DIY sub 25k off-grid system

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DIY sub 25k off-grid system

Postby tom rickard » Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:07 pm

In another topic, someone looking to install an off-grid system commented that it would be great to have a layout of all the components needed to have off-grid power. I'm going to have a crack at it based on what I have learnt in the last 3 years of being off-grid.

Criteria is for “typical” family power usage, and sub 25k to set-up. Here is what I came up with:

Winston 380aH cells * 16 (EVworks) $8640
Copper bar for links (local supplier) $140
Batrium BMS system (Batrium) $450
LVD contactor Gigavac GX14BC (EVworks) $210
High voltage disconnect (GSL electronics) $220
Outback Flexmax FM60 charge controller (ebay etc..) $1000
Latronics inverter 3.5kw (ebay) $3000 **example only, a few good ones around this price available
Kubota lowboy 6kva diesel generator (Kubota dealer will be cheaper than ebay) $6000
240v to 48v 50A Zivan battery charger (online) $1100
Trina 260W panels * 8 (pick your supplier and haggle) $2100
Panel racking (ebay etc) $400
Solar panel wiring $250
Bussman main circuit breaker (online) $200
Noark solar panel breaker (ebay) $60
Fuse enclosure, breakers for mains supply / 240 charger (ebay) $50
Wiring from batteries to bussman to gigavac to inverter 0AWG wire and terminals $100
Wiring from charge controller to HVDC to bussman 4AWG wire and terminals $50

Total $23970.

There is still the need to house all the components, and the knowledge to connect the system, and on top of that you will need to pay an electrician / solar installer if you need to. My system is configured in this manner, but some of the components are different. This (apart from getting a bigger inverter and charge controller), is how I would set-up a system if I was starting from scratch.

Please note that this is not a “how-to” on setting up a system, and the prices are based on my research, not accurate quotes. When setting up your own system, make sure you do your own research.

I acknowledge that many disagree with the useage of $7700 worth of budget to include a generator as an integral part of the system, so let them put up their “sub 25k” system in this thread, and weigh up how you would use the system. My reasoning is that if you include a generator, you keep the battery bank size minimized, you keep the solar panel wiring minimized (one breaker), only need one charge controller, etc. Last winter we had nearly 2 weeks where the sun was virtually non-existant, so no matter what we would have needed a generator in any case with a 400aH bank.
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Re: DIY sub 25k off-grid system

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Thu Nov 05, 2015 4:26 pm

Yes a generator will be needed in most off-grid installations, particularly in southern regions of Australia. However, my preference is for a much less expensive generator, used to charge batteries, rather than supply 230V directly. I recently bought a 2.4kVA LPG powered generator, which I could run from directly, but prefer to use a 25A battery charger to charge the Lithium battery instead. (I would have preferred 35 or 40A, but EV Power only had 25A) I only use it for Bulk charging, and I need to run it for much less time that I would have to if I was waiting for the sun to charge the battery via the PV alone in heavily overcast weather.

Rather than re-doing the whole thing, I think Tom has it a quite reasonable selection above, the main changes I'm make are the previously mentioned downsized generator - which saves ~$4500, and use that money to buy another 2kW of PV and use an FM80 instead of an FM60. They are better value than the FM60s on an ouput/dollar basis- only costing a little more, and you could run the extra PV through it.

That saves over $2000, which could be put into a larger inverter, 4 or 5kW.
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Re: DIY sub 25k off-grid system

Postby station240 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:46 am

It's good also as it shows where the money goes, so if a certain technology gets cheaper *glares at batteries*, you can see what sort of effect it will have.
I made some subtotals for your system:
Batteries: $8,640 36.04%
Electronics: $5,550 23.15%
Generator: $6,000 25.03%
Solar panels: $2,750 11.47%
Cables and Circuit breakers: $1,030 4.29%

Lots of potential for savings on batteries and electronics when manufacture and design improve.

Also don't forget a trickle charger to maintain the generator's start battery.
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Re: DIY sub 25k off-grid system

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:32 pm

tom rickard wrote:Winston 380aH cells * 16 (EVworks) $8640


I thought it looked too good to be true... do you get a special deal, or is that a typo? Their website lists 300AH Winston cells for $540. I don't see a 380AH listed.
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Re: DIY sub 25k off-grid system

Postby tom rickard » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:47 pm

Sorry, typo. Should be 300aH cells. Cheers.
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Re: DIY sub 25k off-grid system

Postby offgridQLD » Fri Nov 20, 2015 8:07 am

Good one Tom. There are some great components now days to pick from. A selective package can be had resulting in great off grid system for a reasonable price.

+one on other options to the $6000 generator. I inherited a Kabotoa J108 with my offgrid house. list price is about $9000 but can be had for a about 7k. I haven't used the thing once. That 7-9k would have covered the 4000w additional PV and associated charge controller that rendered the generator unnecessary. Though my location is favorable to a No generator system.

Gordons approach is a good compromise more PV and modest back up gen.

I could get shot down for saying this but I will mention it anyhow as I think I am in a position to say it like it is.

I have been playing for a couple of years with a Asian inverter, charger & mpp charge controller in one unit. It cost me $800 From new I spend another $100 upgrading two component limitations caps and fets (though new models have followed this idea from the factory so hacking is no longer needed) It's a 4000w continuous inverter 3000w AC/DC charger and a 3000w MPPT controller.

For under $1000 it covers the charge controller, inverter, AC charger. (4-5k saving) Just add PV, battery and the like.

I have been giving the thing a hammering. It runs my workshop and EV charging at the moment (a lot more nasty loads than a typical offgrid house would put on it)

I have the real good gear to compare it to. I'm seriously questioning if I would replace my Selectronic inverter with another one if it came to that. As I feel this kind of unit really is the Hyundai, kia equivalent. That given time made a good product and provided tough competition once they go there act together and shook up the more premium brands of the time.

The package would come down to well under 20K.

I will put together a similar package list when I have time.

kurt
Offgrid 2008, Selectronic PS1 6kw/48v inverter, x 2 Midnite solar classic 150 MPPT, 3960w NE PV 24 x 165w BP panels, 4200w NW PV 21 x 200w DAQO PV, 16x400ah lithium.
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Re: DIY sub 25k off-grid system

Postby new to solar power » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:20 pm

Good on you Kurt for saying it as you see it.
You will get a lot of respect for it from people who want an alternative way of going off grid on a small budget.
Many of us poorer offgriders (in knowledge and money) will be waiting for your post.

Alex
6000w solar. 2/80A Fangpusun charge controllers. 1/Genpower Inverter 6000w/18000w, 220w idle (ouch) for the workshop, 1/Tingen Inverter 6000/12000w, 24w idle for the house. 24/2v 1200ah OPzV Allgrand batteries. 1/Diesel Generator 53a 230v 50hz
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Re: DIY sub 25k off-grid system

Postby offgridQLD » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:45 pm

Yep that's all it would be an alternative. The Selectronic and several other big brand name units are unquestionably high quality products with limitless features and options.Though you sure do pay for it . I guess its the same with all products. Though if the basic features and lower quality are acceptable or perhaps the only option due to budget then its a option.

Personally I just started to think with the 5k+ saving I could make another $1000 on the money by keeping it In my bank even at todays intrest rates in the time it takes for the inverter to fail due to having components with a lower service life (let's say a solid 5 years vs 15 years) particularly if you include a Airconditioner into that budget system to keep the power electronics icy cold. Heat is the enemy for service life.

Thinking about it more much like Gordon mentioned I won't relist all the individual costs again as they all sound resonable to me. Just sub in the all in one for the cost of the (inverter, mppt Charge controler and AC/DC battery charger with the unit mentioned.) They are around $1000 now due to exchange rate lately.


Kurt
Offgrid 2008, Selectronic PS1 6kw/48v inverter, x 2 Midnite solar classic 150 MPPT, 3960w NE PV 24 x 165w BP panels, 4200w NW PV 21 x 200w DAQO PV, 16x400ah lithium.
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Re: DIY sub 25k off-grid system

Postby tom rickard » Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:53 pm

Some good thoughts thanks guys. The components I listed were based on feedback from people that have been using them for many years in off-grid situations, or my own personal experiences. I think it is key when setting up a system that you are going to be relying on to try to find someone that uses their system as closely as possible to how you intend to.

A few years ago there were a LOT of people saying it was foolish to rely on LiFePo4 technology for an off-grid system. Not so much now.. The inverter situation may be the same, in a few years we will know. Certainly the price difference allows for a "spare" or three. I have been running a "custom" Chinese inverter for a few years myself, when I bought it my intention was to upgrade to a selectronics when I was permanently using the power source. I changed my mind and bought a Sunny Boy a year ago, it's still sitting in it's cardboard box, and if the cheapy inverter was a 5kw instead of a 3kw, it would probably stay there indefinitely.


For sure, if you can use a cheaper generator and inverter, you'd be well below $20k for a decent off-grid system.
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Re: DIY sub 25k off-grid system

Postby new to solar power » Fri Nov 20, 2015 8:50 pm

Hmm,
I like where this topic is going now, we are starting to get a few good ideas and thoughts coming forward.

Common sense says that anyone who has a offgrid solar system actually does works because if it didn't they wouldn't be off grid.

From a novice experimenter this is about where the tree of knowledge or the lack of comes into play, how to get the best out of what you have got and or replace the weakest link in the system to make it more safe and efficient.

I can see from the forum that many of you guys are fanastic experimenters and are leaders in the field of off grid solar and I personally respect you for that and also there are many other people who just want to have there solar system and can happily pay for the technology, then there are others a bit like me maybe, that are sort of follows and who just want to give it a go and have the guts to try.

Now that I am up and running with my system I need to fine tune it and I am on a very steep learning curve.

Ruffly a year ago I bought a new water cooled horizontal single cylinder diesel engine (supposedly multi fuelled ) coupled to a 53a 230v 50hz generator from a supplier on aliexpress With a lot of negotiating I got it landed in Sydney for 980AUD, this meant I didn't have to pay the 5% import duty and 10% GST but the port and customs charges aren't cheap at about 500AUD.
This genset I have had running and it goes great, I set up a few heaters on it and was drawing 50amps.
I want this genset for my workshop because I do a bit of mig welding work here and need most of the 50A when welding the bigger jobs.
6000w solar. 2/80A Fangpusun charge controllers. 1/Genpower Inverter 6000w/18000w, 220w idle (ouch) for the workshop, 1/Tingen Inverter 6000/12000w, 24w idle for the house. 24/2v 1200ah OPzV Allgrand batteries. 1/Diesel Generator 53a 230v 50hz
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