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New, planning a solar setup for end of 2020

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Hi all,

I am new on the forum. I am based in Cape Town.

I have been researching solar for about 2 years (not an electrical engineer, so I need to read the same thing a few times before I "start" getting it), and I am planning to invest in a hybrid system in the second half of this year, once I have enough savings. In the mean time, I have done a few changes to our house, to get electrical consumption below R1000/month (LED lights everywhere, timer on pool pump, new induction cookers). My next step is probably to install a geyserwise timer and a 1kW element: if that works, the electric geyser will be part of the "essential loads" of the inverter (my electric geyser is stuck under some stairs and cannot easily be retrofitted with a solar geyser or heatpump).

My conundrum is how much to put into a hybrid system, when my electricity consumption is pretty low. It would make little sense to invest more than R100k as the payback period would exceed 10 years. On the other hand, I value having a battery bank to have no load shedding impact, and our roof requires a dual array of PV (complicated roof, meaning 3 PVs facing NW and 6 facing NE).

As a hobby, I made a small solar pump+filtration system for my 200L water feature, and I am working on a small solar drip irrigation system.

I also did our rainwater setup in 2017. We now have 90% autonomy with our rainwater tanks, pumps and filtration system. First step was to bring down our water consumption below 50L/person/day (that was surprisingly easy), then install tanks on both sides of the roof, pumps and filtration system. Best improvement I have ever done to our house. There is something enormously satisfying in using your own water. We could be 100% autonomous if I could find the space to add an extra 5000L storage capacity without ruining my front patio.

To be transparent: I am also one of the persons behind EcoDepot, an ecommerce shop that started in 2018, focusing on home improvements. This came after the experience gathered in doing my water setup.


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Hi There Oli4

When i started off in solar a year ago I struggled to get answers, people don't want to give the info out and they get peed off if someone does give the info out.

I love the fact that you harvest the rainwater and then filter it. I would like to know more about this. We currently use about 17KL of water in my house  a month and i think this is madness.

When going solar buy the best you can afford. on this forum some say the Shneider is like the Porche of inverter the Victon is the toyota and the Voltronic/Mecer is the GWM.

A lot of us can only afford a GWM and if we use it correctly within the specifications it will work for a couple of years but will have to be upgraded.

My opinion Buy a Victron 5kw inverter if you can. Buy good solar panels A grade  at least 325w each. Buy proper lithium batteries like pylon tech. 

In my honest opinion don't go for a smaller than 5KW inverter. I have a Mecer 3kva and i promise you it is a pin in the ass if the wife tells you but she cant use the microwave and the kettle at the same time. i have seen some very nice installations where people have 2 mecer 5kw inverters in parallel with 15 solar panels and 4 pylon-tech batteries and they hardly use any eskom power and they run everything from it stove borehole swimming pool geyser. 

The most important thing is enjoy the journey. 



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