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Pro Solar Installers & Misc



Hi there everyone. 

Being a total novice in the field but a quick study, countless hours of reading up and RFQs to the several first places that came up when searching has left me with quite alot of feedback from mainstream retailers. Sadly none of the quotes I've gotten live up to what I'm looking for in terms of pricing, especially after compiling countless lists of pricing I can buy all the main components seperate for at different places. 

This has left me with the option of sourcing all the main parts myself, and just getting someone to fill on the blanks like brackets, wires, DB and the actual installation. I'm convinced this will work out cheaper than some of the numbers I've seen and ill be a happy camper in terms of what I'm looking at getting. 

So the question beckons.. Do any of you know of a place that can handle the nitty gritty extras and install if provided inverter batteries and panels? And would it be possible for the communitys opinion on what I have in mind for the main elements? 

Thank you

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Installers are rather busy at the moment. They can almost pick and choose what work they want. You also want to be aware if you have any issues with the components you purchased that becomes your hassle to sort out not the installer. You could also pay a premium on instalation as the installer won't make as much on the job compared to supplying the whole set up.

Alternative Google and this site are wonderful resources and with some know how you could attempt it yourself.

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Hi @TheRidDlerX,

You asked me in a PM about this - but I might as well put up my reply publicly for others and for "peer review".

I''ve been a member on Powerforum since July 2017.  At that time I had made on offer on this house and was keen to do some renewable energy with panels etc.

It's still not done, but I reckon I'll be "live" in the next few weeks.  Off-grid while I wait for the CoCT to get back to me.

The project has been slow - distracted by the water crisis here in Cape Town and also by the learning curve if you really want to do this as a semi-DIY project.

Along the way I've wasted some money on mistakes - so there is some stuff standing here that is not required.

You can understand that those trying to make a living in solar are not so keen to come and do bits and pieces - there is a risk that they will become scapegoats for other system problems, and of course they need their margin to make a living.

One comment is that you can think of "UPS" for load shedding separately from solar generation.  Unfortunately, solar generation (especially if you can grid-tie) is relatively cheaper - panels and inverter; perhaps some tech to block reverse power flow).  The UPS side is expensive because it involves $$$BATTERIES$$$.

For us in Cape Town UPS-style setups just require ordinary COC.  Anything grid-tied or where the council can see panels needs to involve application to the council.

But anyway - me here's how the project has gone.  I needed a cost-effective approach since I don't have tons of money.

  1. First and foremost, you need to understand your load, bring it down and be really realistic about what NEEDS to work in a power cut.  Lights, fridges, a modern TV, internet etc - all light loads so no problem.  High draw long running stuff will mean you needs lots of batteries.  Very high draw appliances - Kettles, stoves, etc, are going to mean you need a powerful inverter.
  2. Second I read and read, asked many questions here and gradually got to understand the solar world and more about electricity distribution, SANS regulations etc.  There are some very knowledgeable people here.  I also got some books to read and lent on my general understanding as a geek and electronics hobbyist and radio ham.
  3. I bought two hybrid grid-tied inverters at great price when a company was stopping to sell to residential.  For me that has been good and bad - good because of the low price; not so good since it turns out hybrid inverters are in a bit of a rules no-mans-land in Cape Town.
  4. I then with a rush of blood to the head bought two Pylontech batteries.  As you know expensive but they are great.  This was when we had that short period of shedding before Christmas.  Such a pain having my computers and things going off.
  5. I installed my inverter on the wall myself, with the batteries.  Just plugged it into a socket outlet and fitted an output socket outlet.  With lots of questions here I did the correct breakers and battery fuses and fitted a Victron energy meter.
  6. I adapted some programs on line so I could read data from my inverter and from the batteries over USB and RS485.  This stuff I know how to do.  That data going to openenergymonitor.
  7. I then asked here about panels.  I got a number of responses.  One person in particular persisted - though not in Cape Town - so I order the panels from him along with the necessary combiner box and isolators and stuff.
  8. Around here everyone mentions the same person when it comes to installs.  He is very busy but I politely persisted and we eventually made a time and the panels are now fitted.
  9. My combiner box is delayed since the person who was supplying them fell off a roof and is injured (:-O) so I'm now trying to decide what to do about that.
  10. Meanwhile I built an "essentials board" according to the understanding I gained here.  Built it twice actually.
  11. From another recommendation here I connected with an electrician who will install my essentials board next week and pull my lights and a few other circuits over to it.  He'll also install the Carlo Gavazzi energy meter that is needed for my inverter to not push current back to CoCT.

There's more left to do:

  1. CoC for final install
  2. Setup the Carlo Gavazzi and test and understand how the grid-tie stuff works (I can't commission it officially until CoCT gives permission)
  3. Chase CoCT for their process and make changes that they may require.

When its all done I owe big big thanks to this forum and the fantastic people who hang out here.

So long story - but its best to go thoughtfully if you want to do semi-DIY - enjoy the journey - since there are lots of pitfalls.

Good luck,

Edited by Elbow
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