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DECLARATION FOR OFF-GRID SMALL SCALE EMBEDDED GENERATION


Johan Grobler
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Morning guys,
Late last year, I received a personalised mail from COCT regarding my SSEG installation. They did aerial surveys, and because I have solar panels on my roof, they derived that I have a SSEG installed. I now have to register my SSEG with the council, their reasoning is that they need to know who has these installed, as there is a potential that these may shock their technicians if the power is swithed off and not properly installed.

 

Problem I have now is that it looks like it requires the following:

A schematic diagram showing details of the off-grid SSEG installation in relation to the wiring of the premises and the City’s electricity grid.
A Certificate of Compliance (CoC) and test report is required only if an off-grid installation is integrated and interlocked with a change-over switch between the utility electricity grid and the customer electrical installation, as follows:
a. Passive standby UPS utilised as off-grid hybrid SSEG as defined in the City’s Requirements for SSEG document, and;
b. SSEG alternative supply in terms of SANS 10142-1: 2017

My system utilises an Axpert inverter, so I guess that their request is valid, problem being that the "schematic diagram" they require, seems to be only obtainable by an engineer as far as my investigations go, and such an engineer comes at a costly sum of R35k.

Has anyone else had similar requests from COCT, and how did you comply with this request?

 

Thanks

Johan

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1 hour ago, Pietpower said:

That engineer has priced for everything or maybe priced himself not to get the job.

I agree. That's a guy who doesn't want the job... 🙂

Engineer costs should be somewhere between 3k and 12k. The last time I attempted this (before I moved and pre-empted the whole thing), the whole engineer plus documentation cost was 6.5k, VAT inc.

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Another thing I've been thinking about is what about people who have similar installations, but do not have solar panels, but charge their SSEG's from the utility, and use it during power outages. Surely they would also have to register their systems? How would those systems be identified?

Perhaps I'm asking questions to the wrong forum, but asking these to COCT yields absolutely no answers.

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From your initial post there is no indication that it should be signed off by an engineer.

Draw your setup as simple as can be and make use of crayons and colors  :)

If you didn't do the install yourself, ask the installer to supply this. Start with that and see what they come back with. 

Edited by Tsa
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17 minutes ago, Johan Grobler said:

I still think that R6.5k is a lot for a diagram. My incoming connection is about 5 metres from my db, and my installation is 2 metres from my db. I cannot see how that cost can be justified.

It is not just a simple diagram.  You are probably relying on the the engineer to put the information together, He probably has to drive to your place. He probably won't give you a hand sketch but an AutoCAD drawing. He has a reputation and needs to ensure information is correct before he can issue it.

But as said above: Do you need an engineer?  Just do it yourself.

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40 minutes ago, Johan Grobler said:

Another thing I've been thinking about is what about people who have similar installations, but do not have solar panels, but charge their SSEG's from the utility, and use it during power outages. Surely they would also have to register their systems? How would those systems be identified?

Perhaps I'm asking questions to the wrong forum, but asking these to COCT yields absolutely no answers.

That's not a SSEG. That's a UPS. Covered by SANS codes and has nothing to do with PV.

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2 hours ago, Johan Grobler said:

I still think that R6.5k is a lot for a diagram. My incoming connection is about 5 metres from my db, and my installation is 2 metres from my db. I cannot see how that cost can be justified.

That's the full fee. About half of that is for the engineer, the other half is a documentation fee. The guys I am using (a local installer, they unfortunately won't sign off systems they didn't install or at least supply) handles the whole thing for you, including checking or drawing the diagram.

But as Piet said, you my not need the engineer. All you need is a diagram, and then you fill in the relevant form that declares the setup off-grid. At least, I think the Axpert is now acceptable as off-grid.

1 hour ago, The Bulldog said:

That's not a SSEG. That's a UPS. Covered by SANS codes and has nothing to do with PV.

As far as I know the PV modules are the generator, and they consider that generator to be "embedded" (into the grid) unless you declare that it isn't, or prove that it is correctly embedded (via a compliant conversion interface, aka inverter).

So this is indeed considered an SSEG installation... the one with the confusing language saying something to the extent of "I'm using a UPS for this"... 🙂

1 hour ago, Johan Grobler said:

What is your understanding of "change-over" switch.

They want to see one on the diagram... but even if they didn't, it is a damn good idea to have one. If that inverter ever blows up, you want to be able to click over the changeover and restore the power to make the wife happy... before you start messing around trying to figure out what went wrong.

The changeover merely switches your backup loads between the inverter output and the grid. It must be suitably interlocking. It is a small cost to pay (about R350 for the Hager SFT240).

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53 minutes ago, Johan Grobler said:

So what you're saying is that if I uncouple my solar, then I can let them know I no longer have a SSEG?

Yes.

I have had a similar case just on a much bigger scale. I had Victron Multiplus inverters that are not NRS097 approved with Solar charging the batteries via MPPT. COCT rejected this outright. By moving the panels to a grid-tie that was compliant the Mutiplus became a simple UPS with batteries charged from grid (and solar indirectly). That was acceptable to COCT even though there was no change in how the inverters were wired.

The moment your batteries are not DIRECTLY charged by solar but this goes via the grid (or not at all) you have a UPS. Provided it complies with SANS.

 

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4 minutes ago, The Bulldog said:

Yes.

I have had a similar case just on a much bigger scale. I had Victron Multiplus inverters that are not NRS097 approved with Solar charging the batteries via MPPT. COCT rejected this outright. By moving the panels to a grid-tie that was compliant the Mutiplus became a simple UPS with batteries charged from grid (and solar indirectly). That was acceptable to COCT even though there was no change in how the inverters were wired.

The moment your batteries are not DIRECTLY charged by solar but this goes via the grid (or not at all) you have a UPS. Provided it complies with SANS.

 

Thanks. How did you declare this, as this is exactly what my setup is, 4 solar panels charging my batteries in conjunction with the grid.

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21 hours ago, Johan Grobler said:

Morning guys,
Late last year, I received a personalised mail from COCT regarding my SSEG installation. They did aerial surveys, and because I have solar panels on my roof, they derived that I have a SSEG installed. I now have to register my SSEG with the council, their reasoning is that they need to know who has these installed, as there is a potential that these may shock their technicians if the power is swithed off and not properly installed.

 

Problem I have now is that it looks like it requires the following:

A schematic diagram showing details of the off-grid SSEG installation in relation to the wiring of the premises and the City’s electricity grid.
A Certificate of Compliance (CoC) and test report is required only if an off-grid installation is integrated and interlocked with a change-over switch between the utility electricity grid and the customer electrical installation, as follows:
a. Passive standby UPS utilised as off-grid hybrid SSEG as defined in the City’s Requirements for SSEG document, and;
b. SSEG alternative supply in terms of SANS 10142-1: 2017

My system utilises an Axpert inverter, so I guess that their request is valid, problem being that the "schematic diagram" they require, seems to be only obtainable by an engineer as far as my investigations go, and such an engineer comes at a costly sum of R35k.

Has anyone else had similar requests from COCT, and how did you comply with this request?

 

Thanks

Johan

A clear, hand drawn single line diagram is all that is needed with your application. It must show the change-over switch and clearly show how it safely chooses between your inverter output and the utility mains supply. According to SANS10142-1 the change-over switch must be an approved type with a centre-off position and this fact should be confirmed as a comment on the test report section of the CoC for the installation. 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I talked to a gentleman by the name of Mike at CoCT, before the lockdown, he was part of the solar department, first he told me that the there was a list of approved change over switches on the CoCT website, but when I could not find the list, called him back and he said that he had been mistaken, yes, guess there is no such list, as long as the change over switch has a “ break” before “ make “  position, they will be satisfied with that

Edited by Tariq
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