Since my first attempt at solar, I have learnt a few things and several new bits of tech have been introduced into the market. Some of the new tech include; all-in-one inverters, bigger “better” batteries, shingled solar panels and micro-inverters…
An all-in-one solar inverters can include the following functions in a single device;
- Solar Controller – MPPT (2x string inputs)
- Inverter – Converts DC (48v) to AC (pure sine wave @230v, 50 hertz)
- Battery Charger –
- from Grid (AC -> DC)
- from Solar Panels (DC -> DC)
- ATS / Line mode – Flicks over to Grid if solar or batteries are low
- BMS, Timers and Controls – Can program battery types, priorities and timers depending on how you want to power your loads and utilize your batteries.
- Stats / Alerts – WIFI enabled
I have committed to an 8kW PV all-in-one inverter. My house doesn’t have a north-facing roof, but it has a NE and NW facing roof which isn’t too bad, the bonus of having 2 string feeds on the inverter means that each side of the roof will act independently without dragging down the total power output.
I’m currently running a few lead-acid batteries on my solar. I’ve been in two minds about whether I continue with batteries or go with a hybrid system that effectively uses the grid as a battery. I ended up deciding to go with batteries one last time, here in NZ the solar rebate is not really worth the effort of exporting – we typically get wholesale prices which can be 1/3 of the cost of power. I’ve also been pretty excited about how quickly the new LiFePO batteries can charge and discharge, so I’ve committed to a couple of 48v PylonTech batteries in a stack, totaling 7kWh.
They can peak at 100A (15s) but the recommended rate is 37A each. At 48v this will give me a charge / discharge power rate of 3.55kW (37A x 48V x2) in total. In some cases it may be beneficial to charge with cheaper off-peak power from the grid.
Singled solar panels are pretty nice, with more surface area and better resiliency. I found a 480W mono Hyundai panel which I’ll use to build 2 strings of 4 panels. In total, this gives me 3.84kW (480W x 4 x 2)
In terms of power, for my next venture I decided to stay with the more traditional DC solar panels. There is however another choice thanks to the introduction of micro-inverters. These little devices convert power on each panel direct to AC, which includes several advantages (higher voltage, operate in parallel (independent of other panels). Each also has its own sensors if you want to see stats!
The next sections – powering things, ROI, the build, safety