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Infini 3kw installation with pre-paid meter, COCT regulations.


Green Bum
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My context.

I live in the Overberg, my wife and two teenaged kids (almost ready to leave the nest) both work from home.

I have an almost religious belief that how much and way we use energy is not un-related to living a meaningful life, sensitive to our fellow travelers on a planet with limited resources. ??

I grew up in a house where post world war values of frugal use were applauded (switch of lights not used, boil as much as you use) our first solar heating system was installed more than 30 years ago!!

The System characteristics and requirements

·         I have an average use of 12 kwh/day. 80% of my consumption is during the day (A. the office, 4 desktops, three laser printers, lights phone, internet switch etc. and  (B) house, solar heating etc. cleaner twice a week dishwasher, washing machine (disconnected element 2 years un-noticed L)

·         I want to buy my system legitimately as business expense and therefore need the back-up/ups function for my essential office stuff +- 800w

·         I also believe load shedding outside office hours is romantic J

·         I want to use the grid-tied option for economic reasons. I still don’t own my house so any cash or other investment costs me 10%. My understanding is energy from batteries when grid is available is still not economical, I therefore want to limit the batteries as backup (800w for two hours which I can increase if needed)

·         I have taken the plunge and bought 12 Solarworld mono 260w panels, some rails and will be able to do my own installation on my 32degree North facing roof.

·         I see the adaptability (of-grid, UPS ) as ways to mitigate risk of incompatibility or due to pressure from the authorities as a grid –tied system

Questions

1.       I have followed all the discussions of Wetkit and others regarding their pre-paid challenges. I understand the Infini’s no export option but have no certainty that my Itron meter will accept this kid on the block. My old conlog meter was replaced due to interference and replaced with the Itron that communicates on more frequencies.(a) Given the risk of pre-paid trips and incompatibility would you guys with pre-paid meters, again buy the Infini with this un-known factor? (b) What % risk would you see for this inverter to be incompatible? 

2.       Steps taken to reduce risk include: (a) email to Itron no response (b) request to contact at ESKOM metering dept. (c) reading hours of your previous posts…. can any one suggest additional ways to reduce the risk of incompatibility?

3.       I don’t like computers, my son helps me with all my PC bugs, printer settings……. the discussions re. Software issues leave me with a knot in my stomach, do you believe the software to be sufficiently stable to drive the inverter for the next 10 year (life expectancy)?

4.       Do you agree that the 3kw Infini looks like a realistic fit for my context and expectations of (a) saving a buck (b) getting my hands dirty in a new world of learning and friends J (c) creating a realistic environment to learn to live with solar limitations (d) adaptability to changing environment.

5.       I understand from previous posts that the Infini will be using about 200w while floating. Do I understand this correctly that during the night the inverter will be eating on average 2.4 kw/h of electricity? If I do not intend to use or use minimal batteries, can I switch the inverter of?

6.       Also in a previous post someone mentioned that the Infini is not really effective as an off-grid system, do you agree?

7.       Do you think I am missing some important questions?

I am sure you will understand the stress of forking out good money, basically hurling yourself into the deep end. It seems the buying the panels is the easier part deciding on the rest, well tricky.

Your advice will be much appreciated

Green Bum

 

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Hi Green Bum

I am no expert at solar, I simply like the technology and have a small 3kW panel system connected to an Infini 3kW+. I recently changed from an Axpert inverter to the Infini as the Axpert worked my battery bank too hard.

The Infini, as far as I know, cannot be connected to a grid-limiter. I don't have a pre-paid/electronic meter but have read several times that the pre-paid meters don't like grid-feeding. Maybe there are several different types but sounds like at least some of them trip the mains if they detect reverse flow. So with the Infini you will need disable grid feeding and have all your consumers connected to the inverter output, which might be a bit too much for the 3kW model. (A 5kW model is available but quite expensive.) Whether the "no grid-feeding" setting alone on the Infini will be sufficient I am not sure.

Your alternative is to install a grid-tied inverter with grid-tie limiter. You can use that in conjunction with a smaller sized UPS type device like the smaller Axperts. The Fronius and Microcare grid-tie inverters are compatible with grid-tie limiters, there might be more. The grid-tie limiter will prevent feedback to the grid.

Cobus

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11 hours ago, Green Bum said:

Questions

1.       I have followed all the discussions of Wetkit and others regarding their pre-paid challenges. I understand the Infini’s no export option but have no certainty that my Itron meter will accept this kid on the block. My old conlog meter was replaced due to interference and replaced with the Itron that communicates on more frequencies.(a) Given the risk of pre-paid trips and incompatibility would you guys with pre-paid meters, again buy the Infini with this un-known factor? (b) What % risk would you see for this inverter to be incompatible? 

2.       Steps taken to reduce risk include: (a) email to Itron no response (b) request to contact at ESKOM metering dept. (c) reading hours of your previous posts…. can any one suggest additional ways to reduce the risk of incompatibility?

3.       I don’t like computers, my son helps me with all my PC bugs, printer settings……. the discussions re. Software issues leave me with a knot in my stomach, do you believe the software to be sufficiently stable to drive the inverter for the next 10 year (life expectancy)?

4.       Do you agree that the 3kw Infini looks like a realistic fit for my context and expectations of (a) saving a buck (b) getting my hands dirty in a new world of learning and friends J (c) creating a realistic environment to learn to live with solar limitations (d) adaptability to changing environment.

5.       I understand from previous posts that the Infini will be using about 200w while floating. Do I understand this correctly that during the night the inverter will be eating on average 2.4 kw/h of electricity? If I do not intend to use or use minimal batteries, can I switch the inverter of?

6.       Also in a previous post someone mentioned that the Infini is not really effective as an off-grid system, do you agree?

7.       Do you think I am missing some important questions?

Hi Green Bum

Welcome to the forum!

I'll try to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge:

  1. I cannot really comment on the use of pre-paid meters; I know some people had problems initially, but I think if you disable the "feedback to grid" option you should be fine - maybe others can elaborate on that. The infini cannot be connected to a grid tie limiter - the only option is to disable the "feedback to grid" option.
  2. No comment
  3. I assume you are referring to the bundled SolarPower software you use to configure and monitor the inverter with - it is useful although it contains a lot of bugs, but I'm busy writing software to communicate with the infinis and surely other in future will too.
  4. For your type of load the 3KW Plus infini will be perfect. While you still have the grid available, you don't really have a problem with the load limit of the infini, because it will combine power sources (Grid, PV and battery) and supply loads of more than 6KW (tested to 8KW) while the grid is available, so even if you have spikes above 3KW while you have grid power you will be fine.
  5. According to the specs it consumes more in the region of 60W - some people used stuff like the effergy meters which measures apparent power instead of real power and therefor got readings in the region of 200W.
  6. I'm not aware of that statement and would like to know why that is said.
  7. I think you've covered most, except for the batteries, but there you have plenty of options - a discussion on its own.
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welcome to the forum.

superdiy has answered most, i will give my opinion on two.

Question 2 .   The Conlog has been the nightmare for any installs i have done. The Itron has not been problematic at all for me.

Question 6.    Will be that you are now limited to max of 3kw of the inverter in off grid mode. I run my 5kw off grid, no issues and when using as a GTI, i manage approx 1mwh per month return to the Muni. The Infini fully pv'ed up should manage around 700kw return.

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Thank you so much for your feedback!

I do feel a bit out of my league amongst people that have walked this journey.

cvzyl it seems as if we are on the same page with the 3kw panels linked to the 3kw Infin+ I think my challenge is probably 30% technical and 70% legal due our municipality adopting COCT legal framework. I don't think it is reasonable to demand a electrical engineer to certify an installation beyond the certification of a registered electrician using an accredited inverter. I am happy to take my chances of legal complications but if my inverter is set to not export and does not export but my prepaid meter does not like  the inverters presence It will not be chance anymore but certainty that I will have legal complications!!

superdiy I assume the "bundled SolarPower software you use to configure and monitor the inverter with " that you refer to is additional to the software that comes with the inverter. As mentioned a computer needs to make my life easier not more difficult. I hope the original software will at least be able to give me a reliable 100km/h over a long distance.......? The peak load you mention of up to 8kw (spike) and layman's 60w float consumption is also great news!The Itron has not been problematic at all for me.

Mike feel like framing your comment "The Itron has not been problematic at all for me."  the 3kw limit on off-grid sound fine as I do not really foresee me going of-grid accept if I run into legal or Zumation troubles later.

I think the time to order my Infini 3kw+ from Mustek is now!!

 

 

 

   

 

 

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1 hour ago, Green Bum said:

superdiy I assume the "bundled SolarPower software you use to configure and monitor the inverter with " that you refer to is additional to the software that comes with the inverter. As mentioned a computer needs to make my life easier not more difficult. I hope the original software will at least be able to give me a reliable 100km/h over a long distance.......? The peak load you mention of up to 8kw (spike) and layman's 60w float consumption is also great news!The Itron has not been problematic at all for me.

Mike feel like framing your comment "The Itron has not been problematic at all for me."  the 3kw limit on off-grid sound fine as I do not really foresee me going of-grid accept if I run into legal or Zumation troubles later.

I think the time to order my Infini 3kw+ from Mustek is now!!

The bundled software is called SolarPower - not the best, but working.

Mike is an installer and has successfully completed many installations using different components. What he meant by "The Itron has not been problematic at all for me." is that he has installed infinis for clients with Itron meters without any problems.

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Now over to the next step where to buy?

On bonanzatech internet website they offer the green Infini 3kwPlus for R18k

BUT

under the Renesolar brand they also offer the Infini 3kw Plus marked Replus for 14k, according to me and Carl the cheapie is produced by Voltronics and the exact same spec's as the green Infini. Question is why pay 4k more for the same thing?

As always feedback appreciated!

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As far as I know both the Infini and Axpert inverter ranges are made by Voltronic. See their website here: http://www.voltronicpower.com

Cheapest price I've seen on the 3kW+ was R18k on ComX. If true, the R14k sounds like a real bargain!

Ps. can you post a link to the Replus? The only Replus I could find (on rectifier.co.za) does not look like an Infini at all.

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Ok, so to get back to point 1.

What I have found was that even when the "Export to Grid" is switched off, the inverter still feed back a small amount of power to the grid.

If this is to detect if the grid is alive, I am not sure.

Under Parameter settings there is a heading for "Feeding grid Power Callibration". Normally this is Zero, but I have mine now set at 85W. Now my pre-paid meter is not tripping anymore :)

 

For the price this is still the most flexable system money can buy!!!

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3 minutes ago, Wetkit said:

Ok, so to get back to point 1.

What I have found was that even when the "Export to Grid" is switched off, the inverter still feed back a small amount of power to the grid.

If this is to detect if the grid is alive, I am not sure.

Under Parameter settings there is a heading for "Feeding grid Power Callibration". Normally this is Zero, but I have mine now set at 85W. Now my pre-paid meter is not tripping anymore :)

 

For the price this is still the most flexable system money can buy!!!

I think it is exactly that - the calibration option on your inverter had to be adjusted until it does not feed back at all.;) It is the same with the battery voltage calibration - you have the option to fine-tune it.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2016/04/20 at 8:24 AM, Wetkit said:

If this is to detect if the grid is alive, I am not sure.

Replying to a really old post here, but I thought about this recently, once again in connection with anti-islanding. Anti-islanding methods all have a NDZ (Non-detection zone), that is conditions in which things are so precisely balanced that if the grid were to fall away at that moment you won't notice it. Anti-islanding depend on a change in voltage, frequency, or a change in the rate of change of frequency (ie second derivative). When you have it balanced so that the current at the meter is exactly zero, disconnecting the grid might go unnoticed. I would think that it is therefore actually a good thing if you deliberately get it a little wrong, in other words, to operate outside the NDZ on purpose :-)

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Things might be a little different in South Africa, but surely if the grid drops off, you will have the load of at least a dozen other customers, most of whom don't have finely balanced sources of energy, so you'd always notice it. Of course, as penetration of solar and batteries goes past 50%, you might end up forming a microgrid island. But I don't think there are many places like that yet.

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6 hours ago, Coulomb said:

Things might be a little different in South Africa, but surely if the grid drops off, you will have the load of at least a dozen other customers, most of whom don't have finely balanced sources of energy, so you'd always notice it. Of course, as penetration of solar and batteries goes past 50%, you might end up forming a microgrid island. But I don't think there are many places like that yet.

There is this hypothetical situation where a backhoe operator manages to cleanly sever the cable to your house (causing no shorts) while your anti-islanding is in the NDZ. When they council-electrician comes to reconnect the wires... you electrocute him :-)

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Would most grid tied systems not pick up this situation with active impedance monitoring? Inject a current and measure the resultant change in grid voltage.

It would, but I'm wondering if a slightly off-kilter limiter doesn't serve the same purpose :-)

Sent from my GT-I9195 using Tapatalk

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On 4/19/2016 at 9:55 PM, cvzyl said:

 

Doesn't make sense that they list the two items at such different prices right next to each other?

zoThHEy.jpg

 

Is there someone that bought the Replus make and can tel me if there is a difference in these two Infini's . I would like to buy one

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