How to Solar Power Your Home / House #1 – On Grid vs Off Grid

Yeah, hello, everyone and welcome to this series we’re going to talk about how to power your home or house from solar power. Now, first of all, i have to say thanks very much to xodar who are sponsoring this series, as you have known, if you followed any other of my videos, David of X earlier and his company, kindly donated all his time to install solar power of my house And what I like about, XLR and and the companies that for one that have a great choice and variety in terms of products and brands, David himself like me, enjoys tinkering and finding solutions to problems. So he enjoys very much getting involved in the technology and making it work well. So I certainly appreciate the input now today, what I’m going to do. This whole series is going to cover off from deciding whether you want an onboard system and off-grid system.

The types of solar panels where to have a charge, controller or a grid tie inverter or micro inverters battery bank. The solar panels that cost involved isn’t worth that. The complications of doing this in south africa vs somewhere, like Europe or the states so they’re, going to be quite a few few videos covering that off and what I ask you is that, as I start, these videos start posting your comments and questions as we go Along and armor training corporate there’s into the videos as they go along by all means if the video series has been completed or something has been cut off and you slap a question post a comment and I’ll do my best to answer for you and it’s worth Posting a video on it. I will do what we’re going to start today, though, it is getting understanding all on grid. This is off grid, but before I walk you through this little picture and and discuss on grid vs off grid and what the grid is – and let me just show you some of the equipment so that you are familiar with what I’m talking about when I shade This diagram and then we’ll get down and explain it.

Ok. So, let’s start off by looking at these solar panels, we are going to talk about these in detail later on. A narwhal might even refer you to some other videos that up. Maybe I talk about the performance of the different types of solar panels under different conditions. So the one thing to note that today you can get cheaper panels from china and what have you?

But you want to be aware that if you do want to use your panels with high voltage systems, which is something we’ll talk about, you have to consider the quality, the build quality and how they put together. And that’s something we’ll talk about in terms of the gaps with the connectors, we’re also going to talk about monocrystalline. This is poly, crystalline and amorphous and which seemed to perform better under what conditions. This is an MPPT charge controller. So it’s a maximum power point tracking charge controller, and this device is something our point out which is especially useful in off-grid systems, as it takes the power from the solar panels.

It converts it does a dcd to DC conversion service at the right voltage for your battery bank to charge a set of batteries. This can’t supply power directly to your house and that’s why this particular unit is more unit, is more useful in off-grid systems, but we’ll have a look that when we come to the actual diagram itself right, so here we have the grid tie inverter. This inverter takes the solar power directly from the solar panels and converts it to your mains electricity to feed your house directly or even to feed back onto the grid. So this this unit here is the grid tie inverter, and this is a normal inverter. So this doesn’t take power directly from the solar panels per se.

It can be fit from this. We can pick up energy from the grid tie and it can use it, but this is used to take power from a battery bank and convert that to a sea parte y or how so it can also charge the actual battery bank itself, and I just show You down here, I’ve got a large Bank of lead crystal batteries. I’Ve been doing research into different battery technology to find what is best and our decides to go. They Bank of lead crystal batteries, but these are the components again they’ll be talking about in that diagram. To that, so we get an understanding of how that all worked together right here we have an energy monitor now.

The one reason i bring up the energy monitor is that one of the important things to understand when you are going to or considering adding solar power to our house, you need to understand. You need to scope and size the requirement of your energy source, and to do that, you need to understand how much energy using you can, of course, have a look to a monthly bowl, but ultimately, what we want to do in the series, as well as have A look at the different monitoring equipment to either measure your household plat power, all the individual power requirements for each of your appliances. Are we going through the ways that you can do that with the different types of modern monitors and measuring equipment? Now the other thing that will also be talking about in the system, particularly when it comes to understanding the solar energy in South African context, is the prepaid meter. The different type of energy meters at your power company can provide you with and the potential challenges that they can pose.

So this is off see the power company energy meter. This is a battery monitor and a lot of this equipment. What i will do for the more advanced people as i’m, going to go into individual tutorials on how on how these work and how you can configure them, because these have lots of configuration parameters to make them work properly, so that you can monitor your your installation Correctly right, one of the other things we will be talking about is how to make your house run more efficiently, because the more efficient you make your house run the less power you need from your solar system, which is going to tends to be expensive. So here what I’ve done in our house, this is that kitchen. We used to have a set of big fluorescent tubes, which threw up a lot of energy, and these are LED tubes now that these only use a third of the power that an all set of fluorescent tubes use.

But there are some downsides that need to be considered with LED lighting of this kind. I have a LED lighting and in my house, and i’m sure i’ll walk you through that and try and show you when LED lighting is appropriate or not, and also cfl lighting. As well, we also then have a look at different monitoring software to understand how were your solar rays actually performing. I monitor my cell array just because I’m entry to understand what daily power I’m getting from my solar array out of interest. I’Ve got a 82 2250.

What array on the roof and at the moment, at the beginning of spring, if I have a a full day of sun i’ll, get about 12.8 kilowatt hours out of that array on a bad day yesterday we had a day when it was overcast and raining. I still managed to get about 6.8 kilowatt hours out of it, so this is something which to understand to understand how well your system is going to perform at different times of the year. So again, at this assist you with sizing your rate cater for whether you want to actually generate money from your system or just power, your house, and to understand: can you power your house and they’re cloudy conditions and how will perform under winter?

Ok. So let’s get down and have a look at the the first set of basic things to understand, and that is an onboard system versus off-grid system. So let’s have a look at a typical on grid system and the components and potentially have it all hang together. So, first of all, when we talk about on grid we’re talking, the grid would be your electrical power company or in the case of south africa with say, is calm because we have a national power company. There is no competition, it’s just one supplier, but the grid feed.

Basically, the electricity feed which comes into your house as AC power and that can be in the states will be a hundred and ten volts or inside baskets 20 or in in the UK, is 240. So that is your main grid feed into your house now to get solar power on to all grid-connected house. You could then have a solar panel which is installed on your roof or on your property somewhere. It can then feed a grid tie. Inverter now remember.

I pointed out that grid tie inverter what they’re great time voted. Does it takes the direct current DC power that comes from your solar panel and it directly converts it to AC power, which can directly power your house now? This is probably one of the cheapest and most efficient ways of having a system power you’re using solar power to power your house, the other option, is to use, as i pointed out, that MPPT charge controller. You could have that these dotted lines. I’Ve got going to a that.

What I’ve noted use a flex max, which is that the model of the charge controller i have so it could feed a charge controller, which then charges a banker batteries that bank of batteries would then have to go through a separate, big inverter, which, if you remember, I also pointed that, and that would then convert that to AC power to power your house now, what’s the problem with this system for one you gave every time you go through a device like a and an inverter or through a set of batteries, you’re going to Have losses which are going to make your your system or inefficient? So in this case, if you didn’t have the good time vert and you went, went through your your charge, charge controller, you began through there, you would have losses over here. You then putting power into battery which has resistance and losses when you put it in at then has to come out of that battery their losses through another inverter, their losses before it go into an feed your house. Now these systems, in terms of using batteries for the most part, if you don’t need you, don’t want to use batteries because they cost a lot of money. You can, after replace them every couple of every three to five years and issued by really expensive bank of batteries, which can last 15 to 20 years.

You want batteries. If you, you want to cater for a power outage from the grid. So if the grid fails, then you have a backup source to power house when there’s no grid. Now in South Africa we have an aging grid Network which hasn’t been maintained. So that’s one reason why i installed the a bank of batteries to cover for outages also because at this point in time, because i cannot feed back onto the grid, I want to make the most use out of the solar power which is coming, which is installed On my house, our household during the day probably uses takes too long on average at about 800 2000 watts, but I’ve got 2,200 what’s installed on our roof, so that can be hand because on a cloudy day, even if there’s a drop in the power of the Roof, I can still run my house, but I’m then losing honest bright sunny day, I’m losing the potential of all that power, because i cannot feed it back to the Griffin and gain credit for it.

So what I do is I charge I go through. A grid tie inverter, which is far more efficient than going through a charge controllers that directly goes through the grid, tie inverter and feeds my house. Any excess power is in pulled through the bigger inverter and charge. The bank of batteries that means at night time. I can then use that excess power charge stored up in the batteries and feed that back into the house at night.

So i’m not using the grid and again, when the morning comes, I then use that excess power to recharge the battery bank. That, as I said, that’s expensive, you can get away and reduce the cost cost of your system by literally just having a big bank of solar panels and a great time vertor and for the most part in the States and Europe. Those are the types of systems that they use and I’m her foot refer you to a link of one of my viewers, called Matt he’s just installed a five point, two kilowatt around his house and it’s a wonderful production. He does some aerial photography and I, if you’re interested, do, go and have a look, because it really is a nice installation. But what I want to point out is Matt makes use of another technology, which is quite interesting.

You can see. I’Ve got a note about micro inverters. Now what you can do. I have one grid tie inverter for a whole Bank of nine solar panels. Those solar panels have to be our connect had to be carefully connected so that they they they push the path through to the good verte inverter in the most efficient way, so that you maximize the power coming off them.

They are connected in series, so it means if any one of those panels is shaded or is not ultimately pointed to the Sun. It can draw down the power of the whole Bank of solar panels. Now that is something I you. You have to be careful with. With installation and something after live with, because for one we don’t we don’t here in South Africa, have a big market of micro inverters, but on Matt’s installation you can have.

He has one small inverter / solar panel, and that means you get the maximum efficiency from each and every solar panel and if you have a problem with either one solar panel or in fact, if you have a failure on my system of the single grid, tie Everything goes down. If you have a micro inverter on each and every solar panel, you can still have a failure and have the whole the rest of your rate up and working, but just the one side panel or inverter will be down. So, let’s just talk about feeding back onto the grid in our deal situation, what you want to do with your excess power as opposed to trying to pump it into a battery bank, you want to feed it back to the grid so that you can great gain Credit or even and money back from your power company for doing that and for the most part in Australia in Europe and the US you can do that here in South Africa. Unfortunately we’re a bit behind the times. We are playing catch-up, it’s about to happen.

Their battle, bringing this thing called net metering, which is what their you do is. The meter is a meter to understand what you use and what you feedback. In some cases, no money exchanges hands. You just gain credit for to push back and then at night, for instance, you use that. Could you pull back off the grid and use that credit that you had the best way to look at that is to try and understand how that will work over a year, because, obviously you have to account for winter, and you may generate a lot more power And summer and then be pulling back more during the winter months, and so you need to try and size your array appropriately.

If that’s what you want to do in South Africa, we have these prepaid meters. So at the moment we have to have an intelligence system that disconnects the grid. When I have access pass, that doesn’t feedback and that i use it internally in the house there are we what we can go into a discussion on how to intelligent to use that power, whether it’s pushing into the back to bank or intelligent load diversion by low Diversion I mean switching your low to either heat up your geezer with the excess power or switch on your pool pump when you’ve got the excess power so that you don’t waste any of your excess energy from your solar panel right. So, let’s now look have a look at it off the grid system now, certainly in South Africa. This is probably at this point in time, one of the areas where people are willing to spend money on fault photovoltaic power.

Generally speaking, if you have, if you have a farm or a holiday cottage, which is off the beaten track in the mountains, and it’s going to cost a lot of money to bring the grid to your house, it’s far more cost-efficient then bring in a system a A solar power system, which can solar power, your house independently, now in the on the grid system, one does want to be careful and calculate. If you really want to power your house as much as you can you need to carefully calculate what your power requirement is, but sometimes it’s not that critical. If you get to have the grid connected, because you can always get power for grid, you can always increase your power requirement over time. As you have money, but in off the grid system, you need to have enough power to power the house entirely because there is no grid. So that’s what you need to understand calculate the power requirement of your lighting, any heating, cooking entertainment systems and try and make them run as efficiently as possible.

The infinite the potential efficiencies that you gain in the house will say it will save you money three times over and the reason for that is that any extra power you need needs to be k, cated for potentially in more solar panels, potentially in a bigger inverter Or charge controller and then a larger battery bank. So that’s why it’s far cheaper to make your house run more efficiently that have to spend the extra money in three extra places to provide the extra power for your house now in off the grid system. One can potentially operate far more efficiently, foremost grid connected systems. You have to cater for appliances that are running at 220, volts or mains and, as I said each time you start going through a charge, controller or batteries or an inverter. You start losing efficiency and off the grid system in an ideal world.

What you want to do is have your solar panel bringing your your your power. You go through your charge, controller, which you need to do, because you need to control the amount of charge which goes into your battery bank. An MPPT charge controller makes the collection of power of your solar panel far more efficient. I have a video which explains in ppt which I’ll link to over here, but once you’ve got the power coming into your battery. You potentially have the option in and off the grid system, to try and run as match of the household off.

Let’S say at 12 or 24, volt, 40 volts or 48 volt system, for instance, if you have a 12-volt system, you could potentially power you’re down lighters and lighting directly from that 12 volt. That means is no inverting. It means it’s a far more efficient use of the power coming from your your power source of the battery bank. Of course, you may have to introduce an inverter as I’ve got here so that you might be able to partially round some things of 12 volt. But then you also might have some appliances or entertainment systems which need mains voltage either 110 or 220 and then you’ll.

Take those through an inverter and into your house, so that’s an off-the-grid system where you don’t have the grid, feeding your house right side. I do hope that kind of gives a good start or introduction into solar power and in terms of showing the different some of the different components and off-grid vs on grid. There’S lots more to discuss and a lot of the questions which have imposed to me. So far, and particularly in for the south african market is, is it financially viable going this route at the moment and what I plan to do is I’m really trying to do some calculations to show what systems could potentially be fired, viable at the moment in South Africa, the one thing for me that is quite important, is at the moment people need to realize it. Over the last four years since 2008, our electricity prices are probably doubled, they’re going to double again with them, the next three to five years.

We also have the issue: that’s not enough. Money has been invested on on our pirate and I think, potentially, the same might be from what I hear the state’s might even suffer from the same problem. They have an aging good as well. Now, if you do have those issues that potentially you’re going to have more power outages and then the the financial viability might seriously by be that way, nikon inconvenience – if you don’t have electricity in South Africa, we’ve got a tiered system for what you pay for electricity. So if you use less electricity, the number of kilowatt-hours you use per month become cheaper as you step up and start using about more than a hundred and 50 kilowatt hours, which of course, most families wouldn’t would be using more like six hundred two thousand kilowatt hours, Plus, once you start bringing your your keyboard usage below those certain thresholds, you stop paying a lot less per kilowatt hour, so my goal for my system was to get below 600 kilowatt hours.

I was easily using a thousand kilowatt hours, eight hundred thousand kilowatt hours and I bring mind below 600 Lord hours. I suddenly save a lot more money, so we’re going to go to a discussion about that. We also potentially, where it becomes more viable, particular folks in Europe and the states is that you get rebates for your systems in South Africa. We don’t so. As I said, please do post your questions.

They were going to cover of things like power factor. Someone raised a very interesting point about power factor. Normally, power factor is something you don’t have to worry about in a private residence, because path factor isn’t measured by your metering system and the. If you have a bad path back to your house, it is the electricity company that takes a knock, that’s different for big industry. However, if you’re generating you our own power, does power factor play a part and potentially it does and that’s something we’ll investigate.

So it’s they stop posting comments about the questions that you might have would like to see answered and i’ll certainly be going too far more detail, all the individual components to show what part that play and the different options and pros and cons of each each of Them anywhere, thank you very much for following the series. If you do want to follow them, then certainly do subscribe. What does help is, if you do give a thumbs up and write the videos and share them on your Twitter or Facebook feeds thanks very much for watching yeah

Read More: How Much Power Does A 5kW Solar System Produce?

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