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Off-grid, Eskom as backup and batteries as last resort.


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Interesting.

 

Jip, also have had a few conversations with the wife, she doing all the conversing, about warm water and power. Seems to be a common problem all over.  :D

 

I was told many years ago that to use solar PV panels to heat water, is less efficient than EV tubes ... but, from what you have done, it makes a lot more sense i.e. solar for the house, surplus power to heat the geyser, for my solar geyser, many years ago, was R28 000 - but at the time, PV panels would have been near impossible to fund.

 

With a stringent discipline, geyser was paid for in under 24 months BUT, if I have to redo it today, I will follow your logic Gustavo, because today solar panels are a lot cheaper than back then. I started when they where close to R30per watt. Today you can get same at about R9 per watt.

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  • 2 years later...

Here is the original thread where the interlock introduced to PowerForum the first time.

At this time I already knew CoCT had regulations in place for installing solar panels. Little has changed on their side since this thread was started in 2015, nor from 2008/2012 when I really looked into it. 2012 I chose the off-grid route by getting a Victorn Phoenix inverter.

Today they want ALL to register if you have panels, no matter how it is connected.
And they added the R150 connection fee.
They forced me to make a move.

Going grid tied I can make that R150 extra a moot point on the exiting array and now I can grow the array even bigger, seeing as the house always needs more power, from the moment the sun comes up to when it sets. Self consumption at this point in time.

And having the batts already, if Eskom tries their luck again, that is sorted to. Multigrid sorts it all in one go.

AND with said Multigrid I can go back to off-grid if I want ... 

So, if the CoCT electricity cost increases even more, or they are allowed to buy from home users (NERSA and Constitution matters), then I will swap the PAYG meter for a bidirectional meter and "sell back" to CoCT, having up to 3 BIG Solis inverters connected to a roof full of panels. (I can but dream.)

But not today. Today I am going Multigrid grid tied with a PAYG meter.

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Indeed, during cloudy spells, you chuck it into "keep batteries charged" and you get things like this:

Selection_245.png.d912b3d0fc90f6bdea08733927f235ac.png

A drop in the bucket... but 260W's none the less.

Because I know this thing's guts inside out, what I do is go into the CCGX and set /Dc/0/MaxChargePower to zero on the vebus service. So I get "keep charged but don't use the grid for it" behaviour. I should suggest making this part of the main release.

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7 minutes ago, plonkster said:

.. 260W's none the less.

YES!!! That is what sold me on the rig: ESS - you KNOW how close I came to the Solis purchase. :-)

Those titbits here and there, early mornings / later afternoon / cloudy days, all that which was previously not possible being off-grid = "lost", will now start to flow into the house.

This Multigrid is going to pay for itself chop chop I tell you! Just like the EV tubes way back.

If this option was available in 2012, I would never have gone the off-grid route. My patience has paid off.

 

9 minutes ago, plonkster said:

I should suggest making this part of the main release.

If I may, unless I am missing the option? 
Option to discharge the batts, like the charging option, on pre-set schedules to a pre-set DOD.
Then option to recharge the batts the following day at X% of array's incoming power, or some such, so not to waste the days power to the house if there is not enough.

Focus being on using the power, even the stored power, yet not wasting low yield days with re-charging the batts.

Obviously one can override it all if you want ... if power failures are pending. 

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1 hour ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Option to discharge the batts, like the charging option, on pre-set schedules to a pre-set DOD.

Something like this is coming in v2.20. Scheduled charging has an intended side-feature you can use to prevent discharge until a specific time.

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2 hours ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Then option to recharge the batts the following day at X% of array's incoming power, or some such, so not to waste the days power to the house if there is not enough.

Just set the Max Inverter Power setting in the ESS menu. I often do that, if I see it's a 500W sort of day, just set it to 500W. Anything above that charges batteries. If not enough, it might discharge at a low rate, but obviously not beyond the configured MinSoc.

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55 minutes ago, plonkster said:

Something like this is coming in v2.20. Scheduled charging has an intended side-feature you can use to prevent discharge until a specific time.

Just to make sure, I'm referring to these screens below, of Charging, to be added for Discharging, like powering small loads between 12am - 6am:

image.png.344fa1b9cee9012ed1ec26ab98d954c1.png

image.png.ee3775d0e316371abab7edf936ebeaf4.png

With the option added above ^ to set a percentage (%) of incoming power to be used for re-charging if batteries are below a certain SOC of say 90% - as you know the loads use 10% of the batts are night.

With as you stated, this feature will never to go below the main SOC set of say 80% or whatever one set as the min SOC to be maintained.

This will use the batts in a normal day to day operation better in my opinion. Better ROI over their lifetime.

Yes?
No, go away?
Of am I missing the plot?

 

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9 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Just to make sure, I'm referring to these screens below, of Charging, to be added for Discharging, like powering small loads between 12am - 6am:

Version one was like that. We threw it out because it goes against the basic design principle of the ESS system. The ESS system is ALWAYS attempting to zero your loads unless the batteries are too low. The addition of a new "idle" state would cause too many questions and increase the support burden. The sales people were consulted and they said there is no real demand for it. Victron policy is to make things as simple as possible, because it is complex enough as it is :-)

There is however a side effect that is useful and intended to be used as such. The system charges until either the SoC is reached OR the end time is reached. The question was then what you should do if you reach the specified SoC but you are still in the time window. Two things are fairly safe to assume, and that is that the user wants the batteries to be AT that SoC when the end time is reached, but doesn't want the SoC higher than specified (usually to leave room for PV charging later). So what the system, does is it stops charging, but it doesn't enable discharge until the end of the charge schedule.

You can abuse this by setting a charge window with a very low SoC around the time where you want the system to be "idle", and this will give you scheduled "discharge" behaviour.

Edit: Just so you understand, the question "Why doesn't it discharge the batteries!?" is asked too often. There is always a reason for it, but we definitely don't want to grow the set of those reasons.

Edited by plonkster
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57 minutes ago, plonkster said:

We threw it out because it goes against the basic design principle of the ESS system.

Yes, make sense. Also makes sense that the "sales people" where not here on this forum where SolWEB and ICC was born. :-)

 

59 minutes ago, plonkster said:

Victron policy is to make things as simple as possible, because it is complex enough as it is :-)

They must talk to me, they need help.

 

I do get why it can get overwhelming technical for a new person. There are so many combinations one can chose to have, settings to match over the entire system, fully understanding the impact. But as a novice and newbie on this Multigrid ... feels like technical people are behind the software menu logic. ;)

Like hide stuff that is not needed to be seen by a end user, put it under System Service menu option.
Like if there is no tank sensors, don't show them on the device list or add a Not-Connected menu option if you have to show it.

If you sit down and really think it through from a non-developer / non-technical side / non-trained person, using a fresh perspective, using my infamous Tant Sannie in the Karoo who's husband went to hospital last night, her son in another hospital, at 6am she is phoning you, her software is not working ... 98% of those options are not needed by her. She wants to see X and Y ... like SolWEB and ICC, want to do X and Y and not interested in the rest. You want more, ok, click here ... higher grade stuff, there you go sunshine.

Upgrading the inverter firmware is super easy, unless you are not told 2 specifics.

And put a VenusGX board and a MK3 port (for firmware upgrades) inside the inverter case. Cheaper for Victron and the end user.
With MK3 part of inverter, bet you could then auto upgrade the firmware remotely.

As one learns more you become used to things ... one needs to analise the feedback BEFORE the user/s gets settled, or it will stay complicated.

 

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51 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

technical people are behind the software menu logic

Indeed. But take a look at the VictronConnect software. There a UX guy was involved, and so you will see it's a lot nicer. Small steps, it all gets there in the end.

54 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Like hide stuff that is not needed to be seen by a end user, put it under System Service menu option.

What stuff is that? The services menu only has service-related stuff in it... there's only a handful of them.

55 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

no tank sensors, don't show them on the device list

No way to know. They are resistive analog things. You can remove them from the display by disabling them deeper down. They simply come enabled by default so the user immediately knows it is possible. There was a bug in it once that made it impossible to disable them... which was fixed by yours truly. So I know :-)

56 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

really think it through from a non-developer / non-technical side

Not the target audience of the CCGX. A modicum of technical know-how is assumed.

 

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Also, I would not say ICC is a particularly good example of how to do software. And last time I saw the source the bulk of it (other than the free components it used) was in a file called unit1.pas. The developer (the one who leaked the source at least) didn't even bother to rename the default filename the IDE generated :-) I can only hope it is better now.

(I'm really setting myself up for flack now!).

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14 minutes ago, plonkster said:

There a UX guy was involved, and so you will see it's a lot nicer. Small steps, it all gets there in the end.

Much better yes ... right path yes ... but not getting that cigar just yet! The old BMV software was much nicer ito what it displayed.

VictronConnect has a delay in starting up ... needs some tuning to speed that up. Irks me as it is not "balanced" see. :-)

Small steps ... that is only because the Support Dep is not driving the techies.

Techies need to be pushed hard, actually really hard, to make screens nicer, as it is not their interest. Not a challenge. Boooring work.

 

17 minutes ago, plonkster said:

You can remove them from the display by disabling them deeper down.

I am not scared to click ... it is not obvious where to find it.
Fuel tanks x 3, Battery Temp sensors x 2, GPS, Tank pump  ... should not be there if not connected.
Where do I hide that which is not connected?

I'll still let you know about the USB hub ... have not forgotten re. the wine either.

 

23 minutes ago, plonkster said:

Not the target audience of the CCGX.

O really. :-) 

Best that changes then as the target audience is changing.

CCGX / VenusGX brings it all together in a nice package to see and read data, change some settings. Add all VictornConnect has into the CCGX / VenusGX software whilst you are at it, PVOutput and EMON too. It is easy ... for a non-tech developer. Very hard for the tech developers see.

Make CCGX / VenusGX part and parcel of all inverters by adding it in ... get with the future of solar ...

Wrap the existing well crafted software into a new user friendly end user package that is pleasing to use and helps sell more inverters ... that time has come. That time is now. :-) 

See, the way I look at it with all software:
1) Their is the tech level interface, in Victron's case, interfacing with all the hardware on bits and bytes level.
2) Then their is the front-end developers, artistically minded, ergonomically thinking - they listen to users.
The two are not of the same breed, don't even sit in the same office nor drink the same cool-aid. Together they are quite a team though.

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49 minutes ago, plonkster said:

... would not say ICC is a particularly good example of how to do software. 

There you made my point for me. :-)

Techie guy looking at code versus front end developer looking user friendly software - at what users want to see. ;)

Edited by Guest
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8 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Two different mindsets

Doesn't have to be the same people. I mean you have to do both. Can't excuse your horrible looking code because the UX was more important. Can't excuse the horrible UX because the code is beautiful. That's why big companies employ UX people to do that part, where the audience warrants it.

Truth be told, looking at screenshots of solweb and icc... they primarily implement dashboards. So you should be comparing it to the VRM website :-)

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16 minutes ago, plonkster said:

So you should be comparing it to the VRM website :-)

The dials just did not do it for me. SolWEB had no dials nor too much colour. The one developer asked me the one day: You visit porn sites much? Why, I asked? SolWEB looks like a porn site. Lesson learnt. Careful of too much colour.

Seeing the dials on the original SolWEB, developer says: YES!!! Lekka Boksburg!!! Wanna see my revs!? ;-)

But EMON was where the users now really added their own value. Some of them where really good, the desktop software just sent the data, as was the intention.

Me, I wanted to see the data like the old BMV software. All on one screen. Always look at the same data each day.

Today VRM data displayed is perfect for me, site is acceptable, have a suggestion or two, but nothing major, like a default landing page. Be able to move the data displays up and down, without having to deselect / select the widgets each time if you want to reshuffle. Remove unused options!

28 minutes ago, plonkster said:

That's why big companies employ UX people to do that part, where the audience warrants it.

Victron can change their audience. Junior developer can do the screens, not rocket science. :-)

You are not going to win this one. :-)
It is time. Change it!

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Just now, plonkster said:

It's not me you have to convince!

Open the door ... I'll walk through and take over ... oeps sorry ... take it from there. :D

No seriously. I know you have some say, consider what I am saying, if you recon there are merits, open the door and point me in the right direction.

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