New Technologies that will help you empower your life.
If you are one of the many people considering off grid solar power as an alternative to coal burning grid electricity, this article will help you understand more about your options.
There are lots of new technologies that revolutionise the way we design off grid power solutions today that are light years ahead of systems used a decade ago.
1. Lithium Batteries
Lithium Iron phosphate battery storage systems have become cheaper and more efficient than the lead acid batteries that have dominated off grid solar in the past. The main advantages of Lithium batteries are:
- the ability to deep cycle up to 90% of battery capacity without damaging the life span of the batteries.
- They do not need to be kept charged every day and are unaffected by prolonged low charge levels that critically damage lead acid batteries.
- They have smart battery management systems that interact with the inverters and charge controllers to optimise battery use and charging.
- It is easy to add more battery capacity at any time.
- 10 year warranties available for battery life.
2. Solar Panels
New advancements in solar PV systems have made solar generation much more affordable. Here are some key points:
- More power in less space. We are generating 370-400 watts in the same area that used to get only 170 watts a decade ago.
- Government Rebates for fitting new solar panels make them cheaper than buying second-hand panels.
- Better efficiency in cloudy conditions means more power when you need it the most.
- The low cost of solar panels tilts design towards more panels and less batteries. Why store more power in expensive batteries when you can have enough panels to over-produce, ensuring power in adequate for your needs in cloudy weather?
3. Inverters and Charge Controllers
Today’s easy to use smart systems manage and control power use, storage and generation better than ever before:
- Internet connected for easy monitoring and remote control so that technical support is easy by phone anytime. Settings can be changed off site by experts without expensive site visits.
- Full grid interactivity possible where grid power is available. Solar production on most off grid systems goes dormant when batteries are fully charged. You can now use grid for backup power and sell all that excess energy to the grid to make grid connection free. Cheaper and less noise than running a generator.
- Add more components any time to expand power and capacity.
- Run standard appliances like any other normal home.
With good design, off grid solar power systems can be more reliable than the electricity from the coal and gas-burning electricity grid. Getting the right balance between your energy use, appliance selection and size of inverters, solar and batteries is important to ensure trouble-free power.
It is surprising how much energy can be saved by carefully choosing power-efficient appliances and planning when you use them to get the most out of solar power peaks during daylight hours. It is easy to plan your design so you can limit energy consumption without compromising on comfort or lifestyle. In my next instalment I will be looking at how to work out the right size for inverters solar and batteries to match your power footprint.