The word on many of our customers' minds for 2017 is 'Batteries'. Whether you are completely off grid and self-sufficient with power, or you operate a grid connect system (or would like to), one of your major financial investments is in your battery storage.
When it comes to stand-alone (off grid) solar systems, lead acid batteries are the best suited, due to their storage capacity, efficiency and price points. Our website has customisation tools which allow YOU to design the best system for your needs (DIY, Value, Residential, Large). The older flooded batteries require regular maintenance to ensure you get the longest life out of your investment. Before deciding your wet cell battery bank has bitten the dust, run through these basic investigations:
- Check the water levels in each cell. Is the water covering the plates in each cell? Add demineralised or distilled water if required. If plates are exposed to the air they will oxidise, affecting battery performance and life.
- Check the state of charge, using a hydrometer. All cells should have a similar reading. Hydrometers are available for sale at RPC and any household operating wet cell batteries should own one.
With changes to the gross feed in tariff, many householders are now looking into on-grid battery storage. Adding a battery to your grid connect system empowers you to decide whether you store all of the excess energy you harness during the day, reducing your reliance on the grid, or choose to sell this excess power back to the energy retailers, reducing your power bills. Technology in this area is changing daily, so Rainbow Power does the hard work of investigating this endless array of emerging technology. Lithium batteries currently offer the best value for money for grid connected solar storage, and are designed to be retrofitted into existing grid feed solar systems. RPC stocks a range of lithium ion batteries, suitable for small, medium and large scale household and commercial systems. We generally advise that a battery that has the capacity to store half of your daily usage, will be enough for installation into your grid connected system.
For smaller system grid connected-energy consumers, we recommend the Enphase AC battery, which is a lithium battery with a built in inverter. Each battery has storage capacity of 1.2kWh and supplies capacity of a maximum 270W. These modular systems can be added to, allowing you to start small and build up your storage capacity as the need arises (and funds become available!)
The LG Chem lithium ion battery range is also a modular system, with storage capacity of 3.3kWh, 6.5kWh and 9.8kWh. These units require purchase and installation of an additional inverter, and come with a 10 year warranty.
Many readers will have heard or read the hype about the Tesla Powerwall, credited with revolutionising home and commercial solar battery storage. The latest offering from the Tesla crew - Powerwall 2 - is landing any day now and we plan to install the very first onto the RPC building within the next month. This new generation battery includes an integrated AC inverter, and a powerful 14kWh capacity, making it suitable for large family homes, and also commercial installations.
For more information about any of these products, or to discuss your individual requirements, drop by to 1 Alternative Way, Nimbin or give us a call on 02 6689 1430.