Thursday, April 20, 2017

This is a simple introduction to help you decide what you need and how to do it.

Firstly there are two different types of set-ups Off Grid and On Grid. If you live remotely and want your own independent power source then you want an Off Grid set-up. If you have a house and are connected to the mains electricity grid then you probably want to use an On Grid set-up, unless you want to use solar to become independent from the grid and have your own power.

As the majority of our customers are off grid we will start with that.

Off Grid

Off grid set-ups allow you to live remotely whether it’s in a van, boat, or remote house you can generate your own power and live independently. The most important thing to start with is working out how much power you use or need. You need to consider your power as a valuable resource and design your power usage to be as efficient as possible. Or you can install a huge solar system to power a normal house with full appliances if you have the budget to do so. (GOAL ZERO SHERPA 100 KIT offers you portable power anytime and anywhere.)

So to start with you want to estimate your power usage and then work out the size of solar system that you might need. We have created a solar calculator for you to help do this, you simply add in each item that you use and how much power it uses and how long you use it for. Alternatively you can enter an estimation of morning, afternoon, evening usage.

Once you have decided on how much power you need then you can spec out the system that you need. The solar calculator will give you an indication of how much solar and battery power you might want to consider. Then next thing is to consider winter, if you have long dark winters like in the UK you need to consider how reliant you are on your power system, and if you want to add additional panels and batteries to allow for the days where there is very little sun. On a dark winters day you will see 10%-20% of your solar capacity, so you will want to add more panels and/or more batteries to allow for these periods, or consider having an additional renewable source such as wind or hydro or a back-up generator to run from time to time.

System Voltage

You will need to decide on what system voltage is best for you; this is the voltage that you want to run you battery bank at and all the various items that will be connected to it. You can use 12V, 24V or 48V.

If you have an existing 12V system like in a van or boat and use 12V equipment on it then you will want to stick with 12V. If you are wanting to only use 230V AC power then you should probably use 24V for a medium sized install (1Kw-5Kw) or 48V for a large install (2Kw – 15Kw+), the advantage of using a higher voltage battery bank is that is saves you money in the long run as you need less charge controllers and can use thinner cables for the same amount of power. Large off grid house's will use 48V.

So with all of that in mind then you have to decide on all the aspects of your solar set-up. We have built a system to help you design your solar system which will help you calculate what is needed. Or we have created various packages that we have already spec’ed out for you.

1) Solar Panels – This might come down to physical space that you have available or the amount of power you need or your budget. We offer a range of panels all at great prices for you to choose from. You will need to decide on how many Watts or Kilowatts of panels you need and choose the ones that fit you best.

2) Charge controller

Firstly you will need to calculate how many amps of charge controller you need. This is a simple calculation of Solar Panel Watts divided by Battery Voltage. Eg, if you have 1,400W of solar and a 24V battery bank then 1400W/24V = 58A so would want to use 60A of charge controllers.

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