Off grid solar system Victoria

Off grid solar system Victoria

Off-Grid Solar Systems in Victoria: Alpine Challenges and Cost Considerations

The climate in Victoria can significantly impact the design of off-grid solar systems. In some regions of Victoria, particularly those that experience high rainfall during the winter, it’s important to consider these weather patterns when planning your system. To compensate for the reduced sunlight during these wetter months, we recommend oversizing the solar array and possibly increasing the battery size. For instance, if a household requires 20kWh of energy per day, we suggest installing a solar panel array of at least 10kW in these wetter areas of Victoria, if not larger. Additionally, a minimum battery bank capacity of 24 hours is recommended to ensure a reliable power supply.

In some alpine areas of Victoria, such as Healesville, the Mount Buller region, Yarra Ranges, and up to Mount Kosciuszko in NSW, implementing an off-grid solar system can be more challenging but not impossible. These areas may require a generator as a backup due to the harsher weather conditions, compared to drier regions like Mildura where solar systems can operate more effectively without additional backup.

Additionally, off-grid solar systems in Victoria can be more expensive due to two factors: the need for a larger system to compensate for weather conditions and the fact that they attract fewer Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) rebates. For example, in Healesville (postcode 3777), a 10kW solar system may receive 83 STCs, whereas in Ballarat (postcode 3350), the same system could receive 93 STCs.(STC calculator) With the market value of STCs being up to $40 each, this means that people in alpine areas of Victoria could pay around $400 extra for a 10kW off-grid solar system. As a result, the overall cost of the system can vary significantly; for example, a 10kW off-grid solar system might be installed for around $30k in the Ballarat area, but in an alpine area of Victoria, the cost could be closer to $40k due to lower rebates and the need for additional battery capacity.

Regulations for Off-Grid Solar Installations in Victoria: The Role of the Certificate of Electrical Safety

In Victoria, the regulations for solar installations are largely consistent with those across Australia. Installers must be accredited for off-grid solar installations and design. However, one specific requirement in Victoria is the Certificate of Electrical Safety (CES). Every solar system must be inspected by an electrical inspector, and a CES must be obtained before the system can be activated. This requirement is unique to Victoria. In practice, the rule that a system can only be turned on after inspection is often not adhered to, especially for off-grid systems. Since people relying on off-grid power cannot afford to wait for an inspector, who may be two weeks away, these systems are usually turned on immediately after installation.

Finding Off-Grid Solar Expertise in Victoria: Moora Moora Community and Off-Grid Living Festival

People frequently inquire about how to locate installers certified for off-grid solar design and installations, or any groups that can provide advice on off-grid living in Victoria. There are actually two excellent resources available: one is the Moora Moora community near Healesville, which is a fully off-grid community. Additionally, in the same area, there is the Smart Energy Lab, where solar expert Glen Morris is happy to help and answer questions about off-grid solar systems, solar energy products like batteries and solar panels, and any challenges related to solar energy. The second resource is the Off-Grid Living Festival in Chiltern, Victoria, where a multitude of experts, companies, and individuals come together to share their experiences and knowledge about off-grid living.

Bushfire Risks for Off-Grid Solar Systems in Victoria: Challenges and Bushfire Risks and Future Challenges for Off-Grid Solar Systems in Victoria: Environmental Considerations Safety Considerations

Bushfire risks for off-grid solar systems in Victoria present significant challenges and safety considerations. This issue is not unique to Victoria; it is a common challenge across Australia, as bushfires are a widespread problem and many people choose to live in forested areas. Apart from bushfires, there are no other major environmental challenges specific to off-grid solar installations in Victoria. However, a significant challenge is anticipated about fifteen years in the future when lithium batteries will need to be replaced. This will pose a considerable environmental challenge, and currently, the state of Victoria is not fully prepared to start recycling solar batteries or panels.

Wildlife Challenges for Off-Grid Solar Systems: Insect Nests and Possum Damage

Wildlife can pose a problem for off-grid systems in the Victorian bush, and actually, anywhere. The first problem is insects building nests right behind the inverter in a heatsink and blocking cooling systems. Modern off-grid solar systems are capable of protecting from overheating by derating power output and, finally, it stops producing due to overheating. Another problem is if possums start eating cables, but this is very rare and most often happens in grid-connected solar in metropolitan areas where food sources are scarcer.

Impact of Victorian Energy Policies on Off-Grid Solar Systems: Grants and Indirect Effects

Energy policies in Victoria do not directly impact off-grid solar systems, as all energy regulations are tied to the national electrical grid. However, indirectly, these policies can influence the number of off-grid solar installations. Many people are dissatisfied with grid operators, electricity prices, and grid connection regulations, and prefer to be independent of these issues. Therefore, it could be argued that unfavorable energy policies indirectly have a positive effect on the adoption of off-grid solar systems in Victoria.

Unfortunately, there are additional grants for solar installations in Victoria, but only for grid-connected systems and batteries. The idea behind these grants is to encourage the installation of grid-connected battery systems that will be part of virtual power plants, with your system being managed by grid operators. This is another factor encouraging the installation of off-grid solar systems. Unfortunately, there are no grants available to support off-grid power supply for rural Victoria.

Off-Grid Solar System Sizes, Prices, and Extension Challenges

As previously mentioned regarding off-grid solar system sizes and prices, we recommend using our off-grid solar calculator and watching the video on the same page for guidance. As we’ve written before, a 10kW solar system is suitable for an average family and costs around $30k for dry regions in Victoria and around $40k for wet regions in Victoria.

Another common question is about the lifespan of solar panels and batteries. Solar panels are expected to last for 30 years, and most of them come with a 25-year warranty. Batteries are expected to work for around 15 years, with a typical warranty of 10 years, while inverters usually come with a 10-year warranty. In general, we can expect the system to work for a minimum of 15 years.

There are some challenges for off-grid system owners when they wish to extend their system. In some cases, if the system is too old, an extension may not be possible, and the system may need to be replaced or a second system installed. Adding extra batteries can be straightforward if your system is not more than 3 years old. We always recommend any extension within one year after installation. However, we’ve seen cases in the past where customers requested an extra battery, but the manufacturer had ceased production of the old model, making an extension impossible.

Backup Options for Off-Grid Living in Wet Areas of Victoria: Generators, Electric Vehicles, and Emerging Technologies

For people living off-grid in wet areas of Victoria, there are actually two backup options:

  1. The traditional method is using a generator. This is not very popular with many people due to the noise, smell, fuel, and maintenance requirements. A quick note on generator size: it’s best if the generator is the same size as the inverter in kW terms, but in reality, a 6kW generator can suffice as long as you’re cautious about power usage when it’s in operation.
  2. An emerging backup solution is using your electric vehicle (EV) as a backup battery. For this, two things are needed: a bi-directional DC car charger integrated into your off-grid solar system, and an EV that supports bi-directional use of the car battery. Essentially, in bad weather, you can drive to a fast charging station and get the car fully charged. This is a more attractive option than getting fuel in jerry cans.

Another technology that is still too expensive is a mini hydrogen power station, where you use water to extract hydrogen when solar power is abundant and use fuel cells to produce electricity.