New off grid design for Hawaii

KalJusKalJus Registered Users Posts: 9 ✭✭
New to the community, and solar as well. Have experience with DC circuits, understand basics like difference between energy and power, Ohm's Law, etc. One area I am a complete beginner in is batteries. Been reading everything I can find and now want to stick my neck out and have some conversations with experienced people. Looking forward to being an active member here.

My family of four are building a new home that is over a mile from public services. This is on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii. Deciding to go off grid solar is both practicality (even if we paid a fortune to receive service, rates are over $0.30/kWh and tied to fuel imports) as well as personal values and beliefs.

My goal was to get us to be 100% solar, without propane, for a budget of $30,000. Labor would just be me and maybe some friends help with things like installing the ground mounted array. We currently live close to the building site and our energy use is about 12kWh a day. This includes everything (standard HW heater, catchment pump, electric clothes dryer and washer, lights, gadgets, fans, etc) and the only thing it doesn't include is an electric range. I have estimated this will add about 1.5kWh/day (may seem low but we eat a very raw diet)). In addition I will have some needs for a workshop and have estimated that at about 5-6kWh/day. So I am shooting for 20kWh of energy, and would rather overshoot.

Peak sun hours a day in winter are 4 (maybe like 4.2). Array will just be ground mounted (very large property). The vast majority of our load is during daylight. We don't cook or do laundry at night, are a television free home, and are in bed by 10pm (Kindles or a couple LED lights after that). In addition to that we have no problem adjusting our usage with the weather, such as putting laundry off for a sunny day. We also tend not to run fans on cloudy days. If we have extra production on sunny days we would use that for possibly a dehumidifier or charging batteries for some farm equipment. In our climate we get over 160 inches of rain but it usually blows through pretty quickly. Most solar residents I have talked to have not had a problem planning around 4 sun hours and adjusting usage with the weather.

As I mentioned before by not using propane it does place large resistive loads on the system (range, clothes dryer, hot water), as well as surge by inductive loads like a catchment pump. So in designing my challenge has been not the amount of energy (20kWh/day) but peak power needs. I need to be able to handle 7500w with a few seconds of surge of 11000w.

For my current draft I arrived at a 8000w array (STC nameplate). I really like the Outback Flexpower Radian FPR-8048A. My main reasons for that is the amazing surge capacity, the ease of my install, and my due diligence on them as a company.

I guess my first question at this point for the experts would be based on my description and these choices does anything jump out that is a potential problem?

My next question probably gets a bit political but I really like the Aquion AHI batteries. Practical reasons are my climate, length of life, ease of use for my situation (being ok with running on battery for 3 overcast days and maybe only partially charging on day 4, etc). I won't get too far off in personal reasons but I would say I like where the technology is headed and voting with our dollars is the biggest voice we have. I was eyeing using one M110-LS83 Module as the capacity would fit my needs. The first issue I am seeing is that it is rated for "9.6kW peak power" and that won't fit my surge requirement of 11kW. I am unsure how much of the overload capacity on the GS8048A is handled internally by capacitors, but I assume it is not more than a few milliseconds. Therefore it appears I would need to move from 12 Aquion stacks to 18 just to meet my need for peak power.

That is as far as I have gotten. Open to all input and suggestions, appreciate everyone who took the time to read through this.

Cheers!
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Comments

  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2016 #2
    My family of four are building a new home that is over a mile from public services. This is on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii. Deciding to go off grid solar is both practicality (even if we paid a fortune to receive service, rates are over $0.30/kWh and tied to fuel imports) as well as personal values and beliefs.

    Welcome to the thirty cent club.  Its the same throughtout NZ. Even though our grid is only 100m away teh connect charge was going to be 30K. That combined with a similar "independent spirit" was enough to tip us off grid. However be clear about the cost effectiveness, off grid can go 40 to 80 cents a kWh. Pretty much all in the regular battery replacement.

    My goal was to get us to be 100% solar, without propane, for a budget of $30,000.

    From what youve said below i think your budget may be a tad shy. I know propane is a pita, but its a dense form of energy quite well suited to heating. Theres also the issue that when you most need heat, you have the least sun*. However...

    Labor would just be me and maybe some friends help with things like installing the ground mounted array. We currently live close to the building site and our energy use is about 12kWh a day. This includes everything (standard HW heater, catchment pump, electric clothes dryer and washer, lights, gadgets, fans, etc) and the only thing it doesn't include is an electric range. I have estimated this will add about 1.5kWh/day (may seem low but we eat a very raw diet)). In addition I will have some needs for a workshop and have estimated that at about 5-6kWh/day. So I am shooting for 20kWh of energy, and would rather overshoot.

    20kWh/day is certainly up there for off grid. Most people find conserving power to be much cheaper than producing it with solar. So be sure you cant reduce this is the first mission.

    Peak sun hours a day in winter are 4 (maybe like 4.2). Array will just be ground mounted (very large property). The vast majority of our load is during daylight. We don't cook or do laundry at night, are a television free home, and are in bed by 10pm (Kindles or a couple LED lights after that). In addition to that we have no problem adjusting our usage with the weather, such as putting laundry off for a sunny day. We also tend not to run fans on cloudy days. If we have extra production on sunny days we would use that for possibly a dehumidifier or charging batteries for some farm equipment. In our climate we get over 160 inches of rain but it usually blows through pretty quickly. Most solar residents I have talked to have not had a problem planning around 4 sun hours and adjusting usage with the weather.

    So what your getting at is minimal battery? Apart from the problem noted above(*), just remember that the battery also has to support the surge loading of the inverter. LFP, LNM and etc are good for this. Sodium ion is AFAIK a low C rate tech. Something to be aware of.

    As I mentioned before by not using propane it does place large resistive loads on the system (range, clothes dryer, hot water), as well as surge by inductive loads like a catchment pump. So in designing my challenge has been not the amount of energy (20kWh/day) but peak power needs. I need to be able to handle 7500w with a few seconds of surge of 11000w.
    For my current draft I arrived at a 8000w array (STC nameplate). I really like the Outback Flexpower Radian FPR-8048A. My main reasons for that is the amazing surge capacity, the ease of my install, and my due diligence on them as a company.

    Not unreasonable given your spec. Many of us are Outback fans (at least until Midnites own inverters arrive). The Radians have given a little more trouble than the FX line, and if this was me i would also be seriously looking at the Schneider XW as well.

    I guess my first question at this point for the experts would be based on my description and these choices does anything jump out that is a potential problem?

    Just the budget so far. Your system isnt unusual in the sense that lots of upmarket remote lodges have systems of this scale. But our system cost 10K for 3kWh/day three years ago. Subtract a little for excahnge rate, and further price drops, less a little more for your  tropical locale, but add a bit for exotic battery tech, add a bit more becasue big systems attract inspectors and their requirements, add a bit more for pro help slash mistakes you make as a newer installer (assumption, correct me if wrong), and 50K might be a safer ball park?

    My next question probably gets a bit political but I really like the Aquion AHI batteries. Practical reasons are my climate, length of life, ease of use for my situation (being ok with running on battery for 3 overcast days and maybe only partially charging on day 4, etc). I won't get too far off in personal reasons but I would say I like where the technology is headed and voting with our dollars is the biggest voice we have. I was eyeing using one M110-LS83 Module as the capacity would fit my needs. The first issue I am seeing is that it is rated for "9.6kW peak power" and that won't fit my surge requirement of 11kW. I am unsure how much of the overload capacity on the GS8048A is handled internally by capacitors, but I assume it is not more than a few milliseconds. Therefore it appears I would need to move from 12 Aquion stacks to 18 just to meet my need for peak power.

    These are starting to show up in the field. The main issue i have with them is just how little data there is floating about them, both in terms of track history and real world perfomance. Youll also need to consider freight, given their size and weight, for instance getting them to NZ would make them a non starter right off the bat. Im not sure what their Hawaii charges are like. But, i agree the whole idea is appealing, and someone has to go first.

    BTW dont forget the DC to AC loss. Inverters are AC rated, thus 11kW AC is 11kW/0.85 is 13kW DC.
    Also be cautious in your surge estimation, there are four+ of you and its not terribly hard for those that arnet terribly engineering inclined to switch stuff on, stuff you plan to have that draws some serious amps.  Range cranked up, plus dryer, plus water heater, plus kettle, plus vacuum,  thats 15kW right there. Youll need some clever mitigation measures to avoid those sort of clashes.

    It might be worth having a bit a gander at some of the similar system threads:


    These are just a couple that spring to mind.










    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • KalJusKalJus Registered Users Posts: 9 ✭✭
    Thanks @zoneblue for taking the time to respond in so much detail, it is greatly appreciated. I looked through your blog (from signature) and particularity liked the DIY ground mount, I was brainstorming similar ideas myself and also have high winds (hurricanes). How has that mount held up so far?

    However be clear about the cost effectiveness, off grid can go 40 to 80 cents a kWh.

    I am aware of this. Based on my own research and various technology fields I have worked in I also feel that cost is going to be much lower in the future (all the investments being put into storage technology for one). But I accept the rates today and had assumed $1/kWh.

    20kWh/day is certainly up there for off grid. Most people find conserving power to be much cheaper than producing it with solar. So be sure you cant reduce this is the first mission.

    Agree 100% with this advice, reducing our consumption (not just in electric) has been a passion for the last couple years. It is still a work in progress. Things we can still improve on is the fridge (currently a rental home with horrible old one). We try to stay away from the clothes dryer but the humidity is so high most of the year here that line drying is rough. I also haven't been able to get an individual reading on the hot water heater as my "Kill A Watt" is only for 120VAC. The new homestead will also have solar hot water and that should help some. The hardest thing (also on water because we use rain catchment) is when you have guests that are not used to being conscious about what they use.

    Subtract a little for excahnge rate, and further price drops, less a little more for your  tropical locale, but add a bit for exotic battery tech, add a bit more becasue big systems attract inspectors and their requirements, add a bit more for pro help slash mistakes you make as a newer installer (assumption, correct me if wrong), and 50K might be a safer ball park?

    When I first started on this exercise I felt $30k was going to be possible, but I agree it looks like $50k would be a better estimate. And yes I probably would pay a pro to at least glance at my plans on paper and then do a visual inspection before coming online.

    At this point it appears it would be hard for me to justify the dollars just to avoid using propane. Might be a better bet to go with a smaller solar system and design for the possibility of moving the propane devices (stove, water, dryer) when pricing makes it more practical. It will also save me elsewhere as I can just go 120 VAC instead of 240. And the added benefit of being able to cook and shower if electric is down. One risk on my list was propane becoming hard (or expensive) to get if lava cuts off my area from the main towns, but I could mitigate that by storing a bit more propane and maybe having a backup hot plate for cooking. That may sound paranoid but living in lava zone 1 on a volcano it is a legitimate community concern, as all of the off grid relies heavily on propane, many just run propane generators as needed without any PV.

    BTW dont forget the DC to AC loss. Inverters are AC rated, thus 11kW AC is 11kW/0.85 is 13kW DC.

    Excellent!I had not been taking that into account with my mental calculations, 15% loss is notable ;)

    I will start to chew on a smaller system with propane and be sure to share what I come up with. I am still leaning toward the AHI batteries, but as you said little to find online to lean on, so it would require more faith. Might be worth going with a cheaper traditional bank first and give AHI some more time.

    Again thanks @zoneblue, cheers!
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,153 ✭✭✭✭
    AS for cutting back, aim for 5 Kwh per day,... our rough out came to +- 3Kwh/day and it is doable for 2 people fairly easily, what with LED lights and improved efficiency of off the shelf modern fridges, the real high efficiency ones are hard to justify... just have to stay away from that stove... and dryer.... and DHW.  Have fun!
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    Thanks @zoneblue for taking the time to respond in so much detail, it is greatly appreciated. I looked through your blog (from signature) and particularity liked the DIY ground mount, I was brainstorming similar ideas myself and also have high winds (hurricanes). How has that mount held up so far?

    Its held up fine, no real warping or cracking, i think thanks to the duplicate rails. The panels have survived two decent hail storms, and one near lightening hit. Theres a few timber based rack designs floating around here. There was one on the midnite forum i really liked, used a bit more timber, but was a simpler design and also looked nice. Ill see if i can find it.

    At this point it appears it would be hard for me to justify the dollars just to avoid using propane. Might be a better bet to go with a smaller solar system and design for the possibility of moving the propane devices (stove, water, dryer) when pricing makes it more practical.

    The costings do produce some odd things. My plan was (and still is) to implement hot water opportunity heating, but everytime i cost it, the payback is yuck. To do it, i need a mains pressure cylinder, and an ondemand gas califont water heater that has variable gas flow. Our present califont is a simpler fixed gas flow unit. The cost of those two items, new, is about 3K. That buys a ton load of propane, considering we only use about $30 every 8 weeks for the water heater.

    Excellent!I had not been taking that into account with my mental calculations, 15% loss is notable ;)

    I decent inverter will run close to 0.9 when working hard, but we use 0.85 as a catch all. It covers a few sins.

    Hey good luck and stay in touch. We also live on a volcano that is suppose to blow every 200 years but hasnt for 300...


    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I have been specializing with systems that do not use generators for 10 years and living offgrid with a generator back 24 years.
    It is fairly common but you do need to size for the shorter tropical days when the afternoon rains come in.
    Everyone offgrid has different thoughts on generators. They mostly have never done it or are so frugal that they can't get past the thought of spending money for the long haul. The other reason may be is that they live in a place that will always require a generator,
    you do not!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • KalJusKalJus Registered Users Posts: 9 ✭✭
    Thanks again for everyone who has given input.

    Completely started over by taking a hard look at needs. Did more detailed measurements in the current home as well as planning farm needs, and possibilities in the future to keep in mind. We have decided for sure to go propane on cooking (and boosting hot water after solar).

    New energy requirements are estimated to be 15kWh on the worst day. I say estimated because it is taking into account expanded farm needs. Worst days would be in the summer days with no rain, so the most usage correlates to the most solar radiation available. This is because on cloudy stretches we don't have to move around as much water, we don't run fans in the home, and my wife tries to do laundry when it is drier (meaning sunny). Also in the winter we don't use fans at all. With that being said we do get a LOT of rain (160" a year), every solar installer I have talked to uses 4 peak sun hours when sizing and it seems to work great.

    After starting back over here is what I am thinking:
    • 5,000 Wh PV array (haven't started looking at brands or models yet)
    • Two - Outback FX3048T inverters.
    • Two - Outback FlexMax 80 charge controllers
    • Rest of the guts for the Outback setup like MATE / Hub etc.
    • Aquion’s M110 Module
    I plan on using the TWO FX3048Ts in a series as I only need 120 VAC. That will give me 6kW continuous power, with a surge capability of 12kW (the continuous meets my needs and surge exceeds it).

    I need to research the math more for the FM/80 controllers to see if they can handle the PV array. On the surface it seems fine but I am aware of conditions like the edges of clouds causing above peak performance.

    I am waiting on a reply from Aquion and need to also contact Outback regarding the surge strain on the DC side. The inverters list surge capacity as 6,000W (each so 12kW total), and then the 5 second at 4,800W (each). On the specification sheet the AHI M110 has a continuous rating of 8,100W with a peak of 9,600W. So on the Outback side need to find out if the surge 6kW is handled internally without needing to draw from DC, and on the Aquion side I need to figure out what the max surge rating is and how they define "peak". It appears each stack in the Aquion M110 is fused at 20A and the module is 12 stacks so 12*20= 240A, so my current assumption is that seems ok, just not sure how often you can get above the "peak" without causing harm. Also need to take into account that (from what I can find in the field) the AHI appear to run at lower voltages.

    So that is where I am currently at, just sharing in case I have a huge flaw or maybe lessons from others.

    Cheers!
  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    KalJus said:
    New energy requirements are estimated to be 15kWh on the worst day. I say estimated because it is taking into account expanded farm needs. Worst days would be in the summer days with no rain, so the most usage correlates to the most solar radiation available.
    The trick is to determine, in advance, what your "average" day will look like (ok maybe summer and winter as well). The closer you can forsee this the happier the system, and less expense youll have. What you dont want to do (unless you have deep pockets) is the old engineering adage, double it and double it again...

    every solar installer I have talked to uses 4 peak sun hours when sizing and it seems to work great.
    Ditto, the metservices of the world just go mad keeping irradiance data to the nth degree of detail.

    After starting back over here is what I am thinking:
    • 5,000 Wh PV array (haven't started looking at brands or models yet)
    • Two - Outback FX3048T inverters.
    • Two - Outback FlexMax 80 charge controllers
    • Rest of the guts for the Outback setup like MATE / Hub etc.
    • Aquion’s M110 Module
    ... I need to research the math more for the FM/80 controllers to see if they can handle the PV array. On the surface it seems fine but I am aware of conditions like the edges of clouds causing above peak performance.
    Its a slightly unintuitive fact of life for mppt charge controllers, but they dont "handle" (like PWM), but they utelise. That is to say that when the string calculator says you need 1.1 controllers in bright red font with exclamation marks, its not the end of the world, not even close. They current limit.  In that situation it would clip a little on the odd day that you still happen to be max bulking at midday. You might however consider Classics, as they can do 96 Amps, if it you want to harvest every drop, and they also be quite cost competitive by avoiding FNDC, Hub etc. WBJr functionality is really a must have.


    I am waiting on a reply from Aquion and need to also contact Outback regarding the surge strain on the DC side. The inverters list surge capacity as 6,000W (each so 12kW total), and then the 5 second at 4,800W (each). On the specification sheet the AHI M110 has a continuous rating of 8,100W with a peak of 9,600W. So on the Outback side need to find out if the surge 6kW is handled internally without needing to draw from DC, and on the Aquion side I need to figure out what the max surge rating is and how they define "peak". It appears each stack in the Aquion M110 is fused at 20A and the module is 12 stacks so 12*20= 240A, so my current assumption is that seems ok, just not sure how often you can get above the "peak" without causing harm. Also need to take into account that (from what I can find in the field) the AHI appear to run at lower voltages.

    Im guessing that an inverter will handle surge partly from magnetics and partly from the source. But I wouldnt be too concerned about surge per se, just focus on the basics.Thatll keep you away from any cliff edges. ie Try to establish what the equivalent rule of thumb for discharge rate is (which is going to be less than those cell level fuses for sure), for FLA lead we say 0.25C for the inverter name plate is a good place to be. IE not higher than that. The surge then takes care of itself. If such a rule isnt easy to obtain then download the discharge curves and see where the voltage drop becomes an issue.



    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,153 ✭✭✭✭
    I know you are trying to go all solar, but you need to look at each day . hour by hour to really know what you will be using when, time of day is important and if the sun comes out , and you have >= 5Kw of panels sitting there you should use some of that power for opportunity loads, and PLAN the charging system so that you have enough PV available to get your bank charged as well.. think out of the box... or stand there and look in...to the box...

    hth

    ps your 15kWh/day is more than my on grid house with 2 freezers and 2 large fridges, 300' well 3/4 hp pump...and NG gas DHW and house heat...and this old computer gobbling up Watts...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • 706jim706jim Solar Expert Posts: 259 ✭✭✭

    You could save yourself a lot of grief by buying a propane tank and using it to run the stove, water heater and clothes dryer.

    You should figure the cost of running just these appliances and run the rest of your stuff off of solar.

    That's what I do at my summer camp at about 10% of the scale that you are considering.

    BTW, a TV is pretty easy to run compared to a stove. We run a 42" LED at our camp for 80 watts; a fraction of what an electric anything will take to boil a small amount of water.

    Island cottage solar system with 2400 watts of panels, 1kw facing southeast 1kw facing southwest 400watt ancient Arco's facing south.Trace DR1524 MSW inverter, Trace C40 PWM controller 8 Trojan L16's. Insignia 11.5 cubic foot electric fridge. My 27th year.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    He has not been back in a couple weeks but I do not get why he is so concerned with surge capacity.  Irrigation pumps?
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • KalJusKalJus Registered Users Posts: 9 ✭✭
    I am still here @Dave Angelini :smile:, other tasks had just taken priority. I still have 4 months or so until I am ready to put in the solar system. You are correct I was concerned about pumps, however as usual I was over estimating, I spent more time on the property and planning and am no longer concerned about the surge. I also met with some neighbors who are using some clever setups with DC pumps.

    At this point I am planning for 15kWh and will probably go with the FlexPower 2 pre-wired setup (6kW FP2 FX3048T). I also still plan on using an Aquion M110. After doing some more math I may increase the 5kW solar array to take advantage of some opportunistic loads in the summer (humid time and can run a dehumidifier in a storage area) and mitigate needing to run a generator in the winter. After that I will just need to plan the details, I will probably have a pro out to look at what I plan on doing, and then once again after I do it before I go hot, but I will do all the work myself.

    @706jim You are correct, much less grief. I have ditched my dream of also being off propane, at least for now :wink:.

    Appreciate everyone being so helpful here!
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I have one client on Maui and one on Kauai and they both run mini-split heat pumps. One has an XW and the other a Radian.  If you need split-phase and I think you really do,  I would say plan on losing the FX series. You are right on the edge of new battery technology being realistic. I do not have much data on Aquion but if I were going to overestimate or overthink anything it would be the battery. They still are very new and Liquid or AGM may be the way to start at this time. Early adapters are often on their own!
    Do you know that you need 15KWH overnight or is this the 24 hour use? They mean completely different math right?
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    For me the choice if not Aquion would be LFP. No brainer, the calendar life bogey is disappearing with each passing day, and otherwise the payback model is solid.
    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Izoneblue said:
    For me the choice if not Aquion would be LFP. No brainer, the calendar life bogey is disappearing with each passing day, and otherwise the payback model is solid.
    I see better data for grid applications. The Offgrid is still  low capacity, limited on Inverter size, and I do not see the actual people relying on it offgrid. Easy to be an early adapter when you have the grid as a back-up!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • KalJusKalJus Registered Users Posts: 9 ✭✭
    @Dave Angelini, why do you suggest against the FX series? I originally liked the Radian but after doing research it seemed the FX's had less trouble. Also locally it seems most are using a dual FX (non vented, and predominantly the pre-wired flexpower 2) and I couldn't find a single complaint. It will provide split phase but at this time my plans are only for 120VAC (nice to have the option though). Just curious if you had a reason to vote against using the FXs?

    I understand I am on the edge and would be an early adopter going with "AHI" storage. I did the majority of my research around this including reaching out to some using it off grid as well as correspondence with Aquion.

    15kWh is 24/hr use and is slightly over estimated (at a level I am comfortable with financially). Vast majority of loads will be during the day.

    As usual thanks for the input @zoneblue, LFP is also a great choice and would be my second.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2016 #17
    Most of the trouble with the Radian is the same as the hybrid XW. They are tied to the grid and have all the settings that are not set right by many installers.  If it were me I would use the XW because they are built to last longer (10 year design life for commercial use)several of mine close to 10 years now), they are field serviceable, and they start any motor I would see in the real residential world. A few other reasons that I keep to myself.  I stopped using the Outbacks as first choice mainly because I think the XW charge controllers are the best. They are far easier to install and change later, especially the HV MPPT.

    I have clients that like Outback and they are a good company with very good customer care and the only ones who build a complete system as Schneider does.

    Are you really going to just use a dehumidifier in Hawaii? Very brave with summer coming. You must be young!  Good Luck!



    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • YehoshuaAgapaoYehoshuaAgapao Solar Expert Posts: 280 ✭✭
    edited March 2016 #18
    Behaviorlly, Radian favors minimizing grid use and effectively be configured to use the grid only when a off-grid inverter would want to use a generator, while the XW favors being grid tied, and will use the grid any time it is connected to it.

    XW is better for off-gridders that are not 100% solar (mixed solar/generator / heavy generator use) because it has way better generator support.


    XW charge controllers are the best when used with a XW inverter because of their coordination/communication.  I wouldn't consider them the best with an outback or other inverter where the communication/coordination doesn't apply (XW uses proprietary canbus communication protocol)


    You can live without A/C in Indonesia. Just need lots of fans.  Indonesia is much like Hawaii but a bit hotter and always summer (mid-80s to upper-90s 24/7/365).
  • KalJusKalJus Registered Users Posts: 9 ✭✭
    Hawaii doesn't have a single climate, our island has 10 itself. For example we live where we get around 160" of rain a year. In two hours I can be where they get 10" a year if lucky. We are at about 300' elevation and in about three hours we can be above 13,000' in a tundra climate. Where we are building the average high (for the year) is between 80 and 84F, the max we had last year was 92. We also have a steady trade wind almost every day. We, and most we know, do just fine with no A/C. Dehumidifier is just for a room to store things that get destroyed by humidity quickly, like books, guitar, etc.

    @YehoshuaAgapao, thanks for the input. I noticed you didn't mention the FX series, do you also have the opinion they aren't as good as an XW?
  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    We from time to time hear of Radian failures. And more than a few SW issues, but as Dave said XW would be a safe path. The V/FX line are also bullet proof, not a single issue has passed this board in the 4 years ive been here. Whether you go Schnieder is something of a philoshopical thing. There tech support is reportedly up there among the the worst in the industry. Mega big company.

    Midnites inverters when they finally arrive... now that will be a thing to behold.
    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I have been there in the summer for months, I could not do it now when it is so easy. I did the tropics for 10 years on a boat so let us just say to each their own. I do love Hawaii.

    Yehoshua,  look at the XW + series and the SW revision. They both are like the Radian in maximizing self consumption. Outback Radian was first but they were not there long.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    My real world experience, concur with Dave re XW + inverters and CCs' for off grid.  My choice again for our recent retrofit.

    Need an experienced installer who is familiar with CAT networked set ups and intial programming.

    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Whatever he does he is lucky to live there.  He can drop me a line and I will help him put the whole thing in from my office here in the mountains. I have done this so many times with my clients that I can do it in my sleep. It really just requires basic handyman skills.

    Did you get the spring in the desert bloom yet Mangas?  I spent last spring down near Tucson and it always is nice around this time after a good rain.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2016 #24

    Setting up our four off grid inverters were a real challenge.  Worked with Canada to get it right.   Need more detailed written nav in their hard copy manuals. 

    Up until January, we've had decent desert mountain winter rains but need more the next couple months for a good wildflower (desert poppy, verbena, etc) show.  Conditions have to be just right and when they are starting in April the mountains are painted bright yellow and purple. 





    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Same here, we were fine in early January with rain and then the Pacific High set in and really nothing since.  It is suppose to be raining right now (weather readers are way off in the southern Sierra this year) but I am pulling in 4KW and heating/pumping water up the hill. All the spring flowers are out about a month early. Arizona is fine with all the vegetables you grow but get ready to pay for ours if you need them. The reservoir below me is at 18%. The ground water is being pumped more than it ever has.

    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2016 #26
    18 percent!  Thought you guys had caught up some. Here comes the dollar radishes.

    We finally recovered some moisture but now the grass inventories are very high.  Great for our livestock but the wildfire risk is now our biggest concern.


    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The Northern Sierra is much better and the April snow pack data will be the ticket.  
    Wildfire is even worse this year for the 5 counties that have the Ponderosa pine bark beetle. They are logging everywhere to try and get some value out, even in liberal California. That is how bad it is!   It is moving north to Tahoe.

    Do you remember who you worked with in Canada for system advice? I know a bunch of those guys. The 3 phase XW's  are not easy either but once they are running they just run. A bunch of machine shops run 3 phase in the mountains. The young kids up here (compared to the big city) can actually do machine work and want to! I think our high school actually teaches them to balance a checkbook and the 401K /IRA thing. 

    Really changing the subject now but I hear the John Stennis battle group is heading in to the south china sea. Cherry thoughts!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2016 #28

    After a lot of back and forth with tech support trying to line everything out, Mike pretty much took charge of our install programming and got us up and running. 

    Senior guy up there I understand.  Knows his stuff and is accessible and patient too. 

    Good to hear these XW Plus' and CC's are reliable.  I was really hesitant about making the retrofit out of the SW Plus inverters which were simply bullet proof these past 10+ years.  Not a technical person, so I don't have any practical knowledge of how well designed and built the new units are and if the technology is better than the old Xantrex Trace. 

    Sidebar, our snow pack is not what it needs to be.  Rains are ok but as you know the wells in the lower valleys depend on the snowpack recharge.  I've seen video clips of what's happening out your way. Pretty dramatic.

    In the old days USFS funded in part theirs ops with timber sales which kept our forests in much better shape.  I think that helped managing the multi-use resource.




    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 4,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The real technical thing to know is the XW is built on DSP or digital signal processing. Almost everything can adapt to new design goals without starting over. The (+) series is the same XW with different cooling and transistor biases. That is how they turned your 5548's from the old xw 4548. Same with the 6848 from the 6048. A bunch of other things also, I am simplifying.  The point is it is easy to do things without changing too much in the production cycle. Xantrex did that design and now with a 100 year old large corporation behind them they are poised to raise my retirement fund value.

    The old SW's and my old Trace before that still works and sits in an exalted corner of the shop. I have 4 burn piles I am watching and I better get back out there! Talk about forest fires.....
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • YehoshuaAgapaoYehoshuaAgapao Solar Expert Posts: 280 ✭✭
    KalJus said:
    Hawaii doesn't have a single climate, our island has 10 itself. For example we live where we get around 160" of rain a year. In two hours I can be where they get 10" a year if lucky. We are at about 300' elevation and in about three hours we can be above 13,000' in a tundra climate. Where we are building the average high (for the year) is between 80 and 84F, the max we had last year was 92. We also have a steady trade wind almost every day. We, and most we know, do just fine with no A/C. Dehumidifier is just for a room to store things that get destroyed by humidity quickly, like books, guitar, etc.

    @YehoshuaAgapao, thanks for the input. I noticed you didn't mention the FX series, do you also have the opinion they aren't as good as an XW?

    I think FX series is good for true off-grid systems with 9-15 panels that do not need generator support.  I think complex setups should use the XW and you certainly should use XW if you need generator support (running small generator long-term).  XW favors everything being the same brand though (inverter, PDP, charge controllers, generator autostarter), strongly favors if grid-tied and selling.
  • KalJusKalJus Registered Users Posts: 9 ✭✭
    Don't have much to update on, still been doing research and learning. I am now disappointed in Aquion for two reasons, first they have provided me very poor pre-sales support (and I suspect that is indicative of poor support after purchase). Second they have just re-branded the batteries to "The Aspen Battery" and reduced the specifications greatly. What used to be 3,000 cycles to 100% DoD is now 3,000 cycles to 30% DoD (they word it "3,000 cycles (to 70% retained capacity)"). I wanted to lean towards the technology but looks like I will be looking elsewhere for storage now. You can view the new specs here: http://aquionenergy.com/homeowners/the-aspen-battery/
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