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Experimental - DIY UPS Off-Grid Portable Solar System Installed On A Tight Budget


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Having read many posts here on the forum and watching countless hours of youtube videos over the last 2 years I finally took the plunge on 1st March 2019.

Suck It Eskom!

Experimental - DIY UPS Off-Grid Portable Solar System Installed On A Tight Budget

Design Brief

Frame, panels, batteries, distribution must all be fully portable and totally off-grid to allow for moving to a new house.
Suitable for rental properties where fixed installations are not possible or permitted by the landlords.
Affordable compared to most other scalable solutions.

Initial budget R30k, total spent on system excluding DIY time - R27500k
At the time of completion the project came in under budget. Further savings can be achieved by doing some serious shopping for available special deals.
Most of the items required can be directly imported with little or no Import duties, if you are prepared to wait for import shipping times and take the warranty risk associated with a DIY project of this nature then you would most like be able to build a much bigger and more robust system at a lower cost.

System components bought step by step in the following order for full DIY experimental project:

  1. Stand alone solar panel frame custom built from off-the-shelf components, fold-able and transportable if needed to move to new home.
    1. Research, Design, Purchase and Assembly - 2 days
    2. Parts sourced from Builders and sustainable website, can get cheaper direct from suppliers for the main metal parts
    3. Cost R2150.00 - Delivered
  2. Custom Wiring and distribution designed and assembled by myself from off-the-shelf components.
    1. Research, Design, Purchase and Assembly - 2 weeks
    2. DB Board and switches from Builders (was on special), meters from china, Cables from Cable distributor in Epping Cpt
    3. Cost R1200.00 - Collected In Store
  3. 1.04kw Solar ( Renewsys 260 watt x4) - sustainable website, not the cheapest, can now get much better deals elsewhere
    1. Research, Purchase and Assembly onto frame - 2 days
    2. Sourced from sustainable website special offer at time of purchase
    3. Cost R7572.00 - Delivered
  4. 24v Battery bank (Aokly 100ah X4 2s2p)
    1. Research, Purchase and Assembly - 2 days
    2. Cape Town Supplier down the road from me, also available on takealot (wait for specials for best price or contact seller direct).
    3. Cost R11200.00 - Delivered
  5. 1kw off-grid inverter/ups (no name chinese brand sold locally as Vision GF1000 in SA)
    1. This was a tough one, 3 months to research ideal inverter for required experiment, details to follow. 1 day to install and hook everything up and switch on.
    2. sourced from sustainable website, may be available cheaper elsewhere
    3. This inverter was chosen as it has a transformer compatible with a low frequency 24v 4kw inverter board upgrade for under R3k extra
    4. For this upgrade however I would also need to add a decent mppt charger (Will update this thread when I do the upgrade)
    5. Cost R5117.01 - Delivered
  6. Case Of Amstel Beer To Keep Going
    1. It was Hot Work Doing This
    2. Sourced From Tops
    3. Cost - R260.00

Results and satisfaction to date:
This diy solar system has been providing my office electricity supply non-stop now since 31st March 2019
Normal Office Consumption 24/7 at a continuous 290watts AC.
During load shedding I run a lead to my lounge which runs my Big screen TV, Streaming PC, Fibre Router and 3 lights as well as my full office keeps running.
Batteries have never gone below 75% even during load shedding.
On average the batteries go down to 85% and are again fully charged at around 11am.
As the batteries are fully charged by 11am the rest of the days solar production was going to waste.
From the 1st May 2019 I solved the wasted solar production by hooking up my D3 Dash Miner and setting it to pull 700 watts DC
The miner does a nice steady hash rate of 7000gh/s for the hours between 11am and 4pm every day.
No more wasted solar production and batteries remain full charged until the sun goes down.

Whats Next?
Exploring options to do the same type of portable system but this time grid-tied to supplement daily electricity use.
I will start another thread on the DIY grid-tie project.

Conclusion
It does not have to cost a fortune to get started with solar :)
And its actually quite easy if you read the forum and watch some youtube videos.
Side Note: Its also a good excuse to have those beers while figuring this all out and getting it done :)
 

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Image 1 - Full Front View - Completed DIY Portable/Movable Solar Panel Frame, Can safely take up to 4 panels up to size 450watts

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Image 2 - Front View - Completed DIY Portable/Movable Solar Panel Frame, Can safely take up to 4 panels up to size 450watts

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Image 3 - Side View - Completed DIY Portable/Movable Solar Panel Frame, Combiner Box Panels Wired 4 parallel

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Image 4 - Side View - Southeaster Protection Stay wires - Completed DIY Portable/Movable Solar Panel Frame

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Image 5 - Side View - Southeaster Protection Stay wires - Completed DIY Portable/Movable Solar Panel Frame

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Image 6 - Completed DIY Custom Built/Assembled PV Combiner Box

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Image 7 - Completed DIY Custom Built/Assembled Distribution Also Portable/Moveable

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Image 8 - Completed DIY Custom Solar System - The Inverter Wall Mounted

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Image 9 - Completed DIY Custom Solar System - The Inverters Simple Control Panel

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Image 10 - Completed DIY Custom Solar System - Wiring To The Circuit Breakers and Distribution Board

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Image 11 - Completed DIY Custom Solar System - The Fuses, Meters, Circuit Breakers and AC Distribution Board

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Image 12 - Completed DIY Custom Solar System - Energy Meters

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Image 13 - Completed DIY Custom Solar System - 24v 200AH Battery Bank - 4.8KW with usable 1.2kwh at 25% discharge

Edited by WannabeSolarSparky
Grammar
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44 minutes ago, plonkster said:

I hope you have something sinked into the ground to hold it down too. Not sure about your area, but where I live I get >100km/h winds a few times a year.

Hi @plonkster

When I first did the setup I had nothing, hoping the weight of close to 420kg would be enough, boy was I wrong, the 1st south easter that came over lifted it up quite a bit with the gusts that came around the side of the house, that's why the stay wires were added, they are bolted to the wall at a good angle to provide maximum holding force apposed to the angle of lift generated by the wind :)
Had some days in December with hectic cape winds and it did not lift an inch.

For now I will venture to say that it is as solid as its going to get.

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