Off Grid Systems
Climatecare Electrical & Solar specialise in Off- Grid & Remote Area Power systems and are Accreditited Installers of the world -class, Australian made, Selectronic, Multi-mode Inverters.
Is it Right for Me?
The idea of going “off the grid” is certainly appealing and one which gains momentum as the price of solar and batteries fall. The reality is that it’s not quite as simple as it sounds and for most people, an on-grid battery system or “Hybrid” will be the right choice. For others though, a grid connection is either not desirable or simply not feasible. If your dream property is more than 500m from the grid, an off-grid system might be the most practical solution.
How does it work?
Off Grid, Stand-alone Solar Power System / Stand-alone PV System / SPS / SAPS or RAPS (they all mean essentially the same thing), operate independent of the electricity grid and mainly used in remote areas where the utility grid is not available or if you would like to be independent of the utility grid.
- Energy is generated via solar panels, wind turbines, or other renewable energy source. The energy is then fed into a bank of specially designed batteries via a power conditioner such as a regulator or string inverter, to be stored for use when required.
- The power can then be used directly from the batteries with DC appliances, or converted to 240 volt alternating current AC electricity by a Multi-Mode Inverter/ Charger.
- The Multi-Mode Inverter/ Charger delivers 240 volt electricity, so normal household appliances such as washing machine, fridge, television etc can be used.
- A generator is often used to assist the system during times of low renewable input of high energy demand.
System sizes & costs
There are four factors you MUST consider. These are;
- Your budget – The size of the system is your choice but largely dictated by your usage profile.
- Availability of renewable energy (space for Solar panels, shading, wind speed for Turbines etc.)
- Location for the storage of the Battery Packs.
- Your Lifestyle and needs – Are you comfortable with gas cooking or will the SPS system need to be sized to allow for electric cooking? Will you want to use air conditioning? Will your budget allow for Solar Hot Water?
Systems are designed and measured in terms of 8 main factors.
- The generating capacity of the Renewable energy sources (kWH),
- Battery size (this has typically referred to system voltage & amp-hour capacity, however Lithium batteries tend to measure their capacity in kWh)
- Battery Technology – The chosen technology will depend on your personal preference, usage pattern and budget. We can offer, Lead Acid, Lead Carbon, Lithium, Ultra battery and Super Capacitors.
- Generator Type and Size. – The right type and size is important.
- Design Load (kWh / day/night). This is the amount of energy you will use each day.
- Peak Load (kW) – This is how much power the system will be expected to have available when many appliances are switched on at once.
- Surge Capacity – This is the brief yet high power demand placed on the system when inductive loads such as motors are switched on.
- Amount of Autonomy – This essentially means, how long can you run off the batteries if there was no renewable energy input.
What to consider
Reliability is the single most important factor when it comes to off-grid power. You don’t realise just how much we take electricity for granted until its not there. Even if you have a tight budget, its usually better to choose quality over quantity.
Its also vital that you choose your Off Grid provider carefully as you will be relying on them, particularly if this is your first time off-grid. You will want an installer who will answer the phone evenings and weekends if you have a situation that needs urgent attention.
A Stand Alone system isn’t as simple as adding batteries to a Grid Connect system, there is a lot of design work that goes into it and the quality of the installation is just as important as the equipment.
There are a lot of inexperienced people out there trying to offer Off-Grid systems without enough experience and expertise to ensure you get a good reliable system that suits your needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and photos of past work. Also be wary of companies offering “off the shelf” systems as they are unlikely to be suitable to your unique needs. A good Off-Grid system will be custom designed to your particular needs with the capability to expand and grow as your needs change.
Contact us for a no obligation consultation to discuss your options, recommended size of system and best outcome for your budget. Whether its a micro system just to run a bore pump or a large system to run a whole island community, we have done it all and have the right solution for you.
Whilst you can use a standard battery inverter and seperate battery charger, more common these days is an Inverter Charger, sometimes called a Multimode Inverter or Bi-Directional Inverter. An Inverter Charger not only converts battery power into mains power, it can also charge the batteries via a generator, AC Coupled solar or some other renewable input.
Without a doubt, the best Inverter Charger on the market is the Selectronic, SP Pro range. These Australian made units are robust, ultra reliable and feature rich. We have used SPPro everywhere from Caravans to Island Resorts and with 8 models to choose from there is a model to suit you. The smaller models are 24v and the larger models are 48v and 120v. Click on the Selectronic Logo to learn more about these awesome devices.
Victron make a huge range of renewable energy devices and their Inverters and Inverter Chargers are Top Shelf. They have a very wide range of models including 12v models ideal for caravans and boats.
Solar Charge Controllers
AC Coupled Inverters
With an AC Coupled Selectronic based system, it is essential to use Selectronic Certified String Inverters. These are regular Solar Inverters that have been modified by Selectronic to communicate with the SPPro MultiMode Inverter to allow the solar to throttle up and down in small increments depending on need. Solar Output can be ramped right down to 1 watt so you never miss out on any potential generation.
Other Multimode Inverters use a technology called Frequency Ramping to throttle the solar output which is an On/Off technology without the benefit of fine increments. We believe this “Smart” throttling offers the best performance.
A Key component of a good Off-Grid System is the back-up generator. A good quality Auto-Start generator will give you peace of mind and certainly of supply you need for trouble free operation of your SPS system.
Ideally the generator is hardwired and always on demand so the system can manage itself. If necessary we can program “Lockout” periods, – spaces of time during the day or night when the generator isnt allowed to operate.
We also routinely program in regular maintenance runs for generator so that it runs for a few hours every month to keep everything lubricated and ready to operate. You can source your own generator or purchase one from us. We have always found the Himoinsa range to be an excellent choice and have deployed them in some very remote places.
- Yanmar Engine
- Stamford Alternator
- Fully Bunded Belly Tank
- Openset or Acoustic canopy
- Water Cooled
- Built-in trickle charger for Ignition battery
- Quality Construction.