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epnaude

DIY Growatt 5kva, Pylontech 3.7kw, 10 x 410W

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Posted (edited)

After spending months browsing this great forum full of expertise and restless nights in bed doing research I finally saved up to do my own Solar installation.

Almost 1 month ago I bought the following: (and only this, no wires, no breakers, nothing)

1 x Growatt SPF 5000TL (Even after reading about the BMS firmware and data logging issues, I still believe this to be my preferred option)

1 x Pylontech US3000 (I wanted to by the Dyness, but had some extra cents and seemed that the Pylontech setup was a bit easier with the growatt)

10 x 410W Canadian Solar Poly PV (I wanted to max out the 5kW PV input on the Inverter) Doing 5 strings of 2 in series (10A x 5; @ 90V)

 

If it was not for the fact that we have loadshedding; and that I am in a deadlock billing dispute with Tshwane about double billing, and only have 30kWh units left on my locked prepaid meter, I most probably would not have started with the installation until I had everything ready.

So, I share you some progress as I go along and hope to have everything done within the next day or so.

 

Even though I bought the mounting tools 2 weeks ago, The biggest hurdle for me was the flat roof mounting of the panels. Hell of a job for someone with a stuffed back and wanting to do it the hard way by making my own mountings. I finally mounted them on the roof with the help from my brother.

I bought 15 x 2.5m aluminum angle Irons from Builders that left only 2 pieces of less than 25cm as offcuts when I was done

I used 4 existing mounting holes on the panels and made L - Brackets and tighten everything with screws , washers on 2 triangles for each panel. They withstood the 25km/h winds over the weekend but I will ballast them to the roof tomorrow in some way.

They are mounted at 30 degrees North on my almost flat roof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by epnaude
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Posted (edited)

I want to split the incoming Eskom power, through another breaker to my inverter(which will be behind my fridge) and back into a changeover switch with eskom in the DB again.

So yesterday I decided to peek into the very very old DB box (Only Hulk can flip the mains and green geyser switch on)  to see how I am going to drill trough the wall behind it.

WOW!!! as my dad always says...."hoernes" came to mind. and to believe that I got a COC for this when  I moved in.

Luckily I am shit scared of electricity and used some of my wifes kitchen mittens to tuck some wires back in to close the lid again because BOOOOOM!!!!!! a massive spark and a fart later all power went off... there was a loose ground that was bent and hanging by a molecule that broke loose and made contact with the live bussbar.

Somewhere the Eskom power tripped as well outside my house, because after all that up and down of the mains switch till i started sweating the power was still off.

And despite my dislike in Tshwane and my billing dispute, they came within 4 hours last night after logging a call on their SMS line. Did you know that the breakers of the houses are mounted on top of the street lights...?

Bloody hell, I was walking up and down the street like headless checking looking for my meterbox and wandering 1.where I am going to get a crowbar and 2. which meterbox should I try first.

It is just then that I decided to get an Electrician that will get rid of the old breakers rewire my entire DB to DIN rail and assist with the Solar breakers in the DB.

Went around town today and bought all the needed stuff for tomorrow.

 

And seeing that I had some in-laws over, It was the perfect time for me to mess up the kitchen and make a lot of dust drilling through walls and pulling some wires for the electrician.

Takeaways in the flat outside it was for them..

I am using 10mm wire between DB and Inverter

 

Tomorrow will be a long stretch to try and complete,

I already got 100m of 6mm black and red PV wire and will connect the panels to the combiner box using MC4 connectors while the Electrician has his go at the DB, I'm not going near that thing again. Had to spray my pants to get the stains out after yesterday.

 

The combiner box that is due to arrive tomorrow.

From the Combiner box to the inverter is about 5 meter. The inverter can take up to 16mm wire. I will drive around and get some from the closest shop. If they don't have, I will most probably just end up using 2 x 6mm on each pole for that 5 meter final stretch.

Stay tuned, will post the rest tomorrow. If I don't, we have loadshedding and still no solar.

 

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Edited by epnaude

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1 hour ago, epnaude said:

1 x Growatt SPF 5000TL (Even after reading about the BMS firmware and data logging issues, I still believe this to be my preferred option)

1 x Pylontech US3000 (I wanted to by the Dyness, but had some extra cents and seemed that the Pylontech setup was a bit easier with the growatt)

I hope your backup loads are below 1700wh. If its above this the Pylon will switch off to protect itself against over discharging. you would effectively need 3 x us30-0 to run the 5kva in offgrid mode without problems. 

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Posted (edited)

What an eventful and tiring two days. It was all worth it, especially when I flipped the switch to change over to the inverter and gone was my days of load shedding.

So yesterday the Electrician came over to rewire the DB while I did some further wiring and mounted the inverter at its secret spot behind my fridge.

About 40cm gap between the fridge and back walls. Everything will be nicely tucked away in a hole. I don't believe heat will be an issue but I will monitor it closely

When all the old circuit breakers were removed the Electrician showed me the aftermath of what appears to be damage over the years of loose connections, an accident waiting to happen.

So the old breaker box was converted to DIN rail and it looks so much better.

The changeover switch works like a dream, easy to bypass the inverter to eskom when work is needed, also with another switch  to kill the mains to the inverter.

I wanted all the switches in 1 DB, luckily I had the space.

 

The main cables to and from the inverter was pulled through the back of the DB that is conveniently located on the other side of where the cables needed to be. A short reroute through the kitchen and behind the fridge.

Also received the combiner box this morning and finished pulling those cables about 15m to the roof.

5 pairs of cables later and a brain fart left me with all the wires nicely pulled through to the combiner box but with NO idea which cable is on what panel.... back I went again, pulling back and forth to label them. To get on the roof is a mission by itself and a walk to the other side with the ladder(to short to reach the roof in 1 go)

All in all, I am happy. The inverter has some fan noise (quite loud) with any load above 600 ish Watt, but believe this will be more quite once the fridge goes back in.

Tomorrow I will do the finishing touches and tidy up with some trunking and try and find a way to do live monitoring using the wifi dongle. Currently it appears to be delayed by a few minutes as it connects to a cloud server for the logging.

On a side note, there was no need to flash the firmware to make the BMS work as intended.

I only changed the dip switches on the battery and connected the monitor cable in the right ports.

 

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Edited by epnaude

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Will the fridge’s radiator/condensor be against to the battery and inverter? Just be careful of choking the ventilation to the parts as well as adding more heat to them from the fridge.

Yeah, those Growatts are quite loud. I had one for a short while. The fan quite happily turns away even if the inverter is just busy transferring AC.

New DB looks neat (aesthetically - I’m a layman when it comes to the actual wiring)!  

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Tnx for the compliment,yes the electrician was a very nice guy that came out at last minute and didn't charge an arm and leg to redo the DB.

Will recommend him, he is in PTA East Moreletta Park..

 

Finally my wife thanked me, not only for not having load shedding this morning but also for having her kitchen back, and I am back working in my room as the inlaws are over again... Might have to rip out the floor next.

 

I measured the distance between the fridge and inverter once I moved it back in, 50cm.

Doubt that will give any heat issues, I did put quite some strain on the inverter today, at some stage trying to overload with geyser, pool, washing machine, coffee machine, dishwasher but it never switched off. It did go above 7kva for split seconds but that was it. I will definitely pay attention to the temp in the summer.

All that is left is to tidy the wiring around the combiner box and to label the DB.

I am very happy with my setup and looking forward to optimize usage.

I did measure quite a bit of voltage drop, around 16V. I am using 6mm wire from the panel to the combiner (15-20m) and 16mm from combiner to inverter (7m), little bit off heat on the fuses but the cables were cool. PV wattage peaked at around 3300W, I might be able to add another panel to each string but definitely not now.

Last night the battery discharged to 50% around 12am, then recharged using eskom and discharged again to 50% at 7 this morning then started charging by the solar around 7am

The monitoring software is still a bit of a nuisance for not being instant, but it will do. (I did receive a Monitor software on a CD, still have to check that out)

Here are some screenshots of the mobile app and cloud server.

If anyone is not yet convinced to get solar or a Growatt inverter...I am certainly glad I did it. used 15kWh from solar today and no eskom...

Cheerio, thanks for reading.

 

 

 

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very nice setup!

also doing my research currently, but need to finish my measurements first and also decide on the inverter/panels.

your inverter, going on your tests above, is able to automatically switch to eskom should the load be too much for your panels?

i read on another solar advice website that you will rather need a hybrid system, which i don't want to play ball with (not interested in feeding back into the grid)

thx sir!

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6 minutes ago, ErwinK said:

i read on another solar advice website that you will rather need a hybrid system, which i don't want to play ball with (not interested in feeding back into the grid)

A hybrid inverter doesn't need to feed back into the grid. You can set it to only push back into the non-backed-up circuits over your house, but not back into the municipal supply.

With a hybrid inverter (probably also some non-hybrid ones, but those can't also supplement demand from the rest of your house), you can also use the grid only for any excess power you need. For example, if your PV is generating 1000W but your house requires 1500W at that moment, you would only use 500W from the grid. This helps to optimise your PV usage as you can imagine.

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3 minutes ago, jykenmynie said:

A hybrid inverter doesn't need to feed back into the grid. You can set it to only push back into the non-backed-up circuits over your house, but not back into the municipal supply.

With a hybrid inverter (probably also some non-hybrid ones, but those can't also supplement demand from the rest of your house), you can also use the grid only for any excess power you need. For example, if your PV is generating 1000W but your house requires 1500W at that moment, you would only use 500W from the grid. This helps to optimise your PV usage as you can imagine.

ahhhhhhhh LIGHTBULB. /runs off to look at hybrid again. thank you sir!

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54 minutes ago, ErwinK said:

ahhhhhhhh LIGHTBULB. /runs off to look at hybrid again. thank you sir!

Just be careful for the naming convention of "hybrid" as it seems to have gotten quite distorted.

If you want a good idea of the capabilities of a true "hybrid" inverter, check out the youtube Webinar by Victron on their ESS system. About 40 minutes long, but I think the first 15 or so summarise the functionality. Obviously, such a system is more flexible than a cheaper solution like a Goodwe inverter, but you'll the "hybrid" terminology can be applied to Goodwe as well.

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1 hour ago, ErwinK said:

very nice setup!

also doing my research currently, but need to finish my measurements first and also decide on the inverter/panels.

your inverter, going on your tests above, is able to automatically switch to eskom should the load be too much for your panels?

i read on another solar advice website that you will rather need a hybrid system, which i don't want to play ball with (not interested in feeding back into the grid)

thx sir!

Thank you for the compliment,

Yes it is able to switch or supplement eg:

1. Solar first - during daytime solar will be used first and supplemented by battery if needed,(extra solar will keep the battery charged) and switch to eskom entirely if: A. No more solar power OR B. Battery goes below a certain set %. once the sun set, my inverter switch to eskom and will only use battery again if Eskom fails

1. SBU mode - during daytime solar will be used first and supplemented by battery if needed. when the sun sets the battery will be used until it reaches a certain % and then switch to eskom to charge battery while supplying power to the house again untill battery is charged to a certain %. (I am not using this mode as I saw that the system cycles my battery twice per night, as I don't have enough battery to last untill the next morning to charge on sunshine)

 

 

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17 hours ago, epnaude said:

Thank you for the compliment,

Yes it is able to switch or supplement eg:

1. Solar first - during daytime solar will be used first and supplemented by battery if needed,(extra solar will keep the battery charged) and switch to eskom entirely if: A. No more solar power OR B. Battery goes below a certain set %. once the sun set, my inverter switch to eskom and will only use battery again if Eskom fails

1. SBU mode - during daytime solar will be used first and supplemented by battery if needed. when the sun sets the battery will be used until it reaches a certain % and then switch to eskom to charge battery while supplying power to the house again untill battery is charged to a certain %. (I am not using this mode as I saw that the system cycles my battery twice per night, as I don't have enough battery to last untill the next morning to charge on sunshine)

 

 

that matches exactly what i will need -> plain an simple operation. I think i will probably go with SBU mode (if i can afford enough pylons -> balance between panels/batteries seems to be the budget winner here.

Quote

 I did put quite some strain on the inverter today, at some stage trying to overload with geyser, pool, washing machine, coffee machine, dishwasher but it never switched off. It did go above 7kva for split seconds but that was it.

what happens during an extended overload? (i can't believe the above didn't use more than 5Kw). I am planning to keep geyser , but letting it run on a timer to only heat at the warmest time of the day when there is surplus solar. challenge is to remind the rest of the house not to go rambo with the power during that hour.

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Hi ErwinK, 

This inverter can peak at double its capacity for 10ms. Yes it went far above 5kW. If the load is not reduced within 10sec it will automatically shut off completely, and the power will trip.

This happened twice with me, both times I flipped the changeover switch in the DB to get the power back bypassing the inverter. I then had to shut down the system and restart and then  flip the changeover back to the inverter.

The inverter does have a "auto restart after overload" setting, it is off by default. I am considering this as both times I was just a second to late to switch of the geyser element, a timer would come in handy.

As you said, it comes down to load management.

 

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Need some help,

Seeing that my inverter is behind my fridge and that Growatt software is on a delay, is there anyway I can get some realtime data? The PV Keeper software does work but it seems limited i.t.o. logging and graphing. I do like the look of Watchpower and from there perhaps export to a graphing tool that can show some nice realtime graphs. The idea is to have a tablet of sorts up on the wall next to the fridge.

Anyone have something similar going that wouldn't mind sharing how they are doing it?

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