Off Grid Test

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Sunergy has been installing off-grid and RV solar solutions since 2010.  We only use quality inverters, solar charge controllers and batteries.  Why?  Because power is an essential service.

The brands we use have stood the test of time:

Selectronic SP Pro is an Australian made multi-mode battery inverter/charger.  Surge capacity is 2.4 x the continuous rating.  The warranty is 10-years.

The Selectronic SP Pro has excellent reliability and capability, including single, two and three-phase systems up to 240kW.  They can be DC or AC coupled or a mix of both.  If Ac coupled, the maximum PV is 2 x the continuous rating of the SP Pro.  Sunergy is a Selectronic Accredited System Integrator.

Victron is our other preferred brand of multi-mode battery inverter-chargers.  They also manufacture solar charge controllers, batteries and an extensive range of accessories.

Victron is manufactured in China, India and Malaysia and is at a lower price point than Selectronic.  Victron products are reliable with a 5-year return to base warranty.  Surge capacity is 2x the continuous rating.  Victron systems can be single, two or three-phase and are highly scalable with solutions for anything from RVs to large scale industrial-sized systems.  Victron can be DC or AC coupled or a mix of both; if AC coupled, the maximum PV is the continuous rating of the inverter.  Sunergy is an accredited Victron Professional and a Victron Dealer.

Powerplus Energy manufacture (LiFePO4) batteries in Australia.  Again these have stood the test of time.  They have various models including 24V, 48V and 120V and can scale up to 80kWh.  What makes them special is:

  • They are "unmanaged" which means no comms links to fail.  This is a biggy when compared to many other lithium solutions on the market where a bit of dust in an RJ11 connector will send your whole system into the dark ages.
  • They have a wide operating temperature range.  Compared to much of the competition, they still accept charge in colder temperatures and deliver power at hotter temperatures.  That's pretty handy in the central Victorian climate...
  • Fantastic Australian based support.

We've been using Powerplus now for four years with zero issues.  They have a 10-year warranty.

 

Zenaji Aeon & Zenaji Eternity are Australian manufactured Lithium Titanate batteries.  These promise a very large number of cycles (22,000) and come with a 20-year warranty.  They have a very wide operating temperature range and can be discharged to 100% of their capacity.  Zenaji batteries are unmanaged to ensure reliability.

Lead acid-based batteries are the traditional storage medium for off-grid systems.  There is nothing wrong with this technology and for people looking for reliability and proven technology, it's still worth considering.  Especially if budget constraints apply. 

The brands of lead-acid style batteries we use are:

  • Exide Energystore:  These are flooded lead-acid batteries.  They're at a good price point and will last years if maintained.  Made in Australia from German made plates.
  • Exide Energystore Gel:  A gel-based lead-acid battery which means you don't have to fret about topping them up with water.  Made in UAE.
  • Sonnenschein Gel:  A German made gel-based lead-acid battery.  Heavy plates mean strong durability if charged correctly.
  • Nerada Lead Carbon:  Lead carbon batteries are resistant to sulphation that is common in batteries that aren't fully charged frequently.  Made in China.
  • Victron:  Victron manufactures a range of 12V AGM, super AGM, gel, lead carbon and lithium batteries suitable for RV and small off-grid system applications.

 

Solar panels for off-grid:   We carefully select panels which have proven low light performance and high-temperature tolerance.  And reliability!

Why?  Because you need high-performance panels to ensure the best battery charging possible, especially on gloomy winters days and on stinking hot overcast summer ones.

The brands we recommend for off-grid are:

  • LG Solar: Korean made with a 25-year product warranty and proven performance.  Sunergy is an approved LG installer.
  • REC:   A bit more economical than LG and made in Singapore.  25-year warranty if installed by a REC approved installer (which Sunergy is).  The performance of REC panels is awesome.
  • Canadian Solar:   Made in China and a reasonable budget option.  These are pretty heavy though.  25-year warranty.
  • Trina Solar:   Made in China and a good budget option.  These are lighter than Canadians and have a proven track record of backing their warranties rather than running away and/or victim-blaming or gaslighting.  15-year warranty.

 

Accreditations:  Sunergy is a Selectronic Accredited System Integrator and Victron Professional and Victron Dealer.  We are proud of these accreditations which are a testament to our knowledge and skills with these world-class products.  Our staff include CEC accredited off-grid designers and installers, A-grade electricians.  Sunergy is a Registered Electrical Contractor.

What we do:  Whether it's a caravan, boat, shed, shack, full-sized home or even a remote cattle station, we will work with you to design a professional solution to meet your power and budget needs.

Want to see the quality of some of our work?:  Click here

We've written a free Off-Grid Solar Guide: Click here 

Off-Grid Process:

Step 1 - Load Profile:  When considering off-grid, you are in essence building a power station.  In order to get this right, we need a specification of what the power station needs to be capable of.  Our experienced and accredited off-grid designers spend time with you understanding in detail what appliances you are looking to power.  We drill down into the time of day of usage and seasonal variations.  By knowing the time of day, we can design your system to run the appliance from the sun.  If at night, it will need to come from your battery bank or a generator.

The load profile usually takes 1-2 days of our time to get right.  Along the way, you'll also get advice from our years of experience on appliance selection and how to do things such as hot water (solar may not be the best answer); black water treatment - which solution(s) are off-grid friendly; heating and cooling - a couple of split systems may be more off-grid friendly than a ducted system etc.       

Step 2 - Site Assessment:  Where feasible, we will visit your site to determine locations for equipment, shade, roof sizes etc.  For new builds or remote sites, we work from site plans and aerial images.

Step 3 - Design:  Now we know your energy requirements and site details, we develop a system design.  We use specialist design software from the USA, we determine how much solar, battery and generator capacity you need to reliably meet your power and budget requirements.  Where compromises are needed to meet your budget, we walk you through the options and provide clear advice as to what that means.  As an example, if your budget means less solar or less battery than "perfect", we calculate what that means in terms of additional generator run time by month and additional fuel cost.  

Step 4 - Build:  We pre-build, configure and program systems in our workshop; this allows quick and easy installation with reduced time on site.  We also pre-build systems for quick and easy installation by others.  Take a look at some of our standard solutions here.  

Step 5 - Install:  We offer complete installation by our accredited and qualified staff.  Or if you choose, you can purchase a pre-built system and have it installed by others.

Step 6 - Service & Monitoring:  We can include internet monitoring and remote support capability on our systems.  Remote support in particular reduces the cost of ownership by saving on call out and travel costs in many cases.  We also offer system servicing and maintenance.

Engagement Process:  Off-grid design takes time and effort from both you and the designer.  Doing an accurate load profile can easily take a day of effort on the designer's part to get right.  As an example, saying "I've got lights, a TV and a fridge" provides nowhere near enough clarity.  What lights?  If they're incandescent, that means anything up to 10x the power required to run LEDs (and those have at least 4 variations in consumption).  What fridge?  A new energy-efficient family sized fridge will typically use 1/5th the power of a bar fridge even though the bar fridge is tiny by comparison.  Which TV?  Plasma uses more than LCD which uses more than LED and etc.  The size of your TV is no guide. 

We drill down into this detail and whenever possible, get the actual power consumption for your exact appliance make and model.

Yes, we've seen people who think a load assessment can be pulled out of thin air in a minute or two followed by a "she'll be right mate" wet finger in the air design.  If the load profile is wrong, nothing else can possibly be right.

The reality is getting the load profile right is critical to the difference between happiness and guaranteed future misery.

We get calls all the time from people who have been sold a pup.  Fixing the mess is expensive, more so if no name brand equipment was purchased from eBay.  Ironically fixing the mess means starting with a load profile followed by a design.  Getting it wrong means paying twice.

To avoid this pain, Sunergy charges a design fee of $330 (inc GST).  For this, you get a load profile (valued at $880 if we were to charge for our time at normal rates) and two designs each with one iteration (valued at $660).  The total value of this service is $1540.  The service is provided by one of our accredited off-grid designers with 10+ years of experience. 

The design fee is fully refundable if you go ahead with a system from Sunergy.  If you don't go ahead with Sunergy, you have a professionally prepared design and specification you can use to get quotes from others.