Living the Dream

Stick it to the Man!

Dream of living a more sustainable lifestyle? At ACDC Energy we have the most innovative Off-Grid and Hybrid solutions available to suit your needs.

Should I be connected to the Grid? ACDC Blog

Off Grid

Live completely off-grid. Use solar power during the day, battery during the night, with a generator backup for bad weather.

Hybrid

Use solar power during the day, battery power at night and mains power when required.

Confused?

Figuring out what you need can be painful. We are making it simpler for you by guiding you through the process. Just take it one step at a time.
Here are the steps we take, to guide you through.

Contact ACDC Energy to speak with one of our rockstar team members

We assess your energy requirements and discuss your motivations for getting battery storage, to figure out what’s right for you.

We design systems to suit your usage, your objectives, and your site requirements.

You receive your quote options and system performance data for your property.

Our Install teams will install the system and provide you with onsite training.

‘Winner of Best System 2018’

Contact ACDC Energy to speak with one of our rockstar team members

We assess your energy requirements and discuss your motivations for getting battery storage, to figure out what’s right for you.

We design systems to suit your usage, your objectives, and your site requirements.

You receive your quote options and system performance data for your property.

Our Install teams will install the system and provide you with onsite training.

Off-Grid Solutions

More and more people are looking to live a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle with a big part being moving their reliance for energy from mains power to solar power. Innovative solar and battery technologies are making it more efficient and a lot cheaper to move off-grid, so there has never been a better time to “Stick it to the Man”.   ACDC energy is an Off-Grid specialist customizing the systems to meet you living needs, whether you want to rough it or live in complete luxury.

Off Grid Living

Living off grid has some drawbacks and some benefits:

For – Independence from the Utilities, Green power to a degree reduced costs against having the Utility install a grid connection.

Against – Costs, lack of technical knowledge, power, and energy restrictions. Sizing and dedicated room of product required, extra safety issues. Some maintenance required over time.

Expectations

Off grid or stand alone living is a life choice. At ADCD Energy we understand and respect your choice. Living off grid is different to living on grid and the same energy and power available when living on the grid will not be available living off the grid. They are two completely different things. 

Your safety is important to yourself and myself. Batteries do require maintenance and can be dangerous if not correctly inspected or looked after.

Battery life span depends upon how high and how low the temperature will get at site and what conditions the batteries are exposed to. Also very importantly what Depth of Discharge (DoD) they are discharged to.

Generators

Ideally you will not need the generator use in  Summer. 

The generator that we suggest you supply is a 2 Wire Auto start generator. The fuel type is diesel. A pure Sinewave with a >5% THD. It is solar ready. 

You will may require a generator that is larger than the inverter size so that the home load can be covered at the same time, the battery bank is charged. It will depend upon which type of off grid inverter you chose.  Generator size to be calculated inline with AS4509. 

The Generator is suitable in size to cover load and charge the battery bank, (when required)

At times the generator will require servicing and maintenance.

 

If you have left the grid and have more than 2 days of bad or inclement weather, you may have to turn off some load if the batteries were totally discharged (empty) and it was a bad weather day (raining) and you were into your 2nd day of this.

 

IE turn off some load to cover load and charge the battery bank from the generator. The only way out of this is to increase your purchase budget (more battery Ah) or continue to run the generator constantly until weather clears.

 As an example you you may need to turn off the Toaster, Washing machine and pressure pump when charging batteries once DoD and Autonomy has been met.

Autonomy

Autonomy means a system has the ability to provide power for a number of hours or days without running the generator i.e. independent of a generator. 

Autonomy is greatly affected by your budget, the battery bank size, the weather and your load.

The more Autonomy, the more costs,  by adding to the battery bank. Please ensure you tell Terry Davis in writing prior to a quotation or design acceptance if this is the case.

 

Expandability

Most systems can be expanded on the DC panel side of the inverter thus adding more panels to increase the amount of energy available during the day or to solar charge the battery banks. This could involve adding extra charge controllers, panels, racking and other equipment. The inverter size, and brand, affects this expandability. 

Some off grid systems can also add a larger battery bank in line with the same voltages of the existing bank, size and brands. To expand here you will need to add more than one battery. Voltages must match. You may have to also add more or a large battery box and circuit protection and perhaps anther inverter set.

Operation

 The off grid SPS systems works in the following ways

The PV array (solar panels) collect the suns energy via the photovoltaic effect. They only work in the day when the sun is shining. This DC energy is the feed or delivered through the Radox 4mm DC cable to the DC roof top isolators and through the DC isolators at the inverter. These isolators are in place to prevent back feed of DC energy and to protect the cable in the event of over current.  These are a serviceable item.

The array has an earth cable connecting the hardware to prevent electrical shock. This is tied into your AC earthing bar and earth or ground stake. Earth size dependent upon inverter size and load.

The DC energy during the day is then fed to the AC Coupled inverters which convert the energy to AC and feed the switchboard in the day , they also feed the Off grid inverter which converts the energy back to DC voltages to charge the battery. The Off grid inverter controller, (power station) will charge the bank at different rates at different times.

The Battery bank is protected in-between the inverter and charge controller by a battery fuse or battery fuses. These are HRC DC fuses and as per the PV array help protect the battery and battery cables under hazard or fault conditions. It also provides isolation from the batteries while the switch is OFF. DC Large Circuit breakers can be used.

Inside the HRC fuse holder, or what we call the “rat Trap” are three fuses. Two are being utilised.(Pos + and Neg -)  The middle on is a spare , for service or should one in the future blow.

The battery bank and the Battery inverter can feed DC solar PV energy and DC battery energy to the inverter. The Off  grid inverters job is to convert the DC power to AC power. What we or you know as 240 AC.

This AC voltage allows you as a customer to provide  normal everyday households items to plug into your power points for operation or to enjoy your lifestyle.

At times and within Winter the generator may/will cycle and run. Thus ensuring your load is covered when solar PV production is low. The Off grid inverter should turn this generator on and off at times.

As a safety precaution please do not put an objects especially fuel near or on or around the generator as it can and will remotely start.

Off Grid SPS system require special knowledge, training and safety. All of them require regular maintenance.

It is normal and when trained you can have a safe and enjoyable off the grid experience.

Premium Offgrid Solutions

ACDC Energy team

I have been acquainted with Terry Davis for a little over 18 months, in his capacity as the owner of ACDC energy. He has installed a solar system with battery bank so we are basically off the grid – we only use the grid powers as backup generator and for feed in tariff, and he has been there to answer our many questions before and during installation and throughout the year since it was installed. We did a lot of research and got quotes off a few companies before we made the decision to go with Terry and his team. Whilst it was not the cheapest quote we got, the reason we chose Terry is we liked how he explained everything honestly and clearly and the quality of the products he uses were also a big plus, we also liked how it can be monitored by Terry in his office.  We are extremely happy with the system and the backup support we receive from Terry.   (I have spoken to others who have installed similar systems and once installed they were on their own) We have only had a couple of teething problems and Terry was only too happy to talk us through them and fix it his end – and one was a Sunday night.  I know I can call Terry anytime and he will go out of his way to help us.

Terry is easy to work with, he is honest, he is reliable and I would have no hesitation in recommending him.

Jason and Louise Higgins

Hybrid Solutions

Hybrid solar is a typical pv system with the addition of batteries, often used to store excess power so that it can be used to offset peak load or night time use. It is generally not intended to take a household ‘off-grid,’ however, in many cases, it has the capability to do so.

Solar PV

Solar P.V (Photo-voltaic) refers to the panels on your roof which are then ‘tied’ or ‘coupled’ to an inversion system. A ‘grid tie solar PV’ system is the technical term for your typical domestic or commercial solar system and is commonly made up of panels and a single inverter. This system converts or inverters DC (direct current) electricity produced from the solar panels into AC (alternating current) Electricity, to be used within the home at 240v A.C

 

D.C Coupled Hybrid

This is where we run the solar P.V into a regulator, which also acts as a battery charger (D.C to D.C). This then connects directly to the batteries, which are then connected to the hybrid inverter. This is an older more traditional or typical structure for a full off-grid system in years past.

Modern Off-grid systems are now AC coupled or a maybe a mixture of AC plus a small amount of DC coupling.

So now that we’re all on the same page where to from here?

What is the right system for you? Which batteries should you use? Is it cost effective and why install hybrid Solar?

For most people, the common scenario is going to be an AC coupled system using a Hybrid inverter, such as a “Selectronic” inverter or “Redback” Inverter – Both Australian Companies. A system like this can be selected as an add-on, and allows for complete off-grid functionality at a later date. There are a number of design considerations to look at when selecting a hybrid system. These can have a dramatic effect on operation and costs involved so should be considered closely.

Storage Capacity

It is important to look at storage not just in terms of peak overnight use, but also in terms of ‘days of autonomy.’ This refers to the number of days one expects to be without sun and usually varies between 2-4 days. Storage is generally measured in amp hours, but can easily be converted to kWhrs by multiplying amp hours by the battery bank voltage. For example, a 200AH battery at 12V gives 2.4kWhrs of storage. Most modern systems are now designed in 48v, with luxury homes systems having 120v battery banks.

What are the costs of Hybrid Solar?

OK let’s look at a typical Australian home using 18kWhr’s per day with roughly 8-10kWhr’s of that at night. This home has the following features;

1 Electric storage hot water

2 Electric Oven

3 Gas or electric hot plates

4 Ceiling fans

5 Intermittent AC used only during the day

6 Fully featured AV, TV and computers

7 Lighting

The first thing is to ensure that the electric hot water and Air conditioning where possible are set to run during the day. This allows us to put up more highly cost effective solar P.V, and at the same time reduce the required battery capacity. We then use these appliances as a load for excess P.V generation meaning that we don’t ‘export,’ as the power is either used into your appliances. This allows us to factor most production against the tariff rate of $0.30c per kWhr inc GST. There is no need for night/economy tariff’s as the loads are allocated against P.V, which has an installed cost of around 7c per kWhr.

The next trick is to maximize PV capacity to ensure that even on cloudy days we are still generating ample amounts of power. For some people this won’t be possible due to a lack of roof space, however once all roof faces are considered most homes can fit the required 5 to10kW of panels. To ensure that we have enough generation, the minimum is 1kW of panels installed for every 1kWhr of storage. This is a rough guide and depends on day time usage. If Roof space is limited, it may require us to use high efficiency solar panels, such as our premium SUNPOWER panels in your design.

A.C Coupled Hybrid

This refers to a standard grid tie system ‘coupled’ to a hybrid inverter, which then charges batteries and outputs to the home and/or grid. We expect this type of system to become the most popular, as it will be a great way to upgrade from existing P.V and it is also extremely cost effective as a new install.

Peak Draw

This is the highest amount of power one expects to draw at any one point in time usually measured in kW or watts, but sometimes in amps. Since peak is a limiting factor in any hybrid or off-grid installation it makes sense to ‘load shift’ devices, so that they’re not all on at once. For example, you may tell the hot water system to heat, followed by the next highest load – all outside of peak (ie cooking hours). It may also be beneficial to change appliances such as electric stoves to gas, and it will certainly make sense to change the lighting to LED. The latest Inverters can deliver a high sustained load or short term peak load. This will handle the average home right up to Luxury homes and for larger installations again they can be chained together to make a three phase system.

Depth of Discharge and Battery Life

There are a lot of battery technologies available on the market with massive differences in performance and price. It is important to consider firstly the application of the system and then also its requirements in terms of discharge and life cycle. If one is designing a backup system which will be rarely used, then ‘number of cycle’s’ becomes less important, as the system is only intended to take infrequent shallow discharges. This may be suitable as a gate opener, or for a holiday home, and is commonly used in telecommunications systems as secondary backup.

For the home or business however, the batteries will be discharged on a daily basis and it therefore becomes important to consider how many times this can occur before the batteries will begin losing capacity, or fail altogether. Finally one needs to consider the rate of discharge and any environment factors such as physical space, temperature and weight.

Hybrid Solar Costs – The End Result

The home in the above example may run Air conditioning partially off mains power, which makes this a ‘hybrid’ rather than true ‘off grid’ solution. If they wanted to run electric hot plates and the AC that would be possible, but it would also incur significant additional costs. The rest of the home will run comfortably off P.V and batteries some 360 days of the year with the remaining 5 darkest of days drawing some power from the grid. Once again for full autonomy one could increase the battery size, however this once again increases the initial outlay.

Therefore the most cost effective method is to operate hybrid solar, which would give us total system costs starting at approximately $10K giving a payback period of 5 to 10 years and an ROI of about 20+% p.a. It’s important to remember that the life cycle of the system is 15+ years with most modern battery systems

It is also worth remembering that electricity prices will not remain the same. If electricity prices rise then the final result will be far more beneficial. Furthermore at the 15year mark, the batteries may need to be replaced, however the panels will continue producing for up to 25 years resulting in a second investment cycle with much higher returns.

Hybrid Solar Calculator

The calculation of hybrid solar production values and hybrid costs is extremely complicated and involves both modelling software and very detailed spreadsheets. If you are interested in a hybrid solar calculator specific to your requirements, please contact us and we will model something for your specific situation.

Hybrid and Off-Grid systems if configured and or installed incorrectly can have a high failure rate. If you are looking at purchasing any type of battery enabled system a ‘cheap’ solution will almost certainly result in a bad investment with equipment failure and ultimately need replacing or expensive repairs.

ACDC Energy are battery system specialists and as part of our design process we provide detailed production estimates guaranteed in writing thereby ensuring that you get what you paid for , but most importantly you get a system that will perform as required year after year.

 

Battery Storage

How much Battery storage do I need?

How much battery storage capacity to buy is probably your main consideration, but this depends on a few things:

  • Are you happy just capturing your leftover solar for use at night (instead of exporting it), and you’re not overly fussed if this runs out during the night requiring you to buy grid power again?
  • Or would you prefer enough storage to make it all the way through the night without needing to buy grid power too often?

You can use our calculator to help you figure out how much energy you use and how much battery storage you require.

Depending on your answers, then every home has a ‘storage sweet spot’. Here are some further considerations:

  • How much energy you consume at night (especially in winter) tells you how much storage you will need
  • It’s all well and good having this much storage, but only if you have enough ‘spare’ solar to recharge it all
  • If you already have solar, then how much you’ve been exporting to the grid during winter probably tells you how much battery capacity to buy (anymore and you won’t have enough solar to recharge it for part of the year anyway)
  • If a hybrid system is not quite right for you and you’d rather go off-grid (‘Grid Defection’), then there’s nothing stopping you, but we can’t take any chances and will need to ensure you have the right technology, design and capacities needed to survive whatever is thrown at you. Off-Grid Systems have important differences to Hybrid Systems, and are roughly double the cost. Check out our Off-Grid Systems above.

When you are living Off-Grid, your energy storage company needs to be available 24/7 to answer questions and troubleshoot if the worst happens and the lights go out. We understand this responsibility and do not take it lightly.

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