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PV Solar system-the craziest DIY project probable

  • 27-12-2015 5:55pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Hello,

    After few months of living with the green virus,I have finally decided to look in to the bank account and start making final enquires.

    I did the numbers and I made the RoI over 10 (ten) years period. I do realise and I'm aware that is not going to be fully financially attractive but I will enjoy switching the switch knowing that is free cost and no profit making companies are at the end of the wire. Cannot share the feeling last summer, when after installing 40 solar tubes we were able to make shower without hearing the combi boiler kicking in to heat the water...fascinating feelings.

    The house will be rewired and only the cooker will be left directly connected to rid, while all other outlets will go trough the PV output.
    Panels will face south side most of the time but in winter, I may have to settle on maybe back garden with only half output. But, that will be compensated with low temperature...
    Batteries and all switching/inverting equipment will be housed in to a new build outside the house, that will have computer monitored ventilation and temperature at 25" permanent.
    We are a energy conscious family, not going crazy with electrical equipment but keeping all under control, as we come and go out of rooms. I do have my wife's support, therefore I feel that is, well, on a positive side.


    So, i have settled on:

    Solar Panels
    Because "the difference is in details", 8 + 8 LG PV solar panels like these ones H E R E .
    Technical info H E R E .
    One of the convincing multimedia presentation here:



    They are the 2015 one of the best panels and I hope it swill still be up there, for the next 10 years.
    8 will be installed in the roof, facing south side of the planet.
    8 will be installed on two trackers, in the back garden, built like in this video:



    They will be connected in series and parallel, to give best voltage and amps, total output in Watts been 2400W per array.
    Few panels will have a blocking diode due to chimney shadowing in the morning.
    Cost, cheaper I found at around €300 ish.


    Battery Chargers

    Based on Outback FlexMax 80 Charge Controllers from H E R E .
    I'll have two of them, each been fed from one of the array.
    They will be over-dimensioned, designed by manufacturer to take 80A but I want to keep them running nice and sweet at 48V and 50A.
    Cost, around €600 each.


    Battery Bank

    I'm in the process of getting quotations from 3 different suppliers for these one H E R E.
    Trojan L-16RE-A 6v 360Ah.
    Cheaper I found is around €326.56
    I will have 4 units in series at 6V giving 24V and 360Ah and then in parallel outputting an 48V and around 700Ah.
    Decided to go with Trojan as they are in my budget, are premium Renewable Equipment and ,even if I may have to buy the units from the continent, i have a Dublin based support company handy.


    Inverter DC to AC

    Again, I've decided to go for Outback GVFX3048E grid tie invertor as this one H E R E.
    Input taken from the batteries and giving a max 3000W in AC output.
    I guess that will allow for few heavy devices in the house been powered at the same time. We just have to be aware if one is using the wash machine and iron/hoover at the same time (is a small house so we can communicate easy).
    Cost, around €1,500.

    Other parts:

    Of course, part of the beautiful designed Outback Power Communication system is the H U B ,the FlexNET and the control MATE.
    In the short term, i am waiting for feedback on the lead-acid based batteries equaliser / balancer, using a smart monitoring circuit.
    Cabling, maxim run is around 10-15m, using 14mm2 cables from PVs to control room.



    Future plans is to integrate it with grid tied invertor, ABB 5Kw Irish certified model, but still waiting for the big boys to share the slice of the cake.

    Thanks for reading, i do appreciate the feedback.


«13

Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 297 ✭✭ power101


    Just on installation I would wait until the end of the first quarter 2016 to see if a FIT is brought in for PV.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Without delving too far into the datasheets it looks pretty mad. Why the solar trackers? Why dual axis trackers, is it so difficult elevate them ~5° every month? Do you really expect to gain so much on cloudy days?
    Those actuators will suffer water ingress I don't care what the IP rating is it can't be an actuator and be completely sealed.

    The modules are miss-matched to your bank. For a reliable robust PWM controller system I'd go low voltage and by all means buy a share in a copper mine. So with a battery voltage of 48V a module VOC of 30V in paired series or 60V. With a MPPT charge controller bung the load in series and save on copper.

    24V in parallel with 24V is 24V.
    6V are not ideal for a house. If one cell dies you lose 3 and it's more difficult to rotate the weak cells to the centre of the bank.

    A charged battery is useless why do you want 2 systems, one in case the other fails or surplus harvest to requirements?
    Surplus won't really happen imho the more you make the more you'll use, substitute the other fossil fuels in your life for photons. Forget about the charge controller stick the panels direct to battery and run charge diverters.

    Flush mount panels can make you a net producer for a fraction of the cost. A one horse off-grid system will still let you down.

    What are the round trip energy returns on heating batteries?

    If your "smart" equaliser is monitoring 24 hydrometers then send me a link, if it's not then I say snake oil.

    Nice inverter. I've seen them go on ebay for £800.

    Your charge controllers are not overspec-ed they're near the load limit you need to allow 20% overhead for cloud edging and low temperature uprating.

    Why do you want a "proprietary communication network" :confused: :mad: :confused:


    My advise would be to start with a used cheapo serviceable battery bank. There's a steep learning curve. Everyone kills their first battery. Try it on some forklifts first.

    Happy harvesting.

    €0.02


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    power101 wrote: »
    Just on installation I would wait until the end of the first quarter 2016 to see if a FIT is brought in for PV.

    You may be right but who knows what kind of conditions they may impose.
    Not that I wanna give them ideas free of charge but my project is DIY. If they says yes, it will be subsidies or FiT applied but has to be installed and/or certified by "only this" company that has the right skills and only right skills in the industry !?

    I do agree the certification related to minimum absolute standards but not sure yet re others, such as grid-tie inverter, as at the moment only ABB is certified with Irish standard, so far. My Outback chosen model is not, despite having all other EU conformation certificates.

    Late Edit:
    Another thing to be taken in consideration, i stand to be corrected but if today price for a PV solar is lets say at around €1/Watt,after the decision to apply FiT, could be that the price will increase more than €1 or could drop to less !? Will that affect the installation only or the supply chain / channels as well ? I remember before when were no grants, that a job costs an amount then once grants been introduced, suddenly prices increased by all participants in the supplying/installing/supporting the solution, increase transferred and paid by the poor end user.

    Only reason to wait is to see if the EU Commission may "adjust" the surcharge / lobby expenses /oil protective taxes applied to "Made in China" PV panels ,as if they will be reduced or dropped.

    Also, as is DIY I could prove that has been installed "tomorrow" or after the day FiT has been approved. Kind of cheating here...

    We will see...
    Thanks.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Without delving into too far into the datasheets it looks pretty mad. Why the solar trackers? Why dual axis trackers, is it so difficult elevate them ~5° every month? Do you really expect to gain so much on cloudy days?
    Those actuators will suffer water ingress I don't care what the IP rating is it can't be an actuator and be completely sealed.

    The modules are miss-matched to your bank. For a reliable robust PWM controller system I'd go low voltage and by all means buy a share in a copper mine. So with a battery voltage of 48V a module VOC of 30V in paired series or 60V. With a MPPT charge controller bung the load in series and save on copper.

    24V in parallel with 24V is 24V.
    6V are not ideal for a house. If one cell dies you lose 3 and it's more difficult to rotate the weak cells to the centre of the bank.

    A charged battery is useless why do you want 2 systems, one in case the other fails or surplus harvest to requirements?
    Surplus won't really happen imho the more you make the more you'll use, substitute the other fossil fuels in your life for photons. Forget about the charge controller stick the panels direct to battery and run charge diverters.

    Flush mount panels can make you a net producer for a fraction of the cost. A one horse off-grid system will still let you down.

    What are the round trip energy returns on heating batteries?

    If your "smart" equaliser is monitoring 24 hydrometers then send me a link, if it's not then I say snake oil.

    Nice inverter. I've seen them go on ebay for £800.

    Your charge controllers are not overspec-ed they're near the load limit you need to allow 20% overhead for cloud edging and low temperature uprating.

    Why do you want a "proprietary communication network" :confused: :mad: :confused:


    My advise would be to start with a used cheapo serviceable battery bank. There's a steep learning curve. Everyone kills their first battery. Try it on some forklifts first.

    Happy harvesting.

    €0.02


    Well Sir.. thanks for giving me a lots of "harvesting" material to "harvest" over a couple of days.
    I am much obliged for the feedback, recommendations.
    Thanks.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Photon harvesting was the intended meaning.

    Afaik you only need a sparks with all the right acronyms to sign off on the grid tie inverter. Upstream of that is grey.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Photon harvesting was the intended meaning.

    Afaik you only need a sparks with all the right acronyms to sign off on the inverter. Upstream of that is grey.


    Thanks.

    Can you share anything about the Aurora Power One Inverter, please !?
    Found a tonne of material but very little of how does it work grid-on / grid-off, also how is switching/balancing between house AC loads and grid-tie supply.

    Found a very good deal on a ABB PVI-6000-TL-OUTD-S and I just don't wanna miss it. Just decided to pass the batteries for third stage of the project.

    Also, if you around Dublin these days, i can meet you for a chat and a consultation, if that suits you.

    Regards


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    I just do battery systems me it's a lifestyle and a hobby. I'm not involved in the industry.

    Switching between house and grid is easy, higher voltage wins. GTI is higher than grid = export. GTI lower than grid = import.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Well,my project just died after few weeks of vey intensive and exciting research.
    After reading other post where with a system of 24 panels ROI is small and the other one with almost 2Kw panels getting just over 20W a day...numbers just doesnt match.
    My mind beat my heart,so i guess the focus now is on "how to" replace the kitchen furniture.

    Possible identified issues:

    Front of the house:
    -location for 8 panels,fitted in various positions cannot get the desired maxim output;
    -early mornings (EAST) it will be shaded by the chimney,late in the evening (WEST) shaded patially by the neighbour building.Shading of some panels versus some cells,panels linked serial - parallel ... KILLS output completely;
    -cannot "justify" legal regulations;
    -even if i can build mesh supporting the new tructure that will hold the panels,it will not be cost effective after Structural Engineer,aluminium frames and plastic wind deflectors installed...


    374078.jpg

    Back of the house / Garden:
    -there is place for 2 x 4 panels on a nice 3m pole tracker E-W but the winter months i get no sun exposure at all. Just few drop of lights "reflected" by the planes and birds.


    What options do i have !?

    1.ignore,make my wife happy in the kitchen,it may reflect in my life at some point,somewhere;
    2.build a smaller array that will cover front house roof and possible live with the back garden summer months only;
    3.upgrade the solar tubes from 40 to 60,ignore the PVs,save money on gas bill toward electricity bill
    4.become more electricity-aware with tools like these that may not save money but improve my consumer habits from here

    Thanks in advance...it may be my last post in Renewable Energy,trying to save the Planet that will survive, but all living creatures will disapear... :)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    I know it may sound crazy...

    Been certified viable from a mechanical point of view... do you reckon this PV tower with tracker will pass any Planning Permission process(s) if I will try to install in the font garden !?

    Thanks


    [URL="[url=https://flic.kr/p/CvJdXk][img]https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1453/23965260313_342448d4ba_b.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/CvJdXk]PV_Tower_v1[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/][/url], on Flickr"][/url]23965260313_342448d4ba_b.jpgPV_Tower_v1, on Flickr


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Hi,

    Just a quick update,proving that "green e_virus" is alive and kicking ...
    Just received delivery of nice lovely 7x LG320 and a ABB inverter.Nice feeling when i touch them.


    392583.jpg

    Planning to use the bad weather to shift the solar tubes at the higher position of the roof,freeing up the bottom section to accomdate my 7 panels.

    Lots of fun to come ...


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  • Registered Users Posts: 265 ✭✭ SemperFidelis


    Looks good, keep us posted on how you get on with installation.

    And if you don't mind please PM me where you bought the panels, looking to do a diy install myself at some stage.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,097 ✭✭✭ freddyuk


    Don't have your PV too close to the bottom edge as you can overshoot the gutter. You will be very tight for space looking at images.
    For the record there are other certified GT inverters with Irish certificate but the ABB are a good brand.
    If you go battery option I would not consider anything less then 2v cells as others have said however now I would use AHI batteries as these are now 48v or 24v. Why? Because they are 100% safe. No topping up or monitoring to worry about. No issue with adding new to older units or balancing. No "dead" cells which happens with traditional Forklift banks. You can use 100% of the capacity whereas with Lead Acid you need to have double the capacity so double the cost.
    The beauty is you can have a couple of stacks (5kwh) installed and rigged as grid tied thus being charged from as much PV as you can muster for free and then topped up if required from the grid overnight only using an off peak meter. This would run you overnight loads. Adding to the bank if you are happy can then be done later and run the whole house on free PV or cheap rate grid only for any balance.
    As said above buying expensive batteries without any experience is not a wise move as you will loose them early. However with AHI batteries you need no experience or maintenance skills once the system is installed as they require no servicing and no expertise from the user.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,097 ✭✭✭ freddyuk


    Don't have your PV too close to the bottom edge as you can overshoot the gutter. You will be very tight for space looking at images.
    For the record there are other certified GT inverters with Irish certificate but the ABB are a good brand.
    If you go battery option I would not consider anything less then 2v cells as others have said however now I would use AHI batteries as these are now 48v or 24v. Why? Because they are 100% safe. No topping up or monitoring to worry about. No issue with adding new to older units or balancing. No "dead" cells which happens with traditional Forklift banks. You can use 100% of the capacity whereas with Lead Acid you need to have double the capacity so double the cost.
    The beauty is you can have a couple of stacks (5kwh) installed and rigged as grid tied thus being charged from as much PV as you can muster for free and then topped up if required from the grid overnight only using an off peak meter. This would run you overnight loads. Adding to the bank if you are happy can then be done later and run the whole house on free PV or cheap rate grid only for any balance.
    As said above buying expensive batteries without any experience is not a wise move as you will loose them early. However with AHI batteries you need no experience or maintenance skills once the system is installed as they require no servicing and no expertise from the user.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    I have my doubts about AHI Freddy...and every other "game-changing", "maintenance-free" wet cell, "full discharge capable" new amaze-o-battery. How intimately do you know them?
    They do not claim to have immortal cells, what they claim is a dead cell will not leave your battery open circuit because the 48v strings are in parallel.
    It sounds too good to be true.

    Salespersons say reassuringly expensive AGMs are maintenance free too...this is because they recommend you retard your charger, they still die prematurely from either thirst or sulphation. FLA would be maintenance free too if you mollycoddled them like AGMs
    You can get double the capacity FLA OPzS for half the price of equivalent AHI. Forklift cells are even cheaper.

    No UL or ISTA benchmarks met yet. Rated to 70% capacity on claimed cycle life, not industry standard 80%.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,097 ✭✭✭ freddyuk


    I was cynical too as plenty of snake oil out there in the renewables industry. Under charging AGM's is going to lead to early failure but these are being sold for domestic power packs without regard for the maintenance which is critical for keeping these traditional batteries alive. Fork lift cells require a charging regime as the supplier will tell you and solar charging almost never gives a battery bank the correct amount of charge to fully recover from depletion thus they lose capacity via sulphation. They may be recovered by forced equalisation or a period of constant charge to reverse the chemistry but this can take a long time so they would be unusable for a period and 100% capacity would likely not be reached.
    I have two sites under monitoring and I am convinced the manufacturer is correct -"so far". The AHI batteries are being used on Off Grid sites; one is a business and the other domestic house. Both are solar charged with generator backup but the generator has not been used since the winter. They have been abused to some extent to check the resilience and have bounced back from deep discharges without a problem. We cannot tell if they will last 10+ years until time has passed so can only look at manufacturers tests and gauge if they are giving what they are supposed to. So far I am impressed and personally would be using these against FLA based on actual experience. The cost is high due to the Lithium market competition which is the benchmark for manufacturer so prices can and will fall. The actual components are cheap and easily available and there are no safety concerns unlike FLA and Lithium. I have had personal experience of a long dead sealed Lead Acid battery coming to life and emitting large quantities of Hydrogen gas which could have been a disaster in the home. It turned every bit of copper in the garage grey! So be warned....
    AHI have zero components that could be remotely dangerous?


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    I get where you're coming from Freddy, I like getting my hands dirty and don't understand the one-size-fits-all-fire-and-forget-installation approach, to me it's compromising on performance. I'm happy to do the light handed maintenance on my battery sets for an overall improvement in health and performance. With that in mind I can flag these disasters in the home long before they happen. I have a hard time accepting this is not what Joe Public wants and he's more than happy to compromise on efficiency and longevity (especially if you don't tell him) for convenience.
    AGMs are FLA with finicky electrolyte. In my experience if you charge FLA at 2.467V p/c with temperature compensation until the specific gravity is 1.275 for domestic loads they rarely need EQ.
    Sealed lead acid batteries have no place in off grid if you ask me..seal and externally vent the compartment not the cells. It's no coincidence all these new fangled batteries compare themselves to gel and AGMs when they pick a match for LA.

    I don't find it a problem getting my FLA 107% charged once a week or 100% charged once a week and 107% charged once a month in the off season. My camper has enough downtime for solar to do the job and/or a hook-up for the depths of Winter & my house battery can use off-peak mains. For off grid a battery that does not deteriorate over time without full charge does become an asset but if it's more expensive than a wind turbine I'd go for the wind turbine.

    What manufacturer tests? The ones they haven't published?
    Lithium hasn't wrested the title from FLA in the static application field yet either although it has made it to No. 1 in the pop charts and electric motive.

    I agree about lithium ion being dangerous, LA is pretty stable when managed.

    How do you know when these AHI batteries are fully charged?
    Do they gas?
    What's the preferred charge algorithm?
    Have you data to display the internal resistance/efficiency? Does it match the manufacturer figures?
    What's the coloumbic efficiency?

    PS. ignore my cynicism, like you say there's too much snake oil in the industry...I'm always interested in batteries, but I'm a hard sell. :D

    PPS. I'll be pm'ing you in 6 years to see how they're holding up. :)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Hi,

    A quick dirty sad update:
    My living room has been for the past month / 4 weeks storage for the panels and other bits.

    Cannot find the person or company to fit the panels on the roof.
    Friends,they are all enjoying sunnier climate until the end of August
    Few of the supplier aka competition, quote prices as far as €2,000 to fit them,with my own parts.
    Other company that i have approached didnt even bothered replying back !

    So,i own a nice piece of PVs while i "argue and fight" with my wife... not good,not good at all.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Thanks to all that shared information !
    My inverter has "green light" !!!

    397308.jpg


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Morning,

    And for those that will like to embark on a DIY journey...keep an eye on my system with live logging and history data/records for analysis and comparison ... HERE.

    Have fun !


  • Registered Users Posts: 263 ✭✭ Conor20


    rolion wrote: »
    Thanks to all that shared information !
    My inverter has "green light" !!!
    I'm really happy to see this - congratulations! I will install a Solar PV array on our house in the next few weeks, though it will be less hands on than your project (e.g. I will have a company supply and install it). I will likely follow up with a DIY install on the shed roof space along the lines of what you've done though. Did you add batteries to the mix? It'd be great if you could do a write up on the source of your materials, the total costs and the performance over the first few months. It would give a really useful template for repeating a similar install.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,478 ✭✭✭ eeguy


    Congrats! Do you have a final build +installation cost for the entire system?


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Has the solar thermal taken much of a hit with the chimney shadow and the draft?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Hi,

    I'll reply to above questions soon.
    Now,as per this post here... my panels are disconnected as i'm paying for my own producton !!! :(

    Lessons to be learned...


    https://www.esbnetworks.ie/new-connections/generator-connections/connect-a-micro-generator

    397562.jpg


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Sorry for double posting,just in case someone follows this thread,please NOTE the electricity meter needs to be "upgraded" a per topic HERE !

    Have fun !


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Well... time to update the game!

    I'm installing an upgrade to the current system.
    Back garden, an array of eight LG 310 panels, stationary, with a DIY pole mount adjustable only on the God Sun angle but not east-west ,connected to same inverter.
    With around 4ish KW I should be able to run all my appliances except the cooker.

    I'll post more on the how's going next week.

    Have fun.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Well, FiT is nowhere to be seen at the horizons, but my back garden took delivery & installation of a new shinny 8 LGs panels just days ago.

    Supported by galvanised steels from HERE .
    LG panels 300w NIC-G4 latest generation, as HERE .
    All railings, fittings and friendly chat supplied from HERE .
    Powered by LG but ... (soon) smartly optimised by TIGO by same guys above.

    Just waiting for the piping to be completed so that I can connect the PV cables to main ABB inverter and... proudly enjoy it.



    412304.jpg

    412305.jpg


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,177 ✭✭✭✭ KCross


    It looks quite high. Are there any planning implications for that?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,946 ✭✭✭ randombar


    Are your neighbours behind you not going nuts over robbing their sunlight?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    Dunno guys.
    Not higher than my neighbour trees... or my neighbour extension walls or .. . roof.
    Sun comes and goes.


    A big milestone.. iv'e generated today 600KwH ! I have made my €100 back ... and few more to go .

    412374.jpg


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,364 ✭✭✭ rolion


    And speeding with 27kwh towards my fist MEGAwatt produced and saved from the corporations ! :)

    414413.jpg


    PV to water diverter zooms away at a high rate and only yesterday it came-up with an error "Tank Hot" which means that i will not be bale to divert any more of the PVs to the water cylinder !

    414412.jpg

    Where is the FIT,when i produced 27 kw and i used only 10,giving free to my neighbour over 17 KW !??

    414411.jpg


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