280kW Commercial System – Epping
We are hard at work on a beautiful commercial system in Epping. The planning is done and the mounting structures have been fitted. Next up is all the DC wiring while we wait for the two full containers of panels to arrive straight from the factory.
Lithium Battery & PV System – Franschoek
This is a textbook example of what can be achieved if you really apply yourself to make the most of your solar power system. By moving around a few load profiles (when the geysers come on, when the pool pump runs etc) this client of us and his wife manages to live 99% independent of municipal power. Sure, this will change somewhat in winter as we did not oversize the battery to cater for poor weather conditions but they are over the moon and so are we!
If you look carefully at the graph below you will see one or two spots of red which is where they used municipal power – but you will have to look carefully! All this is achieved with a single 5kW inverter, 7.4kWh of Lithium batteries and 3.9kW of PV panels.
10kW Grid Tie System – Pearl Valley
Another state of the art SMA grid tied system taking advantage of the Drakenstein municipality net metering system. This client is also expected to reduce his bill to nothing more than the connection fee. We used the double glass Canadian Solar panels for this installation in order to blend in with the roof as much as possible. Another option would have been the “all black” panels but pricing at that point in time disqualified the option.
10kW Grid Tie System – Simondium
This state of the art system will offset the owners total electricity consumption bill by making use of the Drakenstein net metering scheme. The system consist of 30 x 325 Canadian Solar double glass panels (frameless) with a production guarantee of 83% the original output in 30 years time. The inverter is a state of the art SMA 12000Watt, 3 phase machine. It is a thing of beauty!
The 9.75kW of PV panels is expected to generate in the order of 18 000kWh per year.
Small Off-Grid System for rural sport field – Paarl area
This is one of our smallest installations but goes to show what can be done on a shoestring budget. Due to the usage pattern we have made a rare exception to agree to relatively low cost batteries. The client did the majority of the installation themselves to save cost and it turned out pretty good.
6.5 kW PV Grid-assisted System – Hout Bay
This was our first site where we used the 5.1kWh LiFeP04 batteries from MyPower24 with their custom designed battery management system. Our client was so happy with the performance of the system that he ordered a third battery pack which we installed a week later. As can bee seen in the picture some shading problems could not be avoided (the roof not in the picture is actually much less of a problem) but with clever layout of the parallel PV strings we have been able to limit the impact of the shading on the overall performance to a minimum.
PS: Those holes were in the wall when we go there!
39kW PV Grid Tie System – Klawer
As seen in the pictures above we covered this brand new pack store with 39kW of top quality monocrystalline solar panels to produce an estimated 70 000 to 80 000 kWh per year, making a significant dent in our client’s electricity bill. And the best part is that the return on investment just keeps getting better as Eskom prices increase. The business case for these grid tie systems have improved significantly over the last year as solar panel prices continued to drop. We now see return on investment numbers of as low as 3.5 years, specifically where clients pay residential rates for blocks of flats for example, where there is an opportunity to offset the consumption at the central metering point.
4kW PV Off-grid System – Barrydale
A slight upgrade on our most popular system, the 4kW of panels should provide enough power for 95% of the time to this efficient household. A third battery is likely to be added for the winter months (taking it to 9kWh capacity for the long nights). This is the ideal kind of job for us as we were involved from the planning stage and could do the installation at the most convenient phase of the building project. No ceilings and no paint that can get dirty. As a bonus the rest of the site could be completed with the solar power provided.
1.8kW PV Off-grid System
This system is a good example of a small Litium battery based solution in a total off-grid application. No power at all in this remote location and generators not allowed. Silent, reliable power for many many years to come. The panels are actually more than one would normally couple with a 3kWh battery but the clients love using their (very efficient) 1.7kW electric stove for some cooking and baking during the day while they are on vacation in this secluded spot.
2.6kW PV Grid-assisted System – Botrivier
Yes we work on the other side of the mountain too! This is another example of what is becoming our most popular system. A Lithium battery based system with 6kWh of storage, 2.5kW PV and 8kW of inverter power. This system could easily funtion as a totally off-grid solution or (as in this case) can drastically reduce the power consumption and give protection agains power failures. This, as is often the case, is an important factor for people that are away from home for extended periods.
7.3kW PV Grid-assisted System – Kuilsrivier
We installed this monster of a system for a client who does not believe in small measures! It boasts a 10kW Microcare inverter, 7.32kW of PV and a 48kWh Lead Crystal battery bank.
Let’s just say our client was not in a hurry to get his Eskom connected! Unfortunately we could not get our hands on the final photo showing all the components in place so two 100A Microcare chargers and battery monitor is not in the photo.
4.8kW Off-grid Lithium battery based system – Baardskeerdersbos
We were privileged to be asked to supply off-grid power to a new farm house in Baardskeerdersbos in the Southern Cape. This is a significant job for us as our client opted for a new Lithium battery coupled with Voltronic inverters. We did not previously promote these inverters as we could not get local backup in terms of repair or deep technical support on them. Now that we can offer this and after having tested one for three months or so we are very happy with the results of this installation. It is a 12kW, single phase configuration supported by 9kWh of Lithium batteries and fed by 4.8kW (peak) of solar panel power.
Our client opted to do the majority of the physical installation leaving just the final wiring to us. As it turns out, this has led to new approach to neatening up the wiring (as can be seen in the photos) and our installations of the future will adopt a very similar design approach.
And as the morning progressed more and more clever ideas came from this new client of mine. For example, most of our future installations will be pre-assembled, wired and tested in our workshop before going out to site for the installation. This will save a full day of wiring, programming and testing the system on site and can be done on rainy days when we cannot be out on roofs or in air conditioned comfort in summer instead of sweating away in our client’s garage. We want to sincerely thank our new clients for their hospitality, great ideas and positive contribution to our business. Largely as a result of this new design direction we have had the most positive response on our Facebook page for any installation we have done and have elevated our business to the next level. We look forward to many happy returns to the Southern Cape to look in on existing clients and securing new ones.
2.7kW Off-grid with grid backup – Durbanville
This newly renovated home now boasts 9 x 305W PV panels, a 5kW Microcare inverter and 9.6kWh battery bank (configured to use less than half that). With the very low consumption this household has due to energy saving methods they have introduced, this will see them only relying on grid power in poor weather conditions.
The two panels below the top row sits right above the stoep where the braai is, so we spent just that extra little bit of time making sure the alignment to the top row is not a millimeter out, ensuring carefree bragging sessions for our client (not that he is the bragging type) without fear of any workmanship flaws being pointed out by jealous friends!
4.5kW Off-grid with grid backup – Somerset West
This sytem runs a 5kW Microcare inverter, 100A Microcare MPPT controller and 21.6kWh of flooded lead acid batteries. The system was planned to offset approximately 25kWh of Eskom electricity per day. We are currently not harvesting all the electricity efficiently as the swimming pool pump has not been working due to repairs to the pool, but the moment the pump is back online we expect to utilise the full 25kWh per day potential.
Our client has recommended us to a friend and we will be reporting on that installation in May, when it is planned to be installed.
5.5kW Solar Pump Controller – Riversdale (Southern Cape)
Our latest project was putting up this solar pump system on a farm in the Southern Cape. The system is sized for a 4kW pump, but for now it is drawing the existing 2.2kW pump. It is delivering 4600 liters of water per hour at a height of 110 meters above the river it is pumping from. The system will save the client in the order of R5000 of diesel per month and deliver more that three times the water volume per month (than they were able to pump with R5000 worth of diesel!)
The generator shown above is what was used for the last months after the Eskom point was disconnected. Out of interest, it was disconnected after the client received a bill inflated by R30 000 one month with no reason given (which he refused to pay…).
Our client did a fantastic job of preparing the site based on the drawings we sent them. All we had to do was put up the horizontal beams that the panels are mounted on and wire everything up.
As you can see from the photos below, it is mighty impressive to get this result on an uneven surface, with warped poles and not using a single leveling spacer.
After a morning of good honest labour, all the panels were up and wired and we could fire up the solar pump controller. And after a little bit of fine tuning under load (and waiting for the rain to subside the came out of nowhere!) we were pumping water. No more Eskom, no more diesel and no more driving 3 km down to the river every day to start the pump.
3kW PV with 8kW inverters Off grid with grid backup – Bergvliet
We were called in to provide solar panels and install the solution for our client in Bergvliet. Our client was interested in thin film panels specifically. The panels are performing well and we will have the opportunity to compare them with poly crystalline panels soon as the plan is to add 1.5kW of PV power to the existing 3kW setup. There is ample battery power to handle the charging currents (20 x 150Ah, 12V AGM batteries). This is going to be a very interesting situation to monitor. The whole house is connected to the two parallel (4kW each) inverters, including the stove and the solar geyser’s element.
We are grateful to our client for referring more people from the Southern Suburbs to us and it looks like we will be doing much more business in the area. Word of mouth is certainly the best form of advertising, which keeps us on our toes to ensure total client satisfaction and after sales service at all times.
5.4kW Off grid with grid backup – Durbanville
Our client contacted us to assist with an existing battery / inverter setup that was installed by himself for loadshedding purposes. We measured the loads in the house and recommended 30kWh of battery storage (10 – 12kWh usable) with a minimum of 4.5kW of PV. The new batteries were installed and initially we were asked to put 3.6kW of panels up. This worked really well during the summer months and as winter approached, we were approached to add another 1.8kW of PV. The system now runs like a dream, our client is very happy and only goes back to Eskom for some assistance during really bad sun conditions.
3kW Off grid with grid backup – Paarl
There was a bit of a delay with getting the municipal power connected to this new home and the owner asked us to add solar to the backup system we were going to put in. We installed the system approximately 6 weeks before they moved in, which was great for the carpenters and other craftsmen working in the house to get it ready. 8 Months later, the owner still has not had Eskom power connected, claiming that they have more than they need. This will change in winter, but it goes to show how far you can get with a relatively basic system.
A note on the batteries:
As with many of our clients, we install relatively cheap batteries, that will last 3 – 5 years, depending on how they are used. The reasoning is that by that time the battery technology will be affordable and more reliable and will be a good time to invest in a battery bank that will last for 10+ years With the advance in and local availability of lithium battery technologies that strategy is starting to give way for putting in the really good stuff now.