So I have been doing extensive research on off-grid solar systems because I will be upgrading our system after Thanksgiving. I am adding more solar panels, a 2nd charge controller, and a 2nd inverter. Along with that a general upgrade replacing some fuses and switches with circuit breakers, plus up-sizing some wiring. And to make sure I was/am on track I am seeking out information from reliable, expert, professional sources such as the manufacturers themselves, installation engineers, etc. Oh boy, I was surprised, disappointed, and a bit disgusted in what else I found.
Along the way I came across a whole bunch of folks, most of whom have YouTube channels, that are putting out some horrible, terrible, and potentially dangerous information. I mean some really, really bad content that on the surface sounds fine, but when compared to factual technical information is…well, pure junk. One of the problems I saw was mis/dis information about manufactures.
Let me start off by saying this…I’ve been building solar projects for over 10 years now. And, after my initial 24volt residential off-grid build here at the glamstead I realized I was working with 10-year old technology centered around lead-acid batteries. Seeing the problem rather quickly I started the first up-grade to 48v LifePo4 batteries, new inverter, etc. As I was doing the upgrade I asked the local solar dealer to ensure I had top-quality, Tier 1 equipment that I wouldn’t have to worry about. He provided Victron Energy equipment. I am so glad he did. But, back to the problem of mis/dis information about manufactures.
Part of my overall research was ensuring that Victron equipment was top-of-the-line stuff. During the research I found the real problems were far and few between. The performance problems came from under-powering the equipment itself…too small of a battery bank, too small of an inverter, too few solar panels, etc. So it was more of a system design problem than an equipment quality problem. There were two problems I found on the Internet that were serious…one inverter catching fire and one MPPT charge controller burning out. In both cases it was a wiring issue. The MPPT had a bad wire connection in the battery + wire connection inside the MPPT…installer fault. The inverter fire came from another bad wire connection inside the inverter with the battery + wire. Both times the wire wasn’t properly prepared or correctly connected to the equipment. Interesting to note…Victron did a warranty replacement on both. So the equipment was fine, the installers messed up.
Well, let’s wrap this up…a lot, most, much, of the solar information on the Internet, especially YouTube, is pure crap. It is misleading, poorly written, poorly produced, mostly DIYs, and overall just bad info. There are lots of sources out there with great information…but it can be had to sort that info from the junk info.
I am really concerned for folks who are doing a residential solar DIY project. This is especially true when someone is attempting a whole house, grid-tied, any system that is 48v, or any system with lithium batteries.
I don’t want to see anyone burn down their house, run afoul of their local utility company, get electrocuted with high-voltage / high-ampere system, or blow up or start a fire with a lithium battery.
So please go with only the best quality information sources, stay away from “garage experts”, and verify all information with manufactures before implementation. That is especially true with “hacks”, “shortcuts”, or “huge savings” promoting information….as well as any equipment engineered in China.
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