How can 1 person have such a great experience and another person have a bad experience with batteries, solar panels and solar power systems ?
It's recently come to my attention that there are many grey market parallel importers out there who simply just import and sell items for no other reasons other than to simply make profits. Sadly it's the intention of these people usually to just be interested in making the profits (as their primary motivation) but not being able to give correct real world advanced technical advice or technical support to their clients.
This then has lead to many people wondering WHY items they purchase elsewhere gave them a poor experience and why items they purchased from us gave them a great experience? In their minds they thought they were buying what looked to be the same (or very similar) items.
We've heard this with batteries, inverters, solar panels and entire solar systems in fact. In some cases we've seen some people only get 2 years of life from their batteries that they expected to get 10 years life from, and in other cases their entire system yearly power production was down to 40% of what it should have been (they had lost 60% of their output) and other similar occurrences.
With many items we supply at Hitek we've done thousands of hours of R&D (research and development and technical testing over many of our key items combined) to ensure our products and systems actually deliver great results for real world NZ conditions. Often many of our items we get produced for us will have changes or internal variations or adjustments made specifically at our request so that they deliver a better real world experience for our customers here in real NZ system conditions, yet when people try to source their own version of an item it will often be a different spec internally from what we are supplying and in turn it won't perform as well in real world applications.
Not only this but often our method of configuration and / or implementation of the items or systems will be different due to our 12 years of vast technical knowledge and hands on real world experience with this technology as a specialist in this area. This means that even just a voltage adjustment of say 0.4v difference (less than 1 volt) or even a temperature adjustment of just 5 degrees C can have a HUGE real world affect on whether you have an average result from your system or whether you have a great experience.
If you think about it Solar Power Systems (making them work really well) have alot in common with baking a cake. You could give 12 different people all the same ingredients and just depending on the way they put them together, the order they put them together, what settings are used for the mixer and oven etc and you end up with vastly different results. The ones implemented poorly will FLOP and the ones implemented well will be amazing (yet in these cases the same $$ was spent on the ingredients), and this is the reality of the world we live in today. One could even then say well the guy who had the flop now has to end up buying the ingredients again and wasting their time + energy to have a go a second time just to try and get the same good result that the other guy got the first time. This is why often thinking you are saving a few bucks and up as a FALSE ECONOMY, as it ends up costing you more than to do it right from the start. How many of you have ever watched Jamie Oliver on TV and thought that looks amazing what he's made, and you use the same ingredients and yet what you end up making turns out looking and tasting nothing like what you had seen him make? If however you practiced and made the same thing 50 times over likely by the 50th attempt what you've made will be much better than the 1st attempt. The exact same is true for solar power systems and battery systems today except instead of $15-30 of cake mixture involved there's often $5000 - $90,000 dollars involved, so not something you want to be getting wrong and repeating.
With items we supply we are happy giving this correct technical advice / support away for free but only for items and systems we've supplied and we only give that advice / support away to the direct person or company we sold to, however with items supplied by other companies you cannot phone us up for free technical advice / support for items we have not directly sold or supplied you. In turn we charge for technical support for anybody wanting technical advice / support for items or systems we did not directly supply and we may simply deny technical support for items purchased elsewhere also.
The real key point here though is that often a person may think that they're saving $40 or $60 buying what they thought was the same or similar item from a trading company, only to find that because of lack of advanced technical support / technical advice they end up with a poor experience that then means they're still unhappy with the result even after their purchase, yet if they had purchased through Hitek they wouldn't be in that same position and they would be assured of having a good experience and correct technical advice / support available.
Often when people are spending $2000 through to $90,000 then you really must think long and hard about what VALUE that advanced real world technical advice and technical support is actually worth to you if it means the difference between having a good long term experience from your hardware and your systems or having a poor experience from your hardware / systems and potentially replacing expensive items much sooner than expected. Eg if you spent $4k on batteries and then you only got 2 years of life from the batteries as a result of running them in the wrong environment or with wrong settings then even if you thought you had saved $300 at time of purchase, you actually just cost yourself an extra $3700 after 2 years as a result of the consequences of that decision.
Buying and running solar items and solar systems is NOT like buying a new fridge from your local white-ware store. With a fridge you basically just plug it in and away you go, you'll get the same experience no matter who plugs it in, but with batteries, inverters, solar panels, solar systems the same is NOT true at all, in fact it's very far away in real world reality.
With solar panels themselves they are rated as their "Peak Power Wattage" that only tells you what the panels will do during the best day of the year during the best part of the day (eg 12pm) on a clear sky sunny day during the peak of summer, however it does NOT tell you anything at all about how the panels will perform for you during a cloudy or overcast day, or during Autumn, Winter, Spring etc. In turn our main focus with our solar panels has been real world NZ testing and NZ panel development right here in New Zealand to actually ensure our panels are tested back to back against other top brands of panels from around the world to ensure that our panels actually typically give HIGHER / BETTER real world power output in real NZ conditions than typical conventional panels. In many cases back to back testing (including independent client feedback) has found that often many of our panels are able to give between 50% extra power per panel and often even up to 30% greater power (per rated panel watt) in real world NZ conditions. This means we've had 1 of our 330w panels give up to 50% more power on a cloudy NZ day compared with a 1 year old 330w conventional panel supplied by another company. Why this is critical is that for many system owners (including off-grid systems and RV's etc) the cloudy days are when you are needing that extra power the most, and so if a panel is only efficient at producing power in the peak of summer but terrible at producing power on a cloudy or overcast day then even though it may have the same Peak wattage label rating as our 330w panels that does not tell you anything about how similar (or dis-similar) the real world NZ power output will actually be between their panels vs our panels and in fact many companies in NZ have not even done ANY of their own real world back to back testing to even directly compare their panels vs other panels in real NZ conditions, and I can assure you just testing the comparison in China does not tell what or how they will perform like here in NZ as our atmosphere conditions are very different here. It's well known that many panels designed for usage of solar power systems in China may run happily there for 10 years without issues and then as soon as those same panels are used here in NZ they may perform poorly or even fail after just 2-4 years, and people say why? They don't understand that the panels need to be built to a different and higher (NZ specific) spec as our conditions here are very different, and this is exactly why we don't just import random panels and items from China and why we do our own development and testing of our panels and many items we supply to ensure the really will give a long life and best results here in real world NZ applications, but I'm not aware of any other companies in NZ that do this to the extent that we do.
Long story short, when you are buying your solar system or battery related hardware or items then you want to be dealing with a company who really cares about ensuring that each and every client ends up with a great real world experience, rather than a company who doesn't offer (or often even have the ability to offer) to advanced technical support to ensure you can even end up with a great experience because their primary concern is just making sales and lining their pockets (this is the opposite of what Hitek is about).
Our company slogan is "Empowering your world" as it's our goal with ALL of our systems to actually help empower our customers, and part of this means being able to give them correct real world advice or technical support to ensure they can achieve a good experience, and this is our primary goal (not lining our pockets).
Because we are "Official" agents of the brands we use and supply then we get direct technical support and access to alot more advanced technical information than someone who is just grey market importing a brand and in turn is LOCKED OUT of the official manufacturer support channels.
I hope this article proves useful to really help people better understand why and how so many people can have bad or poor experiences just from buying hardware online from random sellers when in their mind they thought they were buying the same (or similar) items. As the old saying goes "It's all in the detail" and when you don't even know what you are looking for in the first place, you don't know what correct questions to ask and in turn the critical details are often missed until it's too late and by that time you find out you have a poor experience and nobody there to properly assist you to get things running right for your site.
This is why we hear that around 80% of NZ solar systems running here in NZ today are giving LESS than optimal results or have not met the clients expectations or are not giving the power output or savings that a client had expected at the time of purchasing, yet for our clients and our systems we have amazing results and amazing success stories from the last 7500+ systems we've designed and supplied.
We have a saying that is "You don't buy Solar Panels or Batteries to just sit there and look pretty", meaning that unless they are doing their job and doing it well then there's no point on having them as if all they are doing is just sitting there looking pretty and not giving you good real world results and not giving you good real world savings then there's really little point having invested in them in the first place if they're not working well for you.
Many people don't realize that we actually DO have a price match policy*, which means if you do see the exact same make + model items as we are offering and it's in stock in NZ (currently in stock available) not coming on a shipment a few weeks away, and it's a public listed / advertised or quoted price that you can reference, then we are able to often match (or beat) that price under our price match policy. What this means is that if you were thinking about buying elsewhere because you thought were were getting something slightly cheaper then PLEASE talk with us first and ask about this policy, as the very worst thing we can possibly come back to you saying is "sorry we can't help" but more often than not we may be able to come back to you saying "Congratulations" we can assist you with that. There's a great saying "If you want something, it's best to ask", so we encourage our clients to please talk with us and at least ask us to allow us to best assist you rather than just assuming we may not be able to help you.
If you have an existing solar system (or battery system) that was purchased elsewhere or supplied by someone else that is not performing well for you or you are having constant issues then please feel free to give us a call and we will see how we are able to best assist you to help.
Many people often assume (wrongly) that all solar panels are created equally, and they just base their decision (mostly) on the nameplate rating of a panel (eg a 250w panel), but as we can below in our own testing comparing standard 250w mono solar panels against latest 305w PERC MONO technology, this is not actually the case in the real world power output.
Using the world famous Tigo Energy panel level monitoring system to report the live power ratings for every panel on our site, we can clearly see that even though there's only a 55w / 22% nameplate difference in wattage between these panels, there's actually up to a 35% power output compared with a standard 250w mono / poly panel. This actually ends up being 13% more power output than the nameplate rated difference as an advantage in terms of the REAL WORLD energy output from the PERC MONO panels during our own testing on our live test site in Mt Maunganui Tauranga (New Zealand).
In the best cases we’ve even observed up to 50% more real world power output from our 305w PERC MONO panels compared with a standard 300w mono / poly panel during our NZ testing. This translates to a difference of 3.5Amps output vs 7.5Amps output going into the clients battery on the same roof top when testing with 1 std panel vs one of our PERC MONO panels.
For people who care about the output of their on-grid, hybrid or off-grid system yearly output and especially their Winter, Autumn and Spring power production then PERC mono panels are certainly something well worth considering (even though they do cost a little more per panel) as they actually deliver some good real world efficiency gains (up to 13% more during our own testing) thanks to high efficiency latest technology cells with tiny mirror reflectors in the rear of the cells.
Typically the difference in cost is usually only around a small $80-110 cost extra (per panel), yet this extra cost often pays for itself within the first few years of running an off-grid system due to saving needing to run the generator for as many hours throughout the year. Nowdays the solar panels themselves are actually one of the cheapest parts of a good solar power system, where as only 5 years ago the solar panels themselves were one of the largest costs of the entire system.
Things such as alloy racking / mounting kit prices have stayed about the same and labour prices have actually increased, and everyone seems to be running out of good (un-shaded) roof top areas, so the real question is WHY would people want to waste their time, money and roof space installing low efficiency panels when once the "TRUE COSTS" are actually calculated it actually makes better sense to install latest technology higher efficiency panels in many cases.
One of our clients (Kevin in Kerikeri) had installed 12 x Hyundai 265w (3.48kW) of mono panels on his roof 1 year ago, and then this year he installed an additional 10 of our 290w (2.9kW) of our PERC MONO panels (on a different string so that the 2 sets of panels would not affect each other), and the 2.9kW of PERC MONO panels actually produced MORE power output each day even though there was 580watts less of panels installed. Yes before you ask all the panels were on the exact same roof top, facing the same orientation & tilt angle etc. He was shocked with how much extra power the PERC MONO panels were producing for his site each day and he now felt that the existing MONO / POLY technology had now been "Outdated and Supersceeded by these new high efficiency PERC MONO panels".
Note: We have also ran the same tests on our 290w, 295w, 300w and 305w PERC MONO panels to also verify that they too show the same level of increased power production compared with standard panels, and yes all of our PERC MONO panels showed this additional power output.
For those of you who want to read up about the technology behind PERC MONO panels that help them achieve this extra output, then please read this article here: Why are high efficiency PERC MONO solar panels becoming popular?
The above link is well worth your 5 minutes of time spent reading through and you will learn alot.
In the last 2 years we've been shocked to hear and learn just how many "NEW" Solar Power companies have started up that CLAIM to be Experts in Solar Power & Battery Storage Solutions, and yet in reality have NO idea about how to PROPERLY design these systems to give great long term reliability and performance to customers. Many don't even employ a qualified system designer, and simply rely on their sales people or their electricians to design their systems, yet these guys are hardly up to the task.
If you were serious about looking for a "GOOD QUALITY SOLAR SYSTEM" would you ever have in your wildest dreams ever thought about consulting with a Carpet Sales Person to design your solar power system? Yet this is exactly the thing that happens today when many people are sold a solar power system by people that are NOT Experts in this field at all.
We get numerous calls and / or emails each week from at least 4 new solar companies that have started up in the last year or so that ask us for advise and after asking these guys a few questions it's very clear that they have no idea about the solar power & battery storage industry at all, let alone what's required or involved to design a good high quality long lasting system.
We also get a lot of calls from people who have installed a system sold to them from the carpet salesmen, and then wondered some 4-6 months after having it installed WHY they are only saving $80 per month off their average monthly power bills, despite having spent some $22k on a new system (without any battery storage) and yet they're stuck dumping half (or more) of their daily solar production back to the grid per day.
After all you don't spend money on a Solar Power System to just have it sit there and look pretty on your roof right? Unless it's giving you the savings that you expected then the system has often not been a good investment for you and you'll be left with a bitter taste in your mouth when your friends ask you how likely you are to recommend solar power for others. This ends up a sad thing both for the customer and for the entire solar industry, all due to a few people out there who wrongly convince your average person that they know what they're talking about and yet in reality they have no idea.
A lot of clients who are rural and on 3 phase supply for their residential homes out in the country also call us, and many of these guys are running 5 - 10kW worth of Solar PV at their sites and yet dumping half their power (or more) back to the grid per month and yet nobody tells them that this does NOT have to be the case if the system is designed correctly from the start, yet the company who sold it to them 1-2 years ago never thought to tell these clients that you can actually resolve this dilemma and end up with a very efficient system (if that's your goal).
We get at least 10 calls a week from clients with existing solar power systems (some off-grid and some hybrid) who have stuffed their batteries within around 2 or 3 years, despite being told by the people / companies who sold it to them that it should last them 6-8 years which actually never possible when you look at the data sheets for the batteries themselves. Most clients with battery issues have stuffed their batteries due to sulphation related issues which in turn dramatically shortens their battery life and their usable capacity after very short periods of time (as short as 1 year we've seen in quite a few cases and typically within 2 years as an average).
People then think and assume (wrongly) that their local electrician MUST be a Solar & Battery Storage Expert, because after all he's been an electrician for the last xxx number of years therefore he MUST know what he's doing right? Sadly this is WRONG and couldn't be further from the truth. Most electricians are great with AC electricial wiring but when it comes to DC systems they often have no idea and we get many calls each week from trained and qualified electricians who actually wire the positive and negative the WRONG WAY AROUND on systems (much to our shock), and this is a very common occurrance sadly. Your average electrician has not usually spent 1-3 years training up specifically to be a Solar & Battery Expert, instead they often just do installations for other companies or maybe even started with some basic on-grid systems of their own and then though that they'd give off-grid systems a try also (after all how different can it be right)?? Sadly this is where they go wrong and the systems are quite different and unless they really understand hybrid and off-grid systems with battery storage then they should not likely be offering these to their clients.
If you wouldn't get your builder to design your house (you'd instead get your architect to design it and your builder to build it) then why do people expect that their electrician suddenly is a solar design expert? You are instead better off leaving that to someone who actually is a solar power & battery storage design expert and instead leaving your electrician to simply just perform the installation to the correct spec and standards.
So with all this in mind HOW can you more easily identify the people and companies out there who are actually Solar Power & Battery Storage Experts, and not simply out to take your money from you and then run away when your system doesn't perform to your expectations down the track?
We've composed a small list of some key questions to ask your Solar Power / Battery Expert person or company you are dealing with, and depending on how they answer these questions this will help to determine which people / companies actually know what they're talking about (as Experts in the industry) and in turn are actually worth dealing with.
SOLAR AND BATTERY STORAGE Questions to Ask your Solar & Battery Company or person you are dealing with:
- What is the best angle and orientation for your solar panels to give best output performance?
- What is the difference between a HF and LF inverter and which one is better and why?
- What is the difference between High Efficiency and Low Efficiency panels, and why might you choose 1 over another?
- Which solar panel technology is BEST Suited for off-grid systems, and why?
- How does panel efficiency affect or alter inverter output performance, please give an explanation of how and why.
- What are the most efficient ways to deal with shading related issues for Solar PV panels for an off-grid system, if the shading on some of the panels cannot be avoided?
- What is the maximum wattage & current (Amp) output possible under NZ conditions from a 290w Solar panel that is rated 40.11v VOC, 32.54v VMP, 9.61A ISC, 9.22Amp IMP.
- How does increase and decrease in temperate affect solar panel output, and what things would we likely see occur at 5 degrees C on a sunny winter morning, and also at 32C on a windy summers day vs a non-windy summers day?
- How many panels (using the above specs) can we run together in series for an ELV off-grid system if the inverter can handle up to 130V maximum input voltage?
- How many panels (using the above specs) can we run together in series for an on-grid system if the inverter can handle up to 580V maximum input voltage?
- What size Solar PV DC cable would we use if we were connecting 9 of these panels together running at a distance of 25 meters away from the Inverter / MPPT controller and why?
- What are the main reasons that batteries on a solar system usually perform worse during winter periods and how would you typically fix / remedy this?
- How can a 1 off-grid solar power system (with the same number of PV panels and same wattage + the same inverter make & model) perform dramatically better than another if the only difference is the batteries used on the system, please explain.
- What calculations & considerations must be made before charging batteries via a generator for an off-grid solar power system?
- What are some common mistakes & issues that many electricians make when wiring up a generator onto an off-grid solar power system that often causes issues?
- What are some common mistakes & issues that many electricians make when installing an on-grid hybrid system with battery storage attached?
- How does a battery's charge and discharge rates affect the battery's life and the battery's performance and storage capacity?
- What affect does temperate have on storage batteries life, performance and storage capacity?
- What battery technology do we want to charge back to full on a daily basis, and what battery technology will benefit from additional life if NOT charged back to full each charge and why is there a difference?
- What are dendrites and when may you likely see this issue occurring and in what types of batteries?
- What is sulphation, and when may you likely see this issue occurring and in what type of batteries?
- If some batteries claim to be 80%, 90% and 100% usable, what considerations and issue also need to be taken into account in order to be able to get best and full usage of these batteries?
- Why do some companies recommend using a battery rack to house batteries in for an off-grid solar power instead of just having their batteries sitting on a concrete pad with some wood or metal around them to hold the batteries in place?
- What are the advantages of using Tigo Energy Junction Boxes built into some solar panels now days?
- How and why can some micro inverter systems actually give LESS power output than the same system with direct DC connected panels? Please explain under what circumstances and the reason for this.
- If you already have an existing Solar PV system running either a string inverter or micro inverters, and you were wanting to add on 14kW of storage capacity then what are some of the most efficient ways and options to do this?
- With many 12v - 48v DC battery storage systems that are running with solar power systems what is one of the most common issues and failures that customers experience as a problem 6 months through to 1 year down the track that relates to installation, yet at the time of installation and checking the system during commissioning everything was checked as being fine and working correctly, and how do we avoid this issue from occurring down the track for these systems?
PS: No we don't give out the answers online here on this blog post, otherwise if everyone can just look up the answers then this defeats the point of making these questions available. For those who want the answers then call us directly for a chat, and feel free to advise some of the answers that you were given by the people you deal with so we can advise if they are right on the money with their answers or if they are actually quite far away from knowing what they're talking about.
Feel free to email us some of the answers that your solar & battery storage guys gave you if you want us to give honest feedback to you about how good these guys really are that you are dealing with (based on their answers and understanding of these systems).
Hopefully these questions get people talking which in turn will help the entire Solar Industry and also will help ensure customers are dealing with a person / company who actually knows what they're doing and what they're talking about. Those who don't know what they're doing should really be up-skilling and learning correctly so that they can offer good advice, good service and long lasting systems to their customers.
Showing the differences in cell / panel technology and performance between PERC MONO cell panels and standard MONO / Poly cell panels.
Lead-Carbon batteries are different from other types of batteries because they combine the high energy density of a battery and the high specific power of a super-capacitor in a single lower-cost device (also known as Pb-C).
Our Hitek Lead-Carbon batteries feature industry leading and proven technology, achieving maximum cycle life in a compact package.
The primary goals of lead-carbon battery research has been to extend the cycle life of existing AGM lead-acid batteries and also increase their storage capacity / power. The Activated Nano-Carbon Enhanced negative electrode provides proven results and unmatched cycle life, even in a partial state of charge (PsoC) operation. This is very beneficial in solar power systems, communication sites, Caravan, Marine, Motor-home / RV installations and many more applications.
We have pre-made battery racks available for our lead-carbon batteries to make installation quick and easy. Our lead-carbon batteries are fully sealed Valve-Regulated and can operate on their front, side or standing upright to give you maximum installation options in any installation scenario.
Advantages of Lead Carbon compared with Lithium batteries and Lead-Acid:
* No BMS (Battery Management System) is needed to prevent over-charging and under-charging on a per cell basis, as lithium battery sets need.
* No thermal run-away risk of individual cells over heating, exploding and catching on fire as lithium batteries can have.
* Much better and greater kW storage capacity per dollar compared with lithium (approximately twice the storage capacity from lead-carbon compared with lithium, or about half the price for the same kW capacity).
* A nice easy to carry modular system where each battery can be carried and put in place 1 at a time, without needing any forklifts, jacks etc like you need to install the Tesla Powerwall battery and Panasonic Lithium Home Storage Battery.
* Suitable for On-Grid Hybrid and Off-Grid systems due to high discharge amperage capacity. A set of our 14.4kW lead-carbon batteries is capable of 5kW discharge capacity without any problems or issues, yet lithium batteries such as the Panasonic Home Storage Battery + the Tesla Power Wall battery are limited to 2 - 3.3kW constant power output which in turn makes them un-suitable for off-grid installations.
* No Cooling fans / system is needed for lead-carbon batteries, yet lithium batteries such as the Panasonic Home Storage Battery + the Tesla Power Wall battery need active fan cooling to constantly regulate and keep the lithium battery temperature cool otherwise over-heating and risk of fire / explosion may result if they had a cooling system failure.
* Can easily retrofit / retro-fit onto ANY / ALL existing systems running existing lead-acid batteries, where as lithium batteries can't easily be added onto existing older systems that are running older lead-acid batteries. In turn our lead carbon batteries can work on older systems that may be running Outback Power, Midnite Solar, SMA Sunny Boy / Sunny Island setups, Enasolar, Enphase, APS, Solax, Goodwe, EP Solar Tracer, Xantrex, Schneider, and many other existing older system types.
* Much higher energy density and longer life in the same size (or smaller) package compared with existing AGM / GEL and Flooded Lead Acid Batteries. Eg a typical 6v Crown / Trojan 430Ah L16 style Flooded Lead Acid Battery only gives 1200 cycles at 50% DOD while our lead-carbon batteries offer 3500+ cycles at 50% DOD while also giving MORE usable Ah / kW storage capacity at the same time.
* No need to run lots of separate 2v batteries as was the norm with older lead-acid solar storage setups, as our 6v 300Ah battery sets offer much better value for money per kW than existing traditional 2v setups offer, however yes we can also offer our lead-carbon batteries as 2v battery versions also (via pre-order only). This not only saves you money but also means our battery storage system offers a much faster and easier installation in comparison.
* High Amperage Charge & Discharge capacity compared with Solar GEL batteries which have low charge / discharge amp input and output current restrictions.
* No harmful and toxic gases coming off our lead-carbon batteries (as they're sealed), so you don't have to worry about terminals and wiring corrosion, or spillage of liquid acid, checking fluid levels, hydrometer checking and all the safety risks / hazards that you have with existing flooded lead acid batteries. Our lead-carbon batteries don't need external outdoor ventilation as normal lead-acid batteries do.
* Up to 20 Year Design Life for our lead-carbon batteries (when running in best case with perfect environment conditions), compared with standard lead-acid batteries that have a 3-5 year design life and lithium that has up to 10 year design life.
We have now supplied and deployed more than 7,500 of our lead-carbon batteries to clients around NZ and also international clients all around the world (as at 2019), and we've not had a single client who has not been happy with how nicely the lead carbon batteries are running for them on their solar systems. Many of these clients previously had existing lead-acid batteries that had failed on them much sooner than they had expected and they wanted a more reliable long-term solution. Our lead carbon batteries are the answer and today here in New Zealand we've not found another single solar / energy storage battery that is "Better Value for Money" than our lead-carbon batteries when usable battery life and usable energy storage are part of the calculation.
Note: We can offer wholesale / trade supply to other companies who may wish to offer our lead-carbon battery storage options to their own clients. Please contact us for more information.
We recently supplied one of our new "SOLAR HYBRID STORAGE SYSTEMS" to Gavin over in Sydney Australia to get better returns and more savings from his existing Solar PV system.
He was already running 16 x 260w Trina Honey Solar Panels (4.16kW) with Enphase Micro Inverters. He was wasting around HALF his Solar Power produced each day by giving it back to the grid for peanuts (basically giving it to them almost for free at around 6c per kW), and yet facing paying 51cents per per kW worth of power later in the evening (on that same day). So instead he now has 14.4kW worth of latest technology Lead Carbon Battery storage and our Hybrid Storage system manages everything automatically for him to get BEST advantage to use ALL of his solar power each day (without wasting any of it back to the grid) and he also gets to top up his battery storage cheaply from the grid at the lowest cost of 11c per kW unit in the middle of the night to cover his morning loads also. This solution would give an average solar power home a benefit of around $110 - $160 per month MORE compared with just having the solar power system alone, and a net benefit of around $260 per month compared to before he had any solar power system or storage at all.
Gavin had looked into the options of getting the new Enphase AC battery, and also the Tesla Powerwall battery and Panasonic Home Storage Lithium battery as options, however with a high cost per kW and low storage options (the Enphase only 1kW usable storage, the Tesla Powerwall only 6.4kw usable storage per day and the Panasonic only 8kW storage per day) he really wanted a better solution that offered MORE storage so he wasn't having to waste all his solar production each day sending most of it back to the grid as it had been until our system was installed. This system also allows him to easily expand (and DOUBLE) his storage capacity to 28.8kW anytime he would like to in the future with minimal extra cost per kW worth of storage, as it's only the extra batteries that would be needed, no inverter, charger or other system upgrades would be required.
This is a perfect example of how Solar Power + Storage (in the right setup) is a game changer today and WHY every home with Solar Power in NZ and Australia should consider adding on this option.
You would have thought that between Enphase, Tesla and Panasonic they could have came up with a solution which would have achieved the same result for Gavin, but in this case their solutions were not up to the task or readily available to retro-fit onto his existing system easily or at an affordable price.
Talk to us if you'd like to know more about how to get the BEST efficiency and payback from your existing solar power system, or even if you don't have a solar power system and are interested in getting one and care about the actual savings and returns that the system will give you (not just having it on your roof to look pretty and give you poor paybacks as many systems are currently doing today).
The pictures and graph should best explain and show the savings that our system was giving him over that 24 hour period.
PS: Gavins existing Solar PV system was installed only a year earlier by a highly reputable solar power company in Sydney, they did a good job on the physical installation and used high quality items, but sadly the detail was lacking in giving a "FULL SOLUTION" which actually provided a good "REAL WORLD PAYBACK RETURN" which is what our add on system finally gave him. His existing solar power company that originally suppliled his Enphase system did not have a solution like this to be able to offer (which is often the case with many solar companies to be honest).
Recently there has been a lot of media attention around the proposition of long term solar power leasing agreements. Solar Long term leasing is a term that is being talked about more commonly nowdays, but is it really actually viable in reality??
The concept is that you receive your solar panels and installation for ‘free’, and you in turn sign a long term lease agreement for 20 years (where they own the system on your roof top and will never own it).
To read more about the viability of long term solar leasing agreements, Frank and Muriel Newman from the Oily Rag have written an interesting article, featured in the Bay of Plenty Times.
We think it’s a good read, and raises some very interesting points, and compared to adding it onto your mortgage or buying the system outright, it's easy to see that the "TRUE REAL PAYBACK RETURN BENEFITS" of Solar Power Systems from the likes of what Solar City is offering with their Solar Zero system offerings don't compare against owning the system yourself. Why pay to make somebody else rich, when you could be making ALL of the savings yourself instead of lining their pockets?
Original Article Published Below by Oily Rag:
Authors: Frank and Muriel Newman, authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. To read more of their content and follow them online, please visit their website.
Featured: Bay Of Plenty Times, Thursday April 16th 2015. Original article source:
Some say that solar power is the way of the future, but that the stumbling block has been the high upfront cost of solar panels. So there was a ripple of excitement within the oily rag community recently, caused by a media headline. “Free panels place solar power within reach for Kiwis,” it exclaimed.
However, on further reading, it is apparent that while there are lots of free things for the frugally minded, solar power is not yet one of them.
The story was about a company called solarcity, which recently went nationwide with a new solar power option called solarZero, whereby homeowners can get solar panels installed on their roof at no upfront cost — as long as they make a 20-year commitment to pay a fixed monthly fee. According to the company this is a first for New Zealand but is not uncommon overseas.
The “zero upfront” deal involves the householder entering into what is, in effect, a rental and servicing agreement. At no stage does ownership of the panels pass to the householder.
The monthly fee ranges from $55 to $280, depending on the number of panels that need to be installed, which in turn depends on the power consumption of the household.
The website has some handy calculators to show the potential savings. For example, a “normal” household (not that oily rag households are normal!) that pays $300 a month in power bills would save about $119, but out of that they would have to pay $110 a month to solarcity. Over the 20-year period of the contract, the payments would total $26,400.
The net savings to the householder would therefore be $9 a month ($119 less the $110 fee), or 3 per cent of their power bill. In other words, the energy cost savings of $119 are split $9 to the householder and $110 to the solar panel provider.
Since solar power is only generated during the day and storage cells are not included in the deal, customers would still have to buy power from their electricity company for night-time use.
Although solarcity has provided a new option for those wanting to make a switch to solar energy, committing to 240 monthly payments is a big, long-term financial undertaking that requires a good deal of serious thought.
What happens if you were to sell your house within the 20 years (quite likely given the frequency with which people move house)? In that case you would have a number of choices: convince the new owner to take over the remaining payments, pay to relocate the panels to your new home, or pay upfront the remaining payments due.
To read mor
For example, if someone 10 years into the 20-year commitment moves in to a rest home and is not able to convince the new homeowner to take over their contract, they would be left, in our example, with a bill of $13,200.
Some may say solar panels add to the resale value of a home …we doubt that and take the view that the rate of innovation is such that the units may be of little or no value.
It is also questionable whether it is wise to make a 20-year commitment to a solar power system, when the solar industry is undergoing rapid improvements in technology. The cost of solar power units has fallen significantly over the years and we don’t see any reason why this will not continue.
Solar energy may be the way of the future, given the vast roof areas that could be used to capture the sun’s energy. However, having done some number crunching, we are not convinced that a very long-term rental agreement with its inherent uncertainties is as attractive as it might sound. Householders should consider the upfront capital payments and assess the saving in energy costs as a return on their investment.
You can send in your ideas and join the Oily Rag mailing list, by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to us at: Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.
Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Read our wealth of tips at Oily Rag.
Having just returned back to NZ from attending the latest All Energy Solar Power Expo in Melbourne Australia, we are very excited and proud to be able to advise clients that our Solar Power Solutions really are cutting edge, using only the best and latest technology from around the world. From our assessments our solutions we offer today are about 1-2 years ahead of what most other typical NZ Solar Power Companies and your average electrician are able to offer.
Listed below are some of the latest solar technology highlights that many kiwis here in NZ are eager to learn more about.
1. The Enphase AC battery
What is this and why do I want or need it?
For anybody here in NZ today (plus Australia and other countries) that runs a solar power system using Enphase micro inverters (mounted on the rear of your panels or on the rail behind your panels) you've had no option to easily add on a battery / energy storage solution. Enphase have realised this so have been working on a battery solution for these millions of customers around the world, and it will be available in July 2016 next year.
This sounds great so what are the estimated costs and any pros / cons etc compared to other options?
Aside from the fact that this battery is 9 months away from being available, it is only a tiny 1.2kW hours worth of battery storage capacity.
To put this into perspective the average Kiwi home uses around 8-10kW worth of power per evening (from 6pm – 8am) so with this in mind the average NZ home would need around 6-7 of these units (running together in parallel) to give enough storage capacity to get through most evenings without drawing power from the grid. At this stage indicative pricing is estimated to be around $3000 Inc GST (NZD) per unit inc installation. However lets just assume that if you were buying 6 of these units together and getting them all installed at the same time that the pricing might drop to $2800 per unit x 6 = $16800 for 7.2kW hours of storage or $19,600 for 8.4kW hours of storage. If we compare this against our current latest Lead Carbon Supercapacitor battery setup which offers 14.4kW worth of storage (essentially twice as much) for around $14,500 including installation (as a retro-fit option for any clients with existing Solar Power systems) then we can see that the Enphase AC Battery option doesn’t actually stack up good for those people who are needing 7-14kW worth of storage each evening. Even if you were only needing 6kW worth of storage per evening the Enphase AC Battery option is still expensive for the small amount of storage capacity that it offers.
Note: For any clients with a Renesola or APS micro inverter setup (or even an Enphase, Enasolar, SMA, Samil or other inverter setup) our Retro-Fit option can bolt on and happily work with All of those existing On-Grid systems.
What is this and why do I want or need it?
2. The Tesla Powerwall 7kW Daily Cycle Battery (Also known as 7kW Tesla Power Wall).
Tesla (the electric car maker who makes the famous Model S cars and Model X SUV) have partnered with Panasonic to make their battery “Gigafactory”. They are building high volumes of 18650 lithium cells and using these in their cars and have now also just started packing these into their Powerwall product for clients with solar power systems to give them an option of storing their excess energy produced during the day for use in the evenings. Currently the only NZ partner that Tesla have formed an agreement with here is Vector Energy in Auckland, however typically Vectors model means that they install the system in your home and they own the system and you simply get a slightly reduced power rate (per kW unit) for the 10-15 year agreement period that you sign into. The advantage with this is that you never pay an upfront cost for the system, however the downside is that they own the system and you never reach that point where you are now getting “FREE POWER” from your system. They’re essentially using your roof space to generate power for their network and also selling this FREE Power back to you at a slightly better than average price compared to what other homes are paying from most other power companies. This can give some clients the FEEL GOOD factor of having a solar power system on their roof, however in our opinion it also never gives you quite the same feeling as when you know you truly have “FREE POWER” for the next 10-20 years like you do with our Solar Power Systems / Hybrid Systems that you pay upfront for and then they pay themselves back until the point where they now no longer owe you anything and all power produced is free for you to use however you like.
What are the estimated costs and any pros / cons etc compared to other options?
Aside from the fact that this battery it 6 months away from being available from Vector and they will own the systems they install at your home, there will be other companies offering the Powerwall battery with their own Solar Power Systems, however right now Fronius (one of the announced Tesla partners) is still 1 year away before it will have a compatible single phase inverter available for the NZ market (with certification) and even once this is available it will end up being an expensive solution for only 7kW hours worth of battery storage capacity.
To put this into perspective the average Kiwi home uses around 8-10kW worth of power per evening (from 6pm – 8am) so with this in mind the average NZ home would need around 6-7 of these units (running together in parallel) to give enough storage capacity to get through most evenings without drawing power from the grid. At this stage indicative pricing is estimated to be around $15,500 Inc GST (NZD) per 7kW unit inc installation and the Fronius Inverter setup (excluding any solar panels etc, we’re just talking about upgrading an existing installation here). If we compare this against our current latest Lead Carbon SuperCapacitor battery setup which offers 14.4kW worth of storage (essentially twice as much) for around $14,500 including installation (as a retro-fit option for any clients with existing Solar Power systems) then we can see that the Tesla Powerwall Battery option doesn’t actually stack up good for those people who are needing 8-14kW worth of storage each evening. Even if you were only needing 6-7kW worth of storage per evening the Powerwall Battery option is still expensive for the small amount of storage capacity that it offers and considering it’s going to be at least 1 year away before the compatible Fronius Inverter will be able to bundle with it for use here in NZ (if you were wanting to buy the system outright, rather than go down the track of Vector owning your system as mentioned above).
Note: For any clients with a Renesola or APS micro inverter setup (or even an Enphase and other inverter setups) the Tesla Powerwall battery setup will not easily or simply add onto your Micro Inverter system setup, however our 14.4kW Lead Carbon SuperCapacitor Retro-Fit option can bolt on and happily work with All of those existing On-Grid systems.
What is this and why do I want or need it?
3. Lead Carbon SuperCapacitor Battery Setups (Also known as PbC or Pb-C or Lead Carbon Batteries).
This technology has been worked on for more than a decade by some of the largest battery manufacturers around the world and finally it was announced last year that a couple of these companies had succeeded in having products ready and available for the Solar Power Storage worldwide market. Essentially this technology takes the existing technology of the best AGM (Absorbant Glass Matt) and GEL battery technologies, and gets rid of the standard negative lead plates within these batteries (which are prone to sulphation after even just a few years of heavy deep cycle application usage) and instead the negative plates are replaced by Activated Carbon SuperCapacitor plates which in turn is much more robust and more resistant to sulphation in comparison and can handle extreme heavy duty cycling and even 100% discharging frequently without the battery going bad or degrading like a normal AGM / GEL / Deep Cycle Flooded Lead Acid battery would. Currently there’s only a couple of top manufacturers in the world with this technology available for the public to buy, but within the next few years this technology could and likely will replace most standard car batteries, most solar power storage batteries, ups batteries, marine batteries, forklift batteries etc because it’s not much more expensive in comparison but typically offers 3 x the usable life span (without requiring water / fluid top ups or regular cell hydrometer checks etc like flooded lead acid batteries do). One other advantage is that is virtually produces no gassing while charging / discharging, so you don’t have the same dangers or hazards as you would when you are using flooded lead acid batteries, these are a lot safer for homes, motor homes, batches, cabins, the work place, etc.
What are the estimated costs and any pros / cons etc compared to other options?
Typically the costs compared with a good quality AGM / GEL Deep Cycle battery is around 30-50% more cost, however remember that most Lead Carbon SuperCapacitor batteries can be used to 80% and even 100% DOD (Depth of Discharge) and still give 3x the cycle life of these existing older technology batteries. So if you had a 6v 400Ah AGM battery vs a 6v 300Ah Lead Carbon battery the 400Ah AGM would give you 1.2kW hours of storage per battery for around 600 cycles, while the 300Ah Lead Carbon battery would give you around 1.8kW hours of storage per battery for around 1500 cycles. So as you can see much more cycles and a much larger amount of usable energy storage. One of the downsides with Lead Carbon batteries is that they are quite heavy, typically around 31Kg for a 12v 70Ah and around 61Kg for a 6v 300Ah, so by the time you have 8 of the 6v 300Ah batteries then you are basically at around 500Kg of weight (so not something that you’d want to be moving around once it’s installed and running). This means that this is great for Solar Power Stationary Storage but not as good for use in Electric Cars (EV cars) where Lithium is better suited due to it being much lighter which is a benefit in cars.
Value for money though however for Solar Power Storage Lead Carbon SuperCapacitor batteries can offer between 1500-6000 cycles (up to 10 years worth of usable storage) for a very good price, without the risks and dangers that you have with Lithium storage today. Essentially Lithium storage requires a good BMS (Battery Management System) to balance and manage each cell, as any cells that get over or under charged / discharged can catch fire and explode if not well managed, however these “Thermal Runaway Events” are not a problem for Lead Carbon batteries (which can also be easily retro fitted into most existing systems that use any Lead Acid / AGM / GEL battery setup today).
Why doesn’t my local battery shop / store or local Solar Power Company advise or tell me about these new options?
That is a good question and it mostly comes down to the fact that many of these companies may likely not be aware of this new technology or even have access to this new technology from their existing suppliers or battery companies that they deal with. Remember also that battery shops are in the business of selling batteries and so if you have to go back to them every 3-4 years for a new set of batteries then this is very GOOD business for them as then you are a repeat customer. If they were selling you a battery setup that lasted you 10 years then that wouldn’t actually be very good for their business as then they wouldn’t have many repeat customers coming back and so in some cases they may have to change their business model or face going out of business (similar to what happened the many video stores once Netflicks became popular offering streaming movies, nobody wanted to hire DVDs anymore and most of the stores closed).
Can these new batteries be used for On-Grid, Off-Grid and Hybrid Setups?
Yes correct, they can be used for all of those setups whether you want to self-consume your own stored energy each night and charge up FREE from your Solar Power setup during the day and simply have the grid there as a backup (this is called an On-Grid Hybrid) or whether you want to go completely Off-Grid and produce, use and store 100% of all your own power each day, and simply have a backup generator available for when you get multiple bad stormy grey sky days in a row (especially during winter) this is called an Off-Grid setup, these new batteries can be used for any and all of these different setups and even Wind Power / Hydro Power setups also (for people who may have these instead of or in conjunction with Solar Power setups). In fact we have already supplied many on-grid hybrid and off-grid setups to clients already this year using this latest technology, and EVERY single customer running this technology is very happy with how well their system is running and the savings it is giving them in turn.
4. Shade Tolerant / Shade Optimized Solar Panels
What is this and why do I want or need it?
Are you talking about Micro Inverters like Enphase, APS and other companies offer right?
Actually sorry, no we’re not. DC Optimizers and in particular Smart Panels are not panels that have a small Micro Inverter bolted onto the back which then outputs AC power (as the micro inverter setups do) but instead these Smart Panels are a much better, sleeker and more refined solution and these panels continue to offer DC output just like normal solar panels do.
Traditionally normal Solar Panels were not great at handling situations where 1 or more panels on a string of panels were troubled by some part or total shading situations. With panels connected in series the output of all the other panels was ONLY as good as the lowest performing panel, so if you had 10 x 250w panels and 9 of these are giving 240w output but one is part shaded and only giving 100w output, then essentially your other 9 panels are losing 140w worth of output for each panel which would mean that your total output would only be 1.24kW of power instead of 2.4kW worth of power, so essentially we would half lost close to half of our power output for all the panels on that string. The situation would even become worse if there were 1-2 panels which were 90% or 100% shaded, as then the output of each panel may drop down as low as 40w each in the same example which means you’d have huge losses and then your system wouldn’t be producing the power that you are needing it to and paid for it to be producing when you purchased the system.
With Smart Panels or DC Optimized panels you essentially have an automatic bypass path open up so any panels which are shaded the power instead of getting stuck at those panels (like a road block slowing down traffic) can just go around the blockage without decreasing the output of the other panels.
What are the estimated costs and any pros / cons etc compared to other options?
There are 2-3 different ways you can get this new technology.
You can either buy “Optimized / Smart panels” which already have the optimizer module / technology built into or clipped into the rear of the panel (only for panels built on Tigo TS4 platform Junction Boxes) or for other panels from other vendors that may be older or not up with this new technology then you will be able to buy a retro-fit external box that simply plugs into your modules that are suffering from shading. The good news with this technology is that you do NOT have to install / upgrade every panel to be “OPTIMIZED” but rather just the panels that are suffering from shading. As a bonus any optimized panels can also have a wireless gateway unit setup to communicate with them if you want panel level monitoring available to see the output of each panel on your laptop, PC or smart phone (however that’s an added cost for the Wireless Gateway setup and is not needed for the Shade Optimization setup). The typical cost extra per panel for it to be Shade Optimized (as a Smart Panel) is around $130-160 per panel, so not really a lot of cost for the benefits that this technology offers, of course spending this cost on a low wattage panel such as a 140w panel would not be as smart as spending this cost on a high wattage output panel such as a 265w panel, as the optimizer costs are the same for both panels. If you look at the cost per micro inverter of around $260-300 per micro inverter (per panel) and needing to spend this cost for every panel on the string (rather than just those you want to be shade tolerant) then the micro inverter option ends up MUCH more costly in comparison especially on setups with 14-28+ panel setups compared with this new Tigo Smart Panel technology.
Why doesn’t my local electrician or Solar Power Company advise or tell me about these new options?
That is a good question and it mostly comes down to the fact that many of these companies may likely not be aware of this new technology or even have access to it from their manufacturers / suppliers they deal with. In time, likely 2-4 years from now this technology will become mainstream and likely standard with many new panels in the future, but for now this will ONLY be an upgrade offered by a few Solar Power companies in NZ who offer the LATEST technology to their customers. Some Solar Power Companies and Electricians do NOT like change and they may not properly understand or appreciate this new technology or want to re-train to be able to offer this to their clients. Sometimes it’s easier for them to just stay offering the existing older solutions that they know and are comfortable with instead.
Please note that the information shared and expressed here is simply the opinion and views of Hitek Solar NZ, however we do try and get the information and facts as accurate and correct as possible to best help all of our clients to become better educated and to help with their future decisions. For those Electricians, Solar Power companies and even RV / Motor home companies around that do NOT offer this latest technology, but would like to have access to it then feel free to contact us as we also offer wholesale supply to many other companies around NZ. Please excuse any typos also thanks.
If you want to know more information about any topics or items mentioned, please fill out the CONTACT form here on the website so we can get in touch with you thanks.
Are you one of those "Unlucky" people who paid upfront for a Solar Power System from Right House (who went into liquidation a month ago) and now are STUCK with nobody wanting to help you get your system finished or to work with you so that it's actually making power and saving money for you? Well never fear, we've already rescued many hundreds of customers all around NZ from these sorts of disasters before. We are highly skilled in system design of high quality Solar PV systems and also in project management to get the right people working on your job, and also directing you in the right direction with good quality EXPERT advise. If you know people or friends in this situation, please get them to get in touch with us.
Companies like power smart and others around NZ may not want to help people who are in this bad situation, and while we respect this is their choice as they are already busy on larger projects, we however are all about helping people and love to see happy endings and good results (even if customers did not purchase the equipment or systems from us in the beginning to start with).
Likewise if you know anyone with a Solar PV system who is "UNHAPPY" with how the system is performing and nobody wants to give them advise or help them out, please put them in touch with us so we can assist them. We are able to get the "BEST" returns available in NZ from New and Existing Solar PV Systems (even if these were supplied or installed by other companies who may or may not be still operating.
Hitek Solar NZ
Empowering Your World
Do you already have or own an existing Solar Power System at your house that was previously producing GOOD returns for you and saving you alot of money on power per month?
Are you ANNOYED by the fact that the power companies have recently changed the amount of money they're paying you back for power that you sell to them?
We've talked with HUNDREDS of people in the last few months who are all very worried about this as they could see NO Solution in Sight.
NEVER FEAR We've already got the solution available today to SOLVE THIS PROBLEM thanks to our Hitek Energy Management System (HEMS for short). Our system is one of the SMARTEST available anywhere in NZ today and will give ANY Solar Power System Owners the BEST returns from their existing systems and the MOST savings per month (to save you paying money to the power companies).
If you want to know more or want to come see our system LIVE in action please give us a yell. If you have friends, neighbours or other people you know who already have Solar Power and are worried about these country wide changes (that will affect them) please pass on this info so that we can help take away their headache. Our system can typically save clients between $1000-2400 per year (while still leaving you running your existing system) our system simply add's on as a smart management system to do all the work for you.
Hear from you soon.
Hitek Solar NZ - Empowering Your World