How to Solar Power Your Home / House #1 – On Grid vs Off Grid

yeah hello everyone and welcome to this
series we're going to talk about how to power your home or house from solar
power now first of all i have to say thanks
very much to xodar who are sponsoring this series as you have known if you
followed any other of my videos David of X earlier and his company
kindly donated all his time to install solar power of my house and what I like
about XLR and and the companies that for one that have a great choice and variety
in terms of products and brands David himself like me enjoys tinkering
and finding solutions to problems so he enjoys very much getting involved in the
technology and making it work well so I certainly appreciate the input
now today what I'm going to do this whole series is going to cover off from
deciding whether you want an onboard system and off-grid system the types of
solar panels where to have a charge controller or a grid tie inverter or
micro inverters battery bank the solar panels that cost involved isn't worth
that the complications of doing this in south africa vs somewhere like Europe or
the states so they're going to be quite a few few videos covering that off and
what I ask you is that as I start these videos start posting your comments and
questions as we go along and armor training corporate there's into the
videos as they go along by all means if the video series has
been completed or something has been cut off and you slap a question post a comment and I'll do my best to
answer for you and it's worth posting a video on it I will do what we're going to start
today though it is getting understanding all on grid this is off grid but before I walk you
through this little picture and and discuss on grid vs off grid and what the
grid is and let me just show you some of the equipment so that you are familiar
with what I'm talking about when I shade this diagram and then we'll get down and explain it
ok so let's start off by looking at these solar panels we are going to talk
about these in detail later on a narwhal might even refer you to some other
videos that up maybe I talk about the performance of the different types of
solar panels under different conditions so the one thing to note that today you
can get cheaper panels from china and what have you but you want to be aware
that if you do want to use your panels with high voltage systems which is
something we'll talk about you have to consider the quality the build quality
and how they put together and that's something we'll talk about in terms of
the gaps with the connectors we're also going to talk about
monocrystalline this is poly crystalline and amorphous and which seemed to
perform better under what conditions this is an MPPT charge controller so
it's a maximum power point tracking charge controller and this device is
something our point out which is especially useful in off-grid systems as
it takes the power from the solar panels it converts it does a dcd to DC
conversion service at the right voltage for your battery bank to charge a set of
batteries this can't supply power directly to your
house and that's why this particular unit is more unit is more useful in
off-grid systems but we'll have a look that when we come to the actual diagram
itself right so here we have the grid tie inverter this inverter takes the
solar power directly from the solar panels and converts it to your mains
electricity to feed your house directly or even to feed back onto the grid so this this unit here is the grid tie
inverter and this is a normal inverter so this doesn't take power directly from
the solar panels per se it can be fit from this we can pick up energy from the
grid tie and it can use it but this is used to take power from a battery bank
and convert that to a sea parte y or how so it can also charge the actual battery
bank itself and I just show you down here I've got a large Bank of lead crystal
batteries I've been doing research into different
battery technology to find what is best and our decides to go they Bank of lead
crystal batteries but these are the components again they'll be talking
about in that diagram to that so we get an understanding of how that
all worked together right here we have an energy monitor now the one reason i
bring up the energy monitor is that one of the important things to understand
when you are going to or considering adding solar power to our house you need to understand you need to scope
and size the requirement of your energy source and to do that you need to
understand how much energy using you can of course have a look to a monthly bowl
but ultimately what we want to do in the series as well as have a look at the
different monitoring equipment to either measure your household plat power all
the individual power requirements for each of your appliances are we going
through the ways that you can do that with the different types of modern
monitors and measuring equipment now the other thing that will also be
talking about in the system particularly when it comes to understanding the solar
energy in South African context is the prepaid meter the different type of
energy meters at your power company can provide you with and the potential
challenges that they can pose so this is off see the power company
energy meter this is a battery monitor and a lot of
this equipment what i will do for the more advanced people as i'm going to go
into individual tutorials on how on how these work and how you can configure
them because these have lots of configuration parameters to make them
work properly so that you can monitor your your installation correctly right one of the other things we will be
talking about is how to make your house run more efficiently because the more
efficient you make your house run the less power you need from your solar
system which is going to tends to be expensive so here what I've
done in our house this is that kitchen we used to have a
set of big fluorescent tubes which threw up a lot of energy and these are LED
tubes now that these only use a third of the
power that an all set of fluorescent tubes use but there are some downsides
that need to be considered with LED lighting of this kind i have a LED
lighting and in my house and i'm sure i'll walk you through that and try and
show you when LED lighting is appropriate or not and also cfl lighting
as well we also then have a look at different
monitoring software to understand how were your solar rays actually performing I monitor my cell array just because I'm
entry to understand what daily power I'm getting from my solar array out of
interest i've got a 82 2250 what array on the roof and at the moment at the
beginning of spring if I have a a full day of sun i'll get
about 12.8 kilowatt hours out of that array on a bad day yesterday we had a
day when it was overcast and raining I still managed to get about 6.8
kilowatt hours out of it so this is something which to understand
to understand how well your system is going to perform at different times of
the year so again at this assist you with sizing
your rate cater for whether you want to actually generate money from your system
or just power your house and to understand can you power your house and
they're cloudy conditions and how will perform under winter ok so let's get down and have a look at
the the first set of basic things to understand and that is an onboard system
versus off-grid system so let's have a look at a typical on
grid system and the components and potentially have it all hang together so
first of all when we talk about on grid we're talking the grid would be your
electrical power company or in the case of south africa with say is calm because
we have a national power company there is no competition it's just one supplier but the grid feed basically the
electricity feed which comes into your house as AC power and that can be in the
states will be a hundred and ten volts or inside baskets – 20 or in in the UK is 240 so that is your main grid feed into your
house now to get solar power on to all grid-connected house you could then have a solar panel which
is installed on your roof or on your property somewhere it can then feed a grid tie inverter now
remember i pointed out that grid tie inverter what they're great time voted
does it takes the direct current DC power that comes from your solar panel
and it directly converts it to AC power which can directly power your house now this is probably one of the cheapest
and most efficient ways of having a system power you're using solar power to
power your house the other option is to use as i pointed
out that MPPT charge controller you could have that these dotted lines
I've got going to a that what I've noted use a flex max which is that the model
of the charge controller i have so it could feed a charge controller which
then charges a banker batteries that bank of batteries would then have to go
through a separate big inverter which if you remember I also pointed that and
that would then convert that to AC power to power your house now what's the
problem with this system for one you gave every time you go through a device
like a and an inverter or through a set of batteries you're going to have losses
which are going to make your your system or inefficient so in this case if you didn't have the
good time vert and you went went through your your charge charge controller you
began through there you would have losses over here you then putting power into battery
which has resistance and losses when you put it in at then has to come out of
that battery their losses through another inverter their losses before it
go into an feed your house now these
systems in terms of using batteries for the most part if you don't need you
don't want to use batteries because they cost a lot of money you can after
replace them every couple of every three to five years and issued by really
expensive bank of batteries which can last 15 to 20 years you want batteries if you you want to
cater for a power outage from the grid so if the grid fails then you have a
backup source to power house when there's no grid now in South Africa we
have an aging grid Network which hasn't been maintained so that's one reason why
i installed the a bank of batteries to cover for outages also because at this
point in time because i cannot feed back onto the grid I want to make the most use out of the
solar power which is coming which is installed on my house our household during the day probably uses takes too long on average
at about 800 2000 watts but I've got 2,200 what's installed on our roof so
that can be hand because on a cloudy day even if there's a drop in the power of
the roof I can still run my house but I'm then
losing honest bright sunny day I'm losing the potential of all that power
because i cannot feed it back to the Griffin and gain credit for it so what I do is I charge I go through a
grid tie inverter which is far more efficient than going through a charge
controllers that directly goes through the grid tie inverter and feeds my house
any excess power is in pulled through the bigger inverter and charge the bank
of batteries that means at night time I can then use
that excess power charge stored up in the batteries and feed that back into
the house at night so i'm not using the grid and again when the morning comes I
then use that excess power to recharge the battery bank that as I said that's
expensive you can get away and reduce the cost cost of your system by literally just
having a big bank of solar panels and a great time vertor and for the most part
in the States and Europe those are the types of systems that they
use and I'm her foot refer you to a link of one of my viewers called Matt he's
just installed a five point two kilowatt around his house and it's a wonderful
production he does some aerial photography and I if you're interested
do go and have a look because it really is a nice installation but what I want
to point out is Matt makes use of another technology which is quite
interesting you can see I've got a note about micro
inverters now what you can do I have one grid tie inverter for a whole Bank of
nine solar panels those solar panels have to be our connect had to be
carefully connected so that they they they push the path through to the good
verte inverter in the most efficient way so that you maximize the power coming
off them they are connected in series so it means if any one of those panels is
shaded or is not ultimately pointed to the Sun it can draw down the power of
the whole Bank of solar panels now that is something I you you have to
be careful with with installation and something after live with because for
one we don't we don't here in South Africa have a big market of micro
inverters but on Matt's installation you can have he has one small inverter / solar panel
and that means you get the maximum efficiency from each and every solar
panel and if you have a problem with either one solar panel or in fact if you
have a failure on my system of the single grid tie everything goes down if
you have a micro inverter on each and every solar panel you can still have a
failure and have the whole the rest of your rate up and working but just the
one side panel or inverter will be down so let's just talk about feeding back
onto the grid in our deal situation what you want to do with your excess power as
opposed to trying to pump it into a battery bank you want to feed it back to
the grid so that you can great gain credit or even and money back from your
power company for doing that and for the most part in Australia in Europe and the
US you can do that here in South Africa unfortunately we're a bit behind the
times we are playing catch-up it's about to happen their battle bringing this
thing called net metering which is what their you do is the meter is a meter to
understand what you use and what you feedback in some cases no money
exchanges hands you just gain credit for to push back and then at night for
instance you use that could you pull back off the grid and use that credit
that you had the best way to look at that is to try and understand how that
will work over a year because obviously you have to account for winter and you
may generate a lot more power and summer and then be pulling back more during the
winter months and so you need to try and size your array appropriately if that's
what you want to do in South Africa we have these prepaid meters so at the
moment we have to have an intelligence system that disconnects the grid when I
have access pass that doesn't feedback and that i use it internally in the
house there are we what we can go into a
discussion on how to intelligent to use that power whether it's pushing into the
back to bank or intelligent load diversion by low diversion I mean switching your low to either heat
up your geezer with the excess power or switch on your pool pump when you've got
the excess power so that you don't waste any of your excess energy from your
solar panel right so let's now look have a look at it off the grid system now
certainly in South Africa this is probably at this point in time one of
the areas where people are willing to spend money on fault photovoltaic power generally speaking if you have if you
have a farm or a holiday cottage which is off the beaten track in the mountains
and it's going to cost a lot of money to bring the grid to your house it's far more cost-efficient – then
bring in a system a a solar power system which can solar power your house
independently now in the on the grid system one does want to be careful and
calculate if you really want to power your house as much as you can you need
to carefully calculate what your power requirement is but sometimes it's not
that critical if you get to have the grid connected because you can always
get power for grid you can always increase your power
requirement over time as you have money but in off the grid system you need to
have enough power to power the house entirely because there is no grid so that's what you need to understand
calculate the power requirement of your lighting any heating cooking
entertainment systems and try and make them run as efficiently as possible the infinite the potential efficiencies
that you gain in the house will say it will save you money three times over and
the reason for that is that any extra power you need needs to be k – cated for potentially in more solar
panels potentially in a bigger inverter or charge controller and then a larger
battery bank so that's why it's far cheaper to make
your house run more efficiently that have to spend the extra money in three
extra places to provide the extra power for your house now in off the grid
system one can potentially operate far more efficiently foremost grid connected
systems you have to cater for appliances that are running at 220 volts or mains
and as I said each time you start going through a charge controller or batteries
or an inverter you start losing efficiency and off the grid system in an
ideal world what you want to do is have your solar panel bringing your your your
power you go through your charge controller which you need to do because
you need to control the amount of charge which
goes into your battery bank an MPPT charge controller makes the collection
of power of your solar panel far more efficient i have a video which explains in ppt
which I'll link to over here but once you've got the power coming into your
battery you potentially have the option in and off the grid system to try and
run as match of the household off let's say at 12 or 24 volt 40 volts or 48 volt
system for instance if you have a 12-volt system you could potentially
power you're down lighters and lighting directly from that 12 volt that means is
no inverting it means it's a far more efficient use of the power coming from
your your power source of the battery bank of course you may have to introduce
an inverter as I've got here so that you might be able to partially round some
things of 12 volt but then you also might have some
appliances or entertainment systems which need mains voltage either 110 or
220 and then you'll take those through an inverter and into your house so that's an off-the-grid system where
you don't have the grid feeding your house right side I do hope that kind of gives a good
start or introduction into solar power and in terms of showing the different
some of the different components and off-grid vs on grid there's lots more to discuss and a lot
of the questions which have imposed to me so far and particularly in for the south
african market is is it financially viable going this route at the moment
and what I plan to do is I'm really trying to do some calculations to show
what systems could potentially be fired viable at the moment in South Africa the one thing for me that is quite
important is at the moment people need to realize it over the last
four years since 2008 our electricity prices are probably doubled they're
going to double again with them the next three to five years we also
have the issue that's not enough money has been invested on on our pirate and I
think potentially the same might be from what I hear the state's might even
suffer from the same problem they have an aging good as well now if you do have those issues that
potentially you're going to have more power outages and then the the financial
viability might seriously by be that way nikon inconvenience if you don't have
electricity in South Africa we've got a tiered system for what you pay for
electricity so if you use less electricity the
number of kilowatt-hours you use per month become cheaper as you step up and
start using about more than a hundred and 50 kilowatt hours which of course
most families wouldn't would be using more like six hundred two thousand
kilowatt hours plus once you start bringing your your keyboard usage below
those certain thresholds you stop paying a lot less per kilowatt hour so my goal
for my system was to get below 600 kilowatt hours I was easily using a
thousand kilowatt hours eight hundred thousand kilowatt hours and I bring mind
below 600 Lord hours I suddenly save a lot more money so
we're going to go to a discussion about that we also potentially where it becomes
more viable particular folks in Europe and the states is that you get rebates
for your systems in South Africa we don't so as I said please do post your
questions they were going to cover of things like
power factor someone raised a very interesting point about power factor
normally power factor is something you don't have to worry about in a private
residence because path factor isn't measured by your metering system and the
if you have a bad path back to your house it is the electricity company that takes
a knock that's different for big industry
however if you're generating you our own power does power factor play a
part and potentially it does and that's something we'll investigate so it's they stop posting comments about
the questions that you might have would like to see answered and i'll certainly
be going too far more detail all the individual components to show what part
that play and the different options and pros and cons of each each of them
anywhere thank you very much for following the
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