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Optimal placement of solar system components

PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:26 pm
by Halcyon
Hello all,
First posting here, but have been reading for a while. I'm planning a new house on my farm which will be 1.5kms from the grid, so stand alone solar/generator seems the way to go. I'm designing the house myself and want to get things right first time so I would like to know what are the optimal siting conditions for all the different components.

My first thought was to put the panels, batteries and inverter at the machinery/workshop which will be 160m from the house, but reading this forum seems to indicate that this is too far away and the shed will be too warm in the summer for good battery life.
The house will be 2 storey and built from Mt Gambier limestone with cavity wall with insulating board in the cavity so should keep a comfortable temp. I'm thinking now that the panels will go near the house (at ground level) and the batteries in a dedicated room on the south side under the verandah. If this is 'the go', should the inverter be in the same room as the batteries or remote from them?

Are there any other siting issues that I should be cognisant of? The design of the system will be done by consultants that my electrician will use. I live in northern Vic - hot summer and cold winter.

Will be thankful for any input.
Regards Pat

Re: Optimal placement of solar system components

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:31 pm
by Gordon-Loomberah
Welcome to the Energy Matters Forums Pat :)

It is a good idea to mount your panels and inverter as close as reasonably possible to where the loads are. This reduces the cost of cabling, which would be significant for a 160m run, and reduces loss of energy due to resistance over long cable runs too. With off-grid systems you want to keep things as efficient as they can be (not that this shouldn't be an aim for any energy use!).
As you mention, a hot uninsulated or unshaded shed is likely to be a bit too hot in summer for battery longevity.

Many people have batteries in the same room as their inverter, but care should be taken to make sure flooded Lead-acid battery fumes cannot envelop any electronic devices or the room in general. Separate partitions, or boxes vented to the outside can help with this. If you use sealed Lead-acid there should not be any fumes, or better yet, LiFePO4 chemistry also does not give off any fumes, and is much more efficient and will take up significantly less space for the same capactity.

Re panel placement have a read of this thread: ... c5064.html

For discussion about Lithium batteries there are a number of threads, and this one compares Lead-acid with LiFePO4:

Re: Optimal placement of solar system components

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:17 pm
by tom rickard
If you plan on putting the electronics in with the batteries, you will need some sort of air-conditioning. The inverter will heat up a small enclosure significantly.

Check as much as possible the different systems that are available for off-grid before you make a decision, there are a LOT of options.

Re: Optimal placement of solar system components

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:42 pm
by Halcyon
Thanks for the replies Gordon and Tom.
I intend to use LiFePO4 batteries so putting them and the inverter in the garage(50 sq m) could be the best option. That leaves the generator for consideration. I still need to have power at the shed (160m away) so is putting the generator there an option? That would keep the noise away from the house.

I'm comfortable doing simple stuff with 12V and changing power points and the like, but in general 240V has always seemed a dark science for me so I am grateful for any advice. I will be guided by my sparky to a large degree, but the information you are giving me will enable me to ask the right questions.
Cheers. Pat

Re: Optimal placement of solar system components

PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:10 am
by tom rickard
If you are using LiFePo4's, make sure you get advice from someone that has set them up before.

No probs putting the generator 160m away, other than the cost of the cables capable of carrying the required current.

Re: Optimal placement of solar system components

PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:42 pm
by TsaTsa2CV
We have an almost identical setup you are thinking of with the shed 120m away. I housed everything in the shed with 5.55kW of panels on the roof, 2 Apollo charge controllers and Latronic inverter underneath and batteries in a shaded position in closure. I built a little genset enclosure away from the house and it all works a treat! I used the generator 10hours last winter and could have probably managed without. We ran the genset with enough fule to run for 3 hours to run in the evening. This way it run the house 100% and the balance went into the batteries not further draining them.
Our house is limestone also. Look up old posts if you are interested. It is a new build.
Yes, running a cable will cost a little more but keeps everything together and also keeps noise, not only from the generator but also from inverter and charge controllers away and possible problems with interference of radio reception! In the context of building a new house a minimal additional cost I feel.
We are in central Vic also with hot summers and cold winters but always cool nights!
Very happy to be off grid as we did not skimp with capacity we live a normal existence with all mod cons!

Re: Optimal placement of solar system components

PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 8:03 am
by Halcyon
Thanks for the reply TT2CV.
Just how much noise do the electronic components of the system make? I hadn't considered this aspect.
I read your voluminous report of the build you did and hope that mine is a bit quicker. For heating I will mainly use a wood heater and with it being near the staircase the theory is that I will be able to set up a 'thermosyphon' of warm air going up the staircase and returning via a couple of large floor vents further back in the house. I did this in my present house (2 storey Victorian) with hot water from the stove and it worked well in circulating the water upstairs without a pump. Lots to learn.

Re: Optimal placement of solar system components

PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:41 am
by Gordon-Loomberah
The main noises that come from off-grid system components (in my case Outback MPPT CCs and Latronics inverter) are cooling fan noise, which can barely be heard more than 5m away from my power shed. The inverter can make a humming noise with some loads, but it isn't loud at all. Generators however, can be noisy, unless you use a silenced type, and you don't want the exhaust fumes to be affecting living areas, so they are best located at a distance.