SYSTEMATIC SOLAR BUILD
A simple completed solar system will consist of the following:
INVERTER - Buy the correct size from the beginning, this will prevent having to replace it later.
BATTERIES - Start small as all batteries have to be installed or replaced as a set. Old and new batteries do not mix.
SOLAR PANELS - These are not needed right from the start.
MPPT SOLAR CHARGE CONTROLLER - This is only needed once the panels are installed.
SOLAR COMBINER BOX - This is only needed once the panels are installed.
We will start the build as a simple built in UPS system with an Inverter and a few Batteries.
I) CHOOSE YOUR INVERTER SIZE:
One will have to calculate the absolute max load (current) that will be used at any one point. This calculation is done in Kilo Watts (KW). The easiest way is to fit an inexpensive Amp meter to your DB board and manually checking current readings. The best way would be fitting a power monitor to your DB board that will give precise logs of all power used at any given time and total power consumed for each day. Once you have logs from the power monitor look for the highest load at any one time. Let's say it was 2.9KW then don't buy a 3 KW inverter, rather get a 5KW unit. If it was 5KW then get an 8KW. A 3KW inverter is sufficient for energy conscious and small households, but for those who like keeping all the lights on at all time a 5KW or 8KW would be more suitable.
NB! Stoves, Geysers and Electric Lawnmowers should not be powered from the Inverter. One can either have a few dedicated GRID/ESKOM plugs around the house for these appliances or replace them with Gas or more energy efficient types.
First decide if you want to buy all your batteries at once or if you want to start with a small batch of batteries. If you're going to start small then no need to buy the best on the market as you will be replacing at a later stage in any case. The decision now is LEAD ACID or LITHIUM Ion (your Inverter will have to be compatible with the choice you make, with the units we install this won't be an issue as the firmware can be upgraded if you change your battery types).
NB! As a rule of thumb your batteries should be double the size of your inverter. ie. 3KW Inverter + 6KW Batteries. This is to ensure that the battery pack can withstand the drain rate. A 3KW battery pack will not be able to withstand a constant drain of 3KW (regardless if it's Lithium or Lead Acid)
LITHIUM Ion - If you can afford it, buy it. They last long, can be drained to very low levels, not sensitive to temperature changes and are more compact. A good lithium battery can yield 70% of it's power each day and last 15 years. But it comes at a price 1KW (700W Usable) = R10,000 - 10KW (7KW Usable) = R96,000 - 20KW (14KW Usable) = R143,000
LEAD ACID (DEEP CYCLE) - More cost effective than Lithium in smaller installations (below 5KW). If you want to start small then this would be the way to go.
!!! STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION - PLEASE CHECK BACK SOON FOR MORE INFO !!!