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Hi Guys, i'm busy building a new home and want to go the partially off-grid and in future off-grid route and home to learn allot from the experienced guys on this forum.

So first off i have the opportunity to do this correct from the get-go. The house is still under construction and should be done by end of July 2019.

1. The home is in a security estate in Durbanville.

2. We fall under COCT

3. We had to buy kampstrum smart meters that apparently supports feeding into the grid. (The fact that we live in an estate and buy electricity from PEC probably takes that off the table..)

Question 1:

I have looked at the COCT approved inverter list and after doing some research want to go the hybrid route. I read somewhere that you are limited to 3.5kW inverter in COCT district. Is this true?

Question 2:

Looked at a few brands and at the moment its between 5kW GoodWe (which seems to be the ReneSola rebranded) and Infinisolar. Which one would you recommend? I know that the Goodwe doesnt support stacking which is a pity but do you need more than 5kW? We are 2 people and all lights will be LED with Solar geyser. Rest of appliances are standard, Fridge, 2 freezers, oven, microwave, iron TVs etc etc

Question 3:

I dont see Axpert on the COCT approved list. Is this allowed? They seem to be very cheap in comparison to Goodwe and Infinisolar. (I wonder if they are any good...)

I would prefer to procure all hardware myself and then to get a installer to install and sign off on the installation.

Would appreciate any advice, guidance etc from those who have paid the school fees.

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3 hours ago, Heinds said:

I dont see Axpert on the COCT approved list. Is this allowed? They seem to be very cheap in comparison to Goodwe and Infinisolar. (I wonder if they are any good...)

Don't open that can of worms again... 😛

There is a long discussion elsewhere about how at present it seems all hybrid inverters potentially don't comply with SANS. The jury is still out, but I suspect at the end the Goodwe and the Infini will be acceptable, and the Axpert will not.

3 hours ago, Heinds said:

which seems to be the ReneSola rebranded

Renesola tend to rebrand other people's things rather than the other way round 🙂

 

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I would definitely go the Goodwe route . Even though it cannot be stacked, it wouldn't be an issue in your case. My next option would be the Solis hybrid inverters, though they're not easily available locally. The Infinisolar inverters are very nice but also very expensive. And, then, if you're at that end of the budget spectrum, Victron would be the next option to go for. Though it's not entirely hybrid so you need to purchase the MPPT charger separate from the inverter itself. and also use a Ziehl anti-islanding device  to be compliant. 

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37 minutes ago, SilverNodashi said:

... and also use a Ziehl anti-islanding device  to be compliant. 

Not if you use a Multiplus II / Multigrid / Multigrid II.

Solis, look at www.thepowersore.co.za

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7 hours ago, SilverNodashi said:

I would definitely go the Goodwe route . Even though it cannot be stacked, it wouldn't be an issue in your case. My next option would be the Solis hybrid inverters, though they're not easily available locally. The Infinisolar inverters are very nice but also very expensive. And, then, if you're at that end of the budget spectrum, Victron would be the next option to go for. Though it's not entirely hybrid so you need to purchase the MPPT charger separate from the inverter itself. and also use a Ziehl anti-islanding device  to be compliant. 

Thanks @SilverNodashi. Based on your experience would you say Goodwe or Solis? Seems like the Solis inverters are actually cheaper than Goodwe. Is the Solis stackable? If i go for the GW5048D-ES as an example which seems to be a 4.6kW Hybrid Inverter (4.6KW Backup) model would that not be an issue in future if my load in the home increases and i need to upgrade?

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@Heinds 

Solis:
Was told you can have up to 3 on the same DB when I looked seriously at them at one stage because of price and simplicity.

Why Victron:
Primarily because they are workhorses, designed to operate in the harshest circumstances = reliability and longevity.
Victron is like Lego's, mix and match as you wish and everything fits together like a glove. Obviously there are some T&C's now and then.
Wide support all over SA with substantial price drop the last year.
They have been around the block a few times, having had 5 year warranties since forever.
That the warranty follows the device, not the original owner, so one can buy 2nd hand with confidence.
They are designed for a hybrid solution.

Recently here on the forum I saw what Goodwe says re what you can power if the grid is off. That was like "o my", I did not know that versus powering a house / boat / ship on batteries / solar without blinking an eye. The little titbits that just makes me like Victron even more, as good as Goodwe seems to be.

Will I maybe one day try a GoodWe, Solis, SMA? Yes. Till then Victron is plug and forget with all the data you can ever want, being Opensource, if that is your thing.

 

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2 hours ago, Heinds said:

but why would i want to go Victron in stead of Goodwe or Solis? Different types of inverters? Quality? Price? Flexibility? 

All of the above.

First, the Solis is a grid-tied inverter, or a PV-inverter in Victron Parlance. No batteries. The Goodwe is a hybrid (like the Victron inverters). So put the Goodwe on the right next to the Victron (and the Infini!) and the Solis on the left. Different types.

Quality? Yes. I generally rate Goodwe and Victron above Infini, and quality wise Victron is definitely still a tad above Goodwe.

Price, yes. Leaving out the very expensive Infinis (which nobody buys), you can get very cheap Infinis, followed by Goodwe, followed by Victron, roughly in 20% increasing steps. Packaging differs too: Goodwe bundles two MPPTs inside one unit, with Victron you have to buy those separately (unless you go with an EasySolar model).

Flexibility: Victron kicks dust in the eyes of everything else in this department. If you want to do fancy integration and modbus comms and things, there is no equal.

If you're in software and/or you love open source, no equal.

Technology wise, adding to what TTT said above: Victron inverters are rock-solid work horses, and the internal design is old-school (low frequency). Some marketing people will tell you that is a bad thing (cause new is better, right?). Goodwe makes a slightly more "modern" inverter, but on another thread yesterday we were discussing how the Goodwe manual actually tells you not to run certain kinds of loads on the backup side (which included things like washing machines and other things one would DEFINITELY run during load-shedding). The blue inverter doesn't bat an eye with these. In other words, I get the impression the Goodwe inverter is really a grid-tied unit with an emergency-power feature as a nice extra. The Victron inverter is a proper off-grid inverter that can also tie with the grid, is stackable, and can have AC-tied PV on its output (ie you can attach other PV-inverters to the OUTPUT of the Multiplus and have them work when the grid is off, subject to some caveats).

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2 hours ago, Heinds said:

Thanks @SilverNodashi. Based on your experience would you say Goodwe or Solis? Seems like the Solis inverters are actually cheaper than Goodwe. Is the Solis stackable? If i go for the GW5048D-ES as an example which seems to be a 4.6kW Hybrid Inverter (4.6KW Backup) model would that not be an issue in future if my load in the home increases and i need to upgrade?

For now, Goodwe, then Victron (depending on your budget). 

When the hybrid solis inverter are locally available, it might change. For a non-battery-backed-up solution, the solis inverters are rather cheap and work well. 

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Hi,

As much as hardware is important we generally overlook or not focus on the software side of things.

Does anyone know how the monitoring capabilities compare on Goodwe vs Victron. It is always good to know how the system is performing, historical data analysis and ability to make changes in the system depending on changing needs.

 

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22 minutes ago, Athish said:

... monitoring capabilities ...

Cannot speak for GoodWe, but I do know:
You have the local VenusGX data display on the spot via any browser or Victron App.
You can access the VenusGX from anywhere in the world.
The VenusGX data is sent Victron's web for nicer presentation and historical data.
If you into Linux and Github and all that, you can send data to Emon/PVO ... and a lot more. Opensource!
And if you are into NodeRed, @PaulF007 showed me this there other day for the VenusGX: https://github.com/victronenergy/venus/issues/378

Paul takes data usage to the next level with what Victron gives and can give us.

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@plonkster @The Terrible Triplett I think you guys just convinced me to come over to the "blue side". So where would i start:

  • Best pricing
  • Which model
  • Which extras

I guess the idea is to try and run as off-grid as much possible with the possibility of adding batteries for loadshedding and possibly load at night when there is no generation from PV. Sheesh the more i type the more i realize how little i know.  😩

Edited by Heinds
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1 minute ago, Heinds said:

"blue side".

Welcome. 🙂

Current Automation has some seriously good prices.

Start here:
Victron MultiPlus II Inverter 48/3000 
MK3-USB to upgrade the Multiplus firmware
Victron BlueSolar MPPT regulator max 150/45 or whatever you want - going like 150/100 or 250.100 gives more space to add later
VE.Direct cable for MPPT - depends how far MPPT is from VenusGX
VenusGX
Carlo Gavazzi with RS485 to USB - 5m

And Pylontech batteries

Canadian solar panels

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23 minutes ago, Heinds said:

I guess the idea is to try and run as off-grid as possible with the possibility of adding batteries for loadshedding and possibly load at night when there is no generation from PV. Sheesh the more i type the more i realize how little i know.  😩

With the specs in the post above, you are going to be grid tied, so the whole house benefits from solar power, from the moment the sun comes up till it sets.
With the batteries you will have select circuits running off solar and / or batts when Eskom is off.

Plug and forget. No jokes. Once it is in and settled.

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1 hour ago, Heinds said:

convinced me

TTT's got the basics. With a Multiplus-II you don't need the Caro Gavazzi though. You can either get away with nothing at all (if all loads are on the output), but most likely you will get the cheaper current transformer, which costs about a third of what the Carlo Gavazzi and its cable costs.

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Thanks guys, i have just emailed CA for prices. Will talk to you about installers once i have made the call! :)

By the way, what will it take to go totally off grid in future. I'm guessing allot more capacity on inverter and batteries? Will the batteries be able to pull the entire home during loadshedding? Fridges/Freezers maybe washing machine?

 

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11 minutes ago, Heinds said:

By the way, what will it take to go totally off grid in future. I'm guessing allot more capacity on inverter and batteries? Will the batteries be able to pull the entire home during loadshedding? Fridges/Freezers maybe washing machine?

Oh we cannot answer that. That's like asking how long a piece of string is. To go totally off-grid your inverter must be able to handle the largest appliance you have, which is probably not a mere 3KVA... so you would have to add more Multipluses in parallel to get it up. You also need battery capacity for a whole day's loads plus a bit extra for a rainy day (or a backup generator). So whatever you're spending now... multiply by three... that is where you start! 🙂

About powering loads during load shedding, I have a 3KVA unit with 7Kwh of battery storage (300Ah, 24V). During load shedding I normally power just the important things, lights, television, computers, internet router and WiFi, the wife's hairdryer (very important!) and a few water pressure pumps that feed the toilets (Western Cape... drought... alternate water sources). But recently I have also powered my 9000BTU air conditioner, a microwave oven (warm milk for breakfast), the washing machine (Bosch 6kg frontloader), and a kettle once when I really wanted some tea. All without a hickup. Of course you have to take some care... best to leave the heavy loads off when the wife is using the hair dryer.

I have about 1.8KWp of PV panels... which around here rates as one of the smaller setups.

So I think I can answer your question with a Yes, you can certainly live a fairly normal life during load shedding... just without stove and geyser.

Edited by plonkster
KVA -> KWp. Units are important.
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1 hour ago, plonkster said:

Oh we cannot answer that. That's like asking how long a piece of string is. To go totally off-grid your inverter must be able to handle the largest appliance you have, which is probably not a mere 3KVA... so you would have to add more Multipluses in parallel to get it up. You also need battery capacity for a whole day's loads plus a bit extra for a rainy day (or a backup generator). So whatever you're spending now... multiply by three... that is where you start! 🙂

About powering loads during load shedding, I have a 3KVA unit with 7Kwh of battery storage (300Ah, 24V). During load shedding I normally power just the important things, lights, television, computers, internet router and WiFi, the wife's hairdryer (very important!) and a few water pressure pumps that feed the toilets (Western Cape... drought... alternate water sources). But recently I have also powered my 9000BTU air conditioner, a microwave oven (warm milk for breakfast), the washing machine (Bosch 6kg frontloader), and a kettle once when I really wanted some tea. All without a hickup. Of course you have to take some care... best to leave the heavy loads off when the wife is using the hair dryer.

I have about 1.8KWp of PV panels... which around here rates as one of the smaller setups.

So I think I can answer your question with a Yes, you can certainly live a fairly normal life during load shedding... just without stove and geyser.

Cheers @plonkster thanks for the advice! Grid tied it is, at least till a few more bonuses :P

 

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1 hour ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

R1100 incl + change for the cable. It ties nicely with the VenuxGX to see all the in/out flow of power. 😋

Oh agreed, I'm just pointing out that the Multiplus-II has a feature that allows substituting the CG and the RS485 cable with a simple current transformer. The CT is just over R500. The CG meter is usually around 1k and the cable around R450. So i just saved him around R900 🙂

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