[PT. 2] Installing an Off-Grid Solar Power System: Electronics, Inverters & Batteries


This is Part 2 of the installation of my Off-Grid Solar Power System. Will Herndon from NewGrid Inc. and his team did a phenomenal job. Hope you enjoyed seeing a behind the scenes look at the installation process.

📖 Chapters:
0:00 Overview
01:07 Inverter Room (Before)
03:37 Battery Room (Before)
05:18 Installation Summary
05:47 Inverter Room (After)
06:35 How Does the Solar Power System Function?
07:00 What Happens if the Solar Power System Malfunctions?
08:05 What Happens if the Batteries Get Low?
09:30 Battery Room (After)


Will Herndon:
So what we find in a lot of these rooms, when we come into a remodeled situation, which is what this is, is we’ll find an equipment area, equipment shelter, equipment room that is all together inadequate and has a lot of what you see here. Just sort of messy electrical. That’s not clean and difficult to figure out. Now this particular site we’re actually starting off in a pretty good foot because the room itself is adequate. It’s not huge, but it’s plenty big for what we need to do because adjacent there’s a battery room. So we’ve got a room for electronics and inverters and such, and we’ve got a room for battery.
So this is to be just fine, this room, but here’s some of the things that we don’t like about what’s been done here. We’ve got these service mounted boxes here on the wall. So first of all, you see that it’s messy. And when it’s messy and unclean with these pipes everywhere and all this business hanging around flopping around, you can pretty much gather that what is has been done from an electrical wiring standpoint is gonna follow that trend. So, and that’s what you see when you take the covers off. So that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re gonna take all the covers off and just really chase all these wires down. And we’re gonna see that it’s just unorganized just through and through from the standpoint of being sort of like leveled plum and from the boxes and the way things are hung right on down to just how wires are running and free air and dangling all over the place. So we’re gonna strip this room down, takke all this equipment off the wall, we’re going to wall board it with some OSB, just some plywood, low grade ply. We’re gonna paint it. And what that’ll do is, is rather than have plywood all around here that you can’t screw things into and hang things on the wall with. We’re gonna have OSB painted wall board in here that we can, we can hang electrical equipment anywhere we need to in this room. So that’s how we’ll start. And then after we get that done and painted, it looks nice and clean and clear, then we’ll start mounting equipment, running equipment, and just clean things up
Here. We are in the next room, the adjacent room, it’s the battery room. And it’s really a very similar size. And it’s, it’s nice. You know, like I said, both rooms are relatively small, but together it’s gonna be just fine. And, and actually it’s, it’s kind of nice to have a wall separating the power conditioning equipment room from the energy storage room, because a lot of times that can help us keep cable runs shorter and just kind of keep things a little bit more orderly. So this actually is gonna work out really nice when this is all done, it’s gonna look really awesome.
We’ll start out with these six batteries. We can grow this way three more and we can wrap it around the wall three more, three more so we can put a lot more batteries in here. You know, we can grow it even more than that if we need to.
Okay. So we just wrapped up a really fun off grid power system and it has 12 kilowatts of PD. It’s got 14 kilowatts of inverter processing power. It has a battery bank of about 45 kilowatt hours, and it’s got a 30 kilowatt generator and it’s a great system. It’s a lot of fun to build. It’s in two rooms, there’s a battery room and there’s also an inverter room. So let’s go on in and check it out.
Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about the communications. Now, the communications in these power systems, these days are super hyper critical. Everything’s on a network, all these devices, one device, two device, three, four devices, and the battery bank is actually a device as well. All the devices communicate. They all work together as a team. It all kind of comes in through here. We can sort of user interface in here. If we need to this unit here automatically stops and starts the generator when we program it to do so, this guy right here is our connection to the internet. And so everything we do with these power systems, we can view online. We can see it from our engineering office down at the shop. Customers can see what’s going on. And that’s the way these power systems work these days is we watch them from afar.
So what I want to tell you guys is a little bit of a training thing, how things are gonna function. So we know the solar’s coming down, it’s getting processed over here by these charge controllers, and it’s getting thrown into the battery. We know that on a regular basis, the inverters are simply drawing off that battery, processing the energy and throwing it up to the load centers. So that’s the way it’s gonna function. It’s always gonna function that way.
But what happens in a major emergency there’s a generator on site, and we had this big transfer switch here. And if the inverters were to ever go dark, you have like a major problem here. It’s so easy. You can just walk over to this switch, throw it down two throws. This is a double throw switch. So it’s got a middle position, big click and a lower position, big click. This is the normal solar position of normal position, down bypass emergency position. So it goes, click click in the case of an and then you walk out to the generator, turn it on. And that literally takes the generator, wires themselves from the generator. They drop into the switch and they go straight out to the property. So it just, that’s what we call it a bypass switch. It just bypasses everything in this room here in the inverter room, bypasses the batteries, everything. It’s some kind of emergency and you just go through that procedure and you call us.
So let’s just talk about what happens, normal operational processes in the event that the battery gets low. So of course, you know, the battery may get low, cloudy weather, high occupancy, or a combination of both things. And if that happens too often and the generator has to run too much, then you know, we just add solar, we add battery or whatever, but let’s just say that we have a high occupancy and cloudy weather situation and the battery starts getting low. So what happens there is that all this equipment monitors, the state of charge, the percentage that the battery is full, and we have it set currently so that when the battery is down at about 20%, it will go ahead and it will click on the generator. And what happens when the generator turns on is that these machines, they see that. So when the generator turns on, you’ll see this light start to flash. And then when it decides that it likes the power, it’s good voltage, good frequency coming from the generator, that light will go solid and you’ll hear a big audible clicking. And this light here will turn, ultimately will turn on. It will start to charge the battery and you can see it’s associated with charging the amps charging, and it will display the number of amps that this unit is pushing into the battery. So that’s kind of how this screen functions.
All right, let’s talk a little bit about the battery bank in here. This is the energy storage system. It’s a discovery battery bank, there’s 7.4 kilowatt hours of energy storage, each unit. So we’ve got six of them in here right now. We always do these power systems to grow. So we can put up to 12-15 of these things in here if the customer happens to need it. So 7.4 times six is 42 and change 45. Let’s call it. The energy comes from tha other room of high goes into these boxes, and then this box drops down and it’s working these two batteries, the middle box drops down it’s working these two, third box drops downwards and it’s these two, so that if we ever expand, put another battery here, let’s say then this box here will handle it. So it’s kind of like one string. We can wrap around these walls if we need to second string third string. And that’s how it works!

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  • Lynette’s mission is to translate financial noise into understandable language and enable educated, independent choices. All her work is fact and evidence based and she shares these tools openly. She believes strongly that we need to be as independent as possible and at the same time, we need to come together in community to survive and thrive through any financial crisis.

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