering all the technical and legal minefields that I must go through. Thank you in anticipation.

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Hi Deon Welcome.

Two thoughts:
1) Axperts are not on the CoCT Approved list, so when that regulations hits Jhb, Cpt was the pilot province, you may have more expenses. 
2) Start off with a UPS, a solar one that is on the approved list, and power all via that.

Here is what I would have done on a 30k budget:
Step 1: Make sure of the total watts you need powered, and the runtime.
Step 2: Then get a battery bank and a Victron BMV with a inverter that matches the loads, with some spare capacity.
Step 3: Later I will get panels and a MPPT. I like MPPT separate from the inverter, future proof my expansions over time.

Or you can go 5/4/3. 
5kwa Axpert, 4kw array and 300ah battery bank connect it all to the house and be done ... :D

Read these two threads

 

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10 hours ago, Deon00 said:

I want to start a solar back up for my gate motor, garage motors, alarm system, a few lights and my TV  to help me through the frequent load shedding in Johannesburg

You don't need a 5KVA inverter to power those things. You can get away with something much smaller. One reason to go with the larger inverter would of course be for some future proofing, but as TTT already said, that inverter might have a limited life due to the legal minefield you mentioned.

( In fact, I was hoping he'd do the honours... I didn't want to be the ass to drill a hole in your boat :-P ).

30k is really really tight. That's roughly what my first system cost... back in 2013. Then again, PV panels have halved in cost since then, so that gives you a bit of room. I can wholeheartedly recommend the setup I used back then: A Victron Multiplus Compact (1600VA), with an external MPPT charge controller (which you can even buy later, as cash permits). In fact, take a look at the 24V 1600VA EasySolar, it comes in around 17k, and it includes an MPPT plus some breakers. Just add batteries and PV panels. You can probably get away with two 100Ah batteries for under 5k, and for just over 6k you can get 3 x 300W PV panels. That leaves you some change for decent PV cable (UV rated) and for the mounting hardware. If you do some of the work yourself, it can probably be done. You are supposed to use a qualified electrician if you want to tie it into the DB board, and that might push you over a bit.

Alternatively you can really future-proof it and go with a MultiGrid 3000VA, but then you'd have to leave the PV panels for a later date :-)

Disclaimer: I have a vested interest in the hardware advertised above. Just so you know. In my defence, I bought my system before having that interest :-)

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22 hours ago, Deon00 said:

I am new to this forum and I want to get some advice.  I want to start a solar back up for my gate motor, garage motors, alarm system, a few lights and my TV  to help me through the frequent load shedding in Johannesburg.. Having gone through some of other contributors very informative opinions, I want to start  with an Axpert 5kv  inverter, some batteries and a few solar panels.I am working with a tight budget of R30K.  I am living in Johannesburg south. I don't know much about  (solar) electricity . Can you please recommend for me where to buy the equipment (I have Solar Advice in mind) and the right electrician to install it for me at a decent price considering all the technical and legal minefields that I must go through. Thank you in anticipation.

 

13 hours ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Hi Deon Welcome.

Two thoughts:
1) Axperts are not on the CoCT Approved list, so when that regulations hits Jhb, Cpt was the pilot province, you may have more expenses. 
2) Start off with a UPS, a solar one that is on the approved list, and power all via that.

Here is what I would have done on a 30k budget:
Step 1: Make sure of the total watts you need powered, and the runtime.
Step 2: Then get a battery bank and a Victron BMV with a inverter that matches the loads, with some spare capacity.
Step 3: Later I will get panels and a MPPT. I like MPPT separate from the inverter, future proof my expansions over time.

Or you can go 5/4/3. 
5kwa Axpert, 4kw array and 300ah battery bank connect it all to the house and be done ... :D

Read these two threads

 

HI TTT

Thank you very much for the advice. Let me go over this very carefully so that I can ask more questions

Regards

Deon

 

 

 

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As @plonkster said, you don't need a 5KVA to run those things. In fact, for a gate / garage motor, I would use a 50W panel with charge controller connected to the batteries. No need to worry about COC for that. You can do it with the Alarm as well. But that all depends on how many lights you need on, and how many people you are. My neighbor, with 6 people in the house, use an average of 2KWh energy till about 11am then it drops a bit. 

On a tight budget, and with R30 budget, you can get a 2400W Axpert inverter with battery backup, tie it into the DB board with a changeover switch and be able to get a COC. IF you're not going to connect solar panels to it, the above warning doesn't apply to you since your not generating energy. (although, technically you are, since there's a charger built-in) BUT if you want to be super cautious, you would need to get one of the, far more expensive, inverters on the approved SSG list

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Oh wow, you guys are not making it easy. You are scaring off a new entry without even trying...

Forget the legalities, as long as you are not connecting to the Utility (Eskom, eThekwini or other), then you can do what the hell you want. I still will urge you to be careful as DC power can be just as dangerous, but don't give up your attempts at solar...

Start with the small stuff and enjoy the freedom. You will NEVER earn enough with solar to warrant the expense, but please don't stop enjoying the experience.

Gate Motor: get a generic charge controller from any store that sells (Ellies, local battery supplier, etc). You only need about 10A for a gate battery.  My suggestion is to get a bigger battery for your gate (maybe a 15/20A), the standard 7Ah battery cant' cope even if you solar power it. A 40W or better panel is ok, but make sure that the Vcc voltage is below or about 18VDC so that it will work with a cheap contoller. In our unfortunate world, you do have to make sure it can't be stolen, so put it somewhere safe (the panel and anything else that can be stolen). That small isolated system can work very well, I have personally used it for 8 years without issue). Just remember that you have to weather protect the controller, they are cheap rubbish, don't let them get wet.

Alarm System: So much easier, but a similar approach. A 100W panel on the roof can almost completely give all the power you need. Again, a small "cheap" controller can deal with this. I have a 200W setup where it's only job it to keep my alarm system charged. Again a small cheap charge controller. Mine is definately overpowered, and a 100W is probably sufficient, but the extra power has made sure that even on bad days I have never had to worry about my alarm system going dead. (PS: 2 x 100W panels, complete overkill, but works)

Alarm System/Lights: Internal lights are actually easy. This will not change your alarm. I purchased a bunch of small LED strips. These are now installed at the top of ALL my infrared sensors (except in bedrooms, it can be annoying to have lights on all night). Every infrared sensor in your house already has 12V from the battery... If you want a permanent light, even a emergency light, connect a LED to the same power as the the infrared alarm. My entire house works like this and we don't turn a light on for nothing.

TV: Oh wow, we can have large debates on this. But let's be reasonable. No matter how good you eventually get you solar setup, nothing will work as good as a 20min UPS system (no matter the detractors here who will try argue otherwise - a cheap UPS is actually still the best 15 min solution). A proper computer/electronic system needs a Sine wave input, but our electricity providers (eThekwini, Metropol, etc) cannot give us that guarantee. A very basic but Sine Wave UPS will sort that out, and protect our equipment. Don't go solar if you only trying to stop this from damaging your equipment, you are then missing the point and will never realise the advantage.

 

Money - Wow, you are already starting with a bigger budget that many of us... Just don't spend it quickly until you read enough of this forum. Your budget is not huge, but there are ways to make it work to your advantage. You just have to go slow (2 years stung, so please go slow)

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On 2018/08/05 at 10:55 AM, KLEVA said:

TV: Oh wow, we can have large debates on this. But let's be reasonable. No matter how good you eventually get you solar setup, nothing will work as good as a 20min UPS system (no matter the detractors here who will try argue otherwise - a cheap UPS is actually still the best 15 min solution). A proper computer/electronic system needs a Sine wave input, but our electricity providers (eThekwini, Metropol, etc) cannot give us that guarantee. A very basic but Sine Wave UPS will sort that out, and protect our equipment. Don't go solar if you only trying to stop this from damaging your equipment, you are then missing the point and will never realise the advantage.

 

Money - Wow, you are already starting with a bigger budget that many of us... Just don't spend it quickly until you read enough of this forum. Your budget is not huge, but there are ways to make it work to your advantage. You just have to go slow (2 years stung, so please go slow)

With load shedding or power failures how many people started out with a small inverter and added a larger battery to run the TV, and then added a lamp and then added something else on an extension cable , then got a larger inverter and added more batteries and more stuff to run. And then ended up going the solar route

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48 minutes ago, seant said:

With load shedding or power failures how many people started out with a small inverter and added a larger battery to run the TV, and then added a lamp and then added something else on an extension cable , then got a larger inverter and added more batteries and more stuff to run. And then ended up going the solar route

A LOT!!!

But even more, once their batteries got destroyed because they where Sealed Maintenance Free Leisure "Deep Cycle" batteries, over used because of more loads added, and had to be replaced within 6-8 months, gave up on when they saw the costs of a proper battery bank and BMV and balancers ... . ;-)

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Plenty of forks in the road. I've seen one guy take all his solar panels off and sell the entire system. Just up the street. I think what happened is the batteries died and he finally had enough. There was a fork in the road, and he decided to turn around (always a viable option when neither option is appealing to you).

I still think it unwise to spend too much money on a large inverter if you're loads are small. Yes, of course there are ways to do it very cheap by moving some systems directly to DC. That is always an option. But I find that the motivation for such shenanigans disappear the moment you have one or two AC loads. The moment your hand is forced into buying an inverter, you might as well run the gate and the alarm from it too. Sure, it's not as efficient, but so much easier!

So if your hand is forced and you need an inverter, the only reason (far as I can see) to buy a big one is because you anticipate that there will be larger loads in the future, in other words, you anticipate expansion. Either that, or the thing is really really cheap. Remember also that these things have like a 50W quiescent draw.

So fork in the road time: Do I buy short term or long term?

If I buy short term, then you can take whatever inverter you want. In fact, take the cheapest one. You're going to throw it away, or sell it really cheaply. Go for the 12V one, those sell on the easiest. Or chuck it in the back of the bakkie for camping purposes.

If I buy long term, I probably want something that won't have legal issues, unless I go completely off-grid.

Which is another fork in the road: Fully off-grid or partially on the grid? To go full off-grid you are banking on there being more than another 30k coming up some time in the future, so this is a decision you have to make carefully. If not fully off-grid, you should really maybe look at a good hybrid inverter, one without legal issues.

I suspect the first question every solar enthusiast must answer is whether they just want to save money, whether they want some independence, or a little bit of both.

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As a start-up to solar, or just for backup purposes, would it make sense to go Axpert (small or medium), solar panels and say 1 pylon-tech battery? (Dunno if that would make it under R30 with COC because you're hooking it into the TV and lights). And would you still need a BMV between the inverter and the battery if you with the pylons?

 

-G-

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Under R30k is hard to do. There is more than enough money to buy a small system that maybe a good start. If however you are going to expand you going to sell the very same kit. So if we are wanting to avoid redundancy we looking at a bit more Tom.

The cheapest hybrid that complies with NRS 097.2.2. is a Infinisolar 3k plus. Good inverters (I have yet to hear of one fail) and some batteries. I would not buy just one Pylontech unless you are able to double up fairly soon. I would find having 50Ah (and 40Ah available) purgatory. 

But basically one has now spent the budget and there is not a solar panel in sight. If we go with a small Victron and MPPT  we looking at about R10k for not much in the inverter/charger capacity and a good MPPT which again leaves precious little for batteries and panels. 

I hate buying something new know that you will sell it on the secondhand market in a couple of years. The depreciation all happens in your hands.

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On 2018/08/02 at 11:09 AM, plonkster said:

A Victron Multiplus Compact (1600VA), with an external MPPT charge controller (which you can even buy later, as cash permits). In fact, take a look at the 24V 1600VA EasySolar, it comes in around 17k, and it includes an MPPT plus some breakers. Just add batteries and PV panels. You can probably get away with two 100Ah batteries for under 5k, and for just over 6k you can get 3 x 300W PV panels. That leaves you some change for decent PV cable (UV rated) and for the mounting hardware.

Just highlighting a previous good suggestion, near future proof and deals quite nicely with the average lower loads on solar leaving the big ones on Eskom.

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4 hours ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

near future proof

I'm in the process of installing my new 3kva. It's 2018. I bought my 1600VA inverter in July 2013, so its just about 5 years on. I really am utterly amazed at how well it's held up. I remember initially being irritated by all those "just slightly too big" loads (dish washer... running at a few 100W except for the 5 minutes that it's heating water!). And then I configured it to be a hybrid (first hub4, then ESS), and that is a total game changer.

There is no reason to replace the 1600VA other than that I'm finally doing the SSEG dance... and I'm not doing it a second time!

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38 minutes ago, plonkster said:

There is no reason to replace the 1600VA ...

Ditto.

No need to replace my 1600VA Phoenix inverter after 8 years going on 9, being off-grid and all that. SSEG and NRS regs - gmpf. Be gone you.

And have backup for the selected circuits.

Total cost back then, below R30k ... easy.

To do it is not THAT difficult. All comes down to one single question i.e. NEEDS vs WANTS: How many watts on for how long?

WANTS: The bigger the load, the longer the run-time the bigger the price i.e. bigger inverter = larger battery bank = more panels.
vs.
NEEDS: The smaller the load, the shorter the run-time the smaller the price i.e. smaller inverter = smaller battery bank = less panels.

And then you have Gumtree!!! With Victron warranties following the device, that is very good, you can get bargains when people upgrade. ;)

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15 hours ago, plonkster said:

I'm in the process of installing my new 3kva. It's 2018. I bought my 1600VA inverter in July 2013, so its just about 5 years on. I really am utterly amazed at how well it's held up. I remember initially being irritated by all those "just slightly too big" loads (dish washer... running at a few 100W except for the 5 minutes that it's heating water!). And then I configured it to be a hybrid (first hub4, then ESS), and that is a total game changer.

There is no reason to replace the 1600VA other than that I'm finally doing the SSEG dance... and I'm not doing it a second time!

Hi

 

Are you going to document your "migration" for us?

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1 minute ago, Antony said:

Are you going to document your "migration" for us?

Chances are I will answer questions based on my experience in any case :-)

So far I've only done a new DC distribution board with new breakers. I'm installing the new inverter closer to the batteries this time (shorter DC cable run) and instead of reusing a bunch of old stuff I had lying around I bought some new stuff this time.

(A mechanic's car is always a little wonky, as they say).

Once that's done, hopefully it's just a skip and a dance away. And some paperwork.

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  • 7 months later...
On 2018/08/02 at 12:18 AM, Deon00 said:

I am new to this forum and I want to get some advice.  I want to start a solar back up for my gate motor, garage motors, alarm system, a few lights and my TV  to help me through the frequent load shedding in Johannesburg.. Having gone through some of other contributors very informative opinions, I want to start  with an Axpert 5kv  inverter, some batteries and a few solar panels.I am working with a tight budget of R30K.  I am living in Johannesburg south. I don't know much about  (solar) electricity . Can you please recommend for me where to buy the equipment (I have Solar Advice in mind) and the right electrician to install it for me at a decent price considering all the technical and legal minefields that I must go through. Thank you in anticipation.

Evening to you all. I have finally managed to increase my budget from R30K to R60K. I want a 3kva or better a 5kVA Victron inverter. Is at all possible with my new budget.

 

Regards

Deon

 

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9 hours ago, Deon00 said:

Evening to you all. I have finally managed to increase my budget from R30K to R60K. I want a 3kva or better a 5kVA Victron inverter. Is at all possible with my new budget.

Jip, it is, if you shop right.

But I would focus on a 3kva, regs and all that just in case, and the fact that with grid tied, unless you have very high average usage, will fit the bill quite nicely.

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10 hours ago, Deon00 said:

Evening to you all. I have finally managed to increase my budget from R30K to R60K. I want a 3kva or better a 5kVA Victron inverter. Is at all possible with my new budget.

 

Regards

Deon

 

Im going to go against the popular opinion on this here forum, but Im a big boy so I will take the hiding. Plus this is what I have installed for my personal family and friends and it works.

 

1. Just for backup with no solar now or in the future:

5 kVA Axpert (R10k) with 2 x US3000 Polyntech (R40k)  giving you 10 hours with the loads mentioned. Installation shoudl include an additional Earth leakage breaker, additional neautral bar and a change over switch if you ever need to bypass the inverter, battery brackets and cables.

 

2. Loadshedding backup with solar in the future:

Goodwe5 kW Hybrid inverter (R28k) with 2 x US2000 Polyntech ( R30k)  perfect for load shedding but you are paying premium to allow for future solar addition.

add panels later  18 x 330 VA Panels ( R36k) and you will bring your power bill down to a very low number on an average house if you tweak your lifestyle and habbits.

 

 

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Thank you for the advice. The proposition by Jaws is very tempting but I'm not familiar with the GOODWE 5KW  inverter. However, I would like to go with TTT's proposition. I want to go for the Victron 3kVA inveter that's been stuck in my mind for a while now. The Victron sounds like the Mercedes Benz of inverters. Can you then advice me on whether to buy a 24V or the 48V inverter? Can you then suggest to me the full list of the other things I need to complete the installation,  where I can source  for these components and who you can recommend to do the installation for me in Johannesburg South. 

Regards

Deon 

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9 hours ago, Deon00 said:

Thank you for the advice. The proposition by Jaws is very tempting but I'm not familiar with the GOODWE 5KW  inverter. However, I would like to go with TTT's proposition. I want to go for the Victron 3kVA inveter that's been stuck in my mind for a while now. The Victron sounds like the Mercedes Benz of inverters. Can you then advice me on whether to buy a 24V or the 48V inverter? Can you then suggest to me the full list of the other things I need to complete the installation,  where I can source  for these components and who you can recommend to do the installation for me in Johannesburg South. 

Regards

Deon 

48 V will open you up to more Lithium battery options.

Most of the installers that I work with dont deal with Victron equipment , mostly Goodwe and the likes, so I cant help there.

The additional equipment required for Victron is going to be a long list 😜

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9 hours ago, Deon00 said:

Thank you for the advice. The proposition by Jaws is very tempting but I'm not familiar with the GOODWE 5KW  inverter. However, I would like to go with TTT's proposition. I want to go for the Victron 3kVA inveter that's been stuck in my mind for a while now. The Victron sounds like the Mercedes Benz of inverters. Can you then advice me on whether to buy a 24V or the 48V inverter? Can you then suggest to me the full list of the other things I need to complete the installation,  where I can source  for these components and who you can recommend to do the installation for me in Johannesburg South. 

Regards

Deon 

24V limits you to about 3KW inverters in general, though I have a 24V 5KW inverter here as well.

48V will take you to the next level and allow for expansion in future, but it's more expensive to begin with as you now need to buy 4x 12V batteries instead of two. The cabling and fuses also need to be taken into account for this.

To get the same watts, if you lower the voltage, i.e. from 48V ro 24V, the current goes up, and you would need thicker cables. BUT, if you plan on installing 5Kw in future, you would need the thicker cables as well. So this could be a one-time purchase to save some cash.

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