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I finally took the plunge. O yes, howzit!


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So, for years I’ve been planning on going solar but I never really spent the time to investigate it properly. Both the missus and I work from home and with the latest spate of load shedding I just had enough and bit the bullet.

After much research (and poaching ideas from here), I had a solution in mind. I knew my budget wouldn’t be enough, but I had to start somewhere and get a semi decent system installed, get an idea how it works and then decide where to upgrade once the system has been running for a while. In terms of the components, I had a lot of help from the guy that supplied the kit (he ultimately needs to do the CoC when complete) and I really wanted the result to be correct.

For a start, I got the Goodwe 5048ES inverter, 2 * Pylon US2000’s and 8 * 405w JA Mono’s. My plan is to add another 2 * US2000’s and 8 more panels; I’m still undecided what to get first. Anyway...

I knew my current DB board wasn’t ideal for this process, so I tackled that first.

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As you can see, the breakers were old and there was simply just not enough space to fit everything. Luckily, this is inside one of the kitchen cupboards, so I can fit a bigger, surface mount DB board and it won’t be an eye sore being behind cupboard doors.

First up, I had to figure out what went were and with what. I had to figure out which lives go with which neutrals as these had to be split into essentials and non-essentials.


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Yeah, eina. Clearly the wiring wasn’t going to be long enough, so this had to be extended using crimp ferrules and heat shrink. At least I now know where all the circuits go and how to split them properly (lives and neutrals together)

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And so the fun begins. This took a while...

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Almost done...

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Tadaaa... This is where I’m at. I still need to split some circuits (like garage and aircon circuits), but that’ll be soon.

 

As for mounting the inverter, I was really lucky (for once) that the broom cupboard is right next to the DB board. My dear wife had to go find another place to go park her broom...

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Aaaaand, done!

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The door for that cupboard still needs to be modified. I’m going to get some nice punched and brushed alu grid that’ll replace the wood panels in the door. Obviously I don’t want to just close it up as that inverter is fanless and needs to breathe. That being said, it hardly got warm over the last two weeks, but I’d rather be safe, keep said wife less upset and to keep curious fingers at bay.

 

Edited by gbyleveldt
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Next up was the part that I truly dreaded. I’m blessed with being both OCD and lazy, this hardly makes for a good combination. Instead of doing the responsible thing and pay someone to fit the panels on the roof, I decided I’ll give it a go myself. Kak idea, but being a Scrooge I got what was coming to me. Read on...

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So I got the rails mounted on the roof. By myself. Notice the bent gutter? Well that is what happens when you tighten the last bolt, having been up and down the ladder about 50 times and getting complacent and gatvol. As I was saying, I was up on the extension ladder, tightening the last bolt when the ladder decided to stop being a ladder. That gutter valiantly tried to support my weight as the ladder disappeared from under me, but ultimately lost. After gather my wits from the event (ok, ok, I cried a little), I tried to panelbeat the gutter a little but I suspect it’ll have to be replaced. It did look a lot worse...

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Well it’s not pretty, but it works.

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As for as the system performance goes, I’m pretty surprised. The panels are rated at 3240w in total; I’ve seen real numbers of just a hair under 3100w a few times around noon. I wasn’t expecting that kind of efficiency to be honest. I’m seriously re-considering if it’s worth adding another 8 panels as there’s already a fair amount of excess power available after the batteries are charged. I’ll probably end up doing it, as I suspect rainy and overcast days will hurt. The panels are actually the cheapest part of such a system, so it’s not like I’ll be wasting money.

Batteries? Huh, I guess you can never have enough. The more I think about it, that’s where I’m going to spend next. It’s gonna hurt, but it’ll help me deal with “capacity anxiety” when there’s load shedding at night.
 

Speaking of which, we had a double dose of it yesterday. During the day the whole house ran without missing a beat. Our cleaning lady even vacuumed the whole house and finished the ironing, all the while not needing to be bothered by the fact that there was load shedding. The second test of the system came at night, 3 hrs after the days’ load shedding ended, with another 3 hour session of load shedding at night. Not knowing what the system was capable of, I turned off most of the lights and the two freezers. And constantly (annoyingly was the words my wife used) checking the battery capacity. I had no idea how long this unscheduled session will last, and didn’t want the system to trip (with all the IT stuff running). Turns out I was stressing for no reason, as with our night time consumption the battery used 40% of charge for the 3 hours the power was out. I would like to have more of a buffer though, and not have to unplug freezers and swearing at the kids when they play Xbox. If I double the capacity as I originally planned for I’m confident we will be ok for most routine load sheds, with a safety net for unplanned ones as well.

Edited by gbyleveldt
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Nice install. I like the new shape gutter that you have :) 

You will find that load shedding is not THAT often, so don't stress about it. You should have enough to cover the essential through that 2h.

My suggestion would be to get a 3rd US2000. 3x US2000 or 2x US3000 is a good combination with a 5k inverter. 

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2 hours ago, plonkster said:

Did the wife then also tell you that really, you should maybe have used a professional? 🙂

 

She may or may not have said that, I wouldn’t know. She’s currently on my ignore list since said incident. I felt a little hurt when she didn’t rush to help me, but rather burst out in fits of laughter.

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Sooo, I decided to get two more batteries and 8 more panels. Now I’m pretty much done spending money going down this rabbit hole...

Anyway, I got the two additional batteries installed and managed to find a ventilation solution that’ll work while retaining the cupboard door. I’m just waiting for more panel hardware then I can get the additional panels installed on the roof.

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As I mentioned elsewhere, the battery stack is still running in backup mode (only charging/float mode, no discharging) in order for the packs to balance out with each other. After a day or so, all lights started flashing/displaying in sync. I’ll let it go for another day or so to make sure they settled nicely.

In other news, I’ve been having a ball with getting the home integration going as well. Just basic for now, running Home Assistant, but I’ve got all the nice Sonoff light switches here, waiting for the electrician to pull in Neutrals to all the light switches in the house. In testing, I already have all outside lights, gates and garage door integrated. My wife thinks I’m a nerd...

Edited by gbyleveldt
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13 hours ago, gbyleveldt said:

Sooo, I decided to get two more batteries and 8 more panels. Now I’m pretty much done spending money going down this rabbit hole...

Anyway, I got the two additional batteries installed and managed to find a ventilation solution that’ll work while retaining the cupboard door. I’m just waiting for more panel hardware then I can get the additional panels installed on the roof.

A09F5116-E382-486F-B1F1-1F8B9E0FD4BF.thumb.jpeg.8e907f456c31f4db56ed8bf5743631dc.jpeg
 

19A2ED37-E273-4327-B454-1E46393DE0E7.thumb.jpeg.c60a56a55c18b5e390cab74302eec946.jpeg

 

As I mentioned elsewhere, the battery stack is still running in backup mode (only charging/float mode, no discharging) in order for the packs to balance out with each other. After a day or so, all lights started flashing/displaying in sync. I’ll let it go for another day or so to make sure they settled nicely.

In other news, I’ve been having a ball with getting the home integration going as well. Just basic for now, running Home Assistant, but I’ve got all the nice Sonoff light switches here, waiting for the electrician to pull in Neutrals to all the light switches in the house. In testing, I already have all outside lights, gates and garage door integrated. My wife thinks I’m a nerd...

 

Nice, love the setup!

The Home Assistant setup can be a whole rabbit hole on it's own. This is my current HA Dashboard: 

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Got Sonoffs on a lot of the lights. But planning to extend that to every light in the house being on a Sonos or Sonos Mini. But as you found out, neutrals need to be there. 

Got my Pool pump on automation as well. When PV is greater than 1600w - the pump comes on. 

 

Have fun playing and tweaking with the system! 

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Was about to say the same.  I also started off with only wanting to add a couple of lights to home assistant.  Ended up with the following connected to home assistant:

  • All lights
  • Pool pump - Linked to solar production
  • 2x Geysers - The guest geyser is linked to solar production and tracks if there are guests (if we have guests then it will re-heat a second time)
  • AV receivers
  • TV's
  • Irrigation system
  • Garage doors
  • Aircons (scheduled to only turn on based on the room conditions and if somebody is at home)
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9 hours ago, Rclegg said:

 

Nice, love the setup!

The Home Assistant setup can be a whole rabbit hole on it's own. This is my current HA Dashboard: 

687241564_Screenshot2020-08-24at11_14_41.thumb.png.a1375c633f5b3089b23bd4a325fde71c.png

 

Got Sonoffs on a lot of the lights. But planning to extend that to every light in the house being on a Sonos or Sonos Mini. But as you found out, neutrals need to be there. 

Got my Pool pump on automation as well. When PV is greater than 1600w - the pump comes on. 

 

Have fun playing and tweaking with the system! 

Oh wow, that UI makes my knees weak! I’ve been looking at integrating the Goodwe inverter but when I read about web scrapers and mosquitos and other bugs, my eyes just glass over. I attempted to get my Paradox alarm integrated and, after getting verbal enough to make a sailor blush, I dramatically flung the WiFi thingamajig at the closed window. I’ll get there, I just develop a nervous tic when I have to learn something new “for entertainment”. I really am liking what you’ve done there though; it’s exactly what I’m after.

3 hours ago, Tim003 said:

Hi there, excellent job, can you please share the DB wiring diagram? What is the brand of your circuit breakers? 

I just want to finalize the drawings to ‘as built’ state then I’ll post it here for reference. I used the Schneider breakers - they were actually surprisingly cheap to be honest.

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Last 8 panels were put up last week, making it 16 * 405W JA solar panels in total. Maximum generation I've seen thus far is around 5.8kwh from solar. This generally happens in the mornings while the batteries are charging. Once charged the generation drops to 4.8kwh, which is what my inverter is rated for on the backup/non backup side.

I held off taking a pic till the gutter got replaced; that took a big chunk out of the savings I had by doing it myself. I suspect there's a lesson in there somewhere :)

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