Where to Start with Your Solar
Stand Alone Solar Training
If you are new to Stand Alone (off grid) solar, we recommend the courses run by Glen at SolarQuip near Healesville, Victoria. They have great facilities and can demonstrate the many options available.
Clean Energy Reviews
Another good place to start is to research what is on the market. The Clean Energy Review Web Site has details of batteries and solar panels. The link below takes you to their site.
Fronius Symo Gen24 Plus Hybrid Inverter
Solar backup with or WITHOUT batteries installed!
Battery Ready Hybrid Inverters
Hybrid inverters usually combine a solar inverter and battery inverter in the one unit. They are different to stand alone (off grid) inverters in that they do not provide a generator input or remote start. The power they provide with mains failure is also often limited compared to a stand alone multimode inverter. Many stand alone inverters such as Selectronics SP Pro can be used off grid and on-grid.
If you are considering batteries for either blackout protection or to enable the use of your solar at night, consider some of the following inverters. Keep in mind though, that they have limited power; if your loads are too high during a blackout they will turn off. Often the switchboard is segregated into protected and non protected loads to prevent the inverter being overloaded during a blackout. You may be better off with a standby generator (diesel, gas, hydrogen cell or petrol) or off grid inverter if you have large loads that you require during a mains failure.
The Fronius Gen24 Primo and Symo Plus inverter (single & three phase) can provide solar power backup when the mains fails even without batteries installed. They offer an EPS system (emergency power supply). There will be a brief interruption to the power when the mains fails. When they are operating in backup mode they monify the output frequency to 53Hz, this allows us to install a frequency monitoring relay that switches off large loads in backup mode to prevent the inverter shutting down. Fronius is a true innovator in the solar industry. They have been offering an extended warranty up to 10 years when you register online. The battery and inverter can be installed separate (BS).
Goodwe’s ES (single phase) and ET (three phase) inverters can provide a UPS system (Uninterrupted Power Supply) as well as allow you to utilise your solar power at night. These inverters can be installed with or without a battery. However, they require a battery for you to use the solar when the mains fails. GoodWe have up to a 5 year warranty for their hybrid inverters when it is registered and online (warranty period starts from 6 months after date of manufacture, or date of install, which ever is earlier). The battery and inverter can be installed separate (BS).
As with most of the hybrid inverters, the GoodWe inverters can be installed without panels and charge the batteries using energy surplus from an existing inverter’s panels or use the grid to charge the batteries. This is often an economical way to add batteries to an existing installation without having room on the roof for additional panels.
Another even more budget friendly inverter that will provide backup in the event of a power failure is the Alpha ESS hybrid inverter. They come in a variety of sizes and cater to different budgets. Like most of the lithium iron phosphate batteries, Alpha ESS also provides a 10 year warranty, up to 5 year warranty on the inverter component. The battery and inverter are installed as one unit (BESS).
Due to the value offered with Alpha ESS’s battery energy storage systems, they can be a great way to upgrade an existing lead acid off-grid system with additional lithium batteries.
Power Nework Pre-Approval
Below is a link to SP Ausnet’s Pre-approval page for solar. They cover most of the Eastern Suburbs. They often approve 5kW of solar inverters per phase connected at your house (10kW of panels per phase). United covers the Peninsula and usually allows up to a 10kW inverter per phase. Different networks have different requirements. Look at the map below to check who services your region.
Incentives & Solar Victoria
There are various incentives available for Off Grid (Stand Alone) and Grid Connected customers when using a CEC accredited designer and installer.
Solar Victoria administers the Victorian Government’s Solar Homes Program. There are a wide variety of incentives available for solar and battery installations. Generally, the rebates help you recover up to half of the cost of the system, up to a set value defined by Solar Victoria.
– The Solar Rebate is also available to renters.
– The new Solar for Businesses is higher than the standard Solar Rebate for residential customers.
Take a look at their web site for further information on eligibility and the rates that are gradually reducing.
The Australian Government also provides incentives through the Renewable Energy Target. Depending upon the size of your solar array, Small-Scale Technology Certificates may help to recoup some of the cost of your system. Designers usually size your system to be one and a third times larger than your inverter’s norminal rating in order to maximise these incentives. E.g. a 5kW inverter would have up to 6.66kW of panels.
There are many batteries to choose from. It will depend upon your geography, budget and load requirements. Generally we recommend lithium iron phosphate batteries due to their relative safety compared to other systems. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) is a naturally occurring battery chemistry. We currently don’t recommend lead acid/gel batteries unless you are in an alpine region and need to charge the batteries at a very low temperature. Lead acid and gel batteries take up a lot of room and will degenerate even if not used.
Power Plus are based in Victoria. They manufacture both low voltage (120V) and extra low voltage (48V) lithium batteries. They provide excellent features and are a great lead acid battery replacement for older inverters.
As with PowerPlus, GenZ also manufacture lithium iron phosphate batteries with an exceptional warranty and surge capacity. This type of battery has its own battery management built into the battery. It is therefore suitable for connection to charge controllers and AC coupled inverters.
BYD manufacture high and low voltage lithium iron phosphate batteries that are compatible with the Fronius Gen 24 and Goodwe ET series inverters. Their higher voltage batteries are very efficient and can be placed further from the inverter seeing the battery cables can be much smaller than a regular 48V system.
BYD HVS Modular Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery