As we continue to grapple with our growing solar PV power station, we’re learning how to manage within our means, power wise (or not on occasion); and get it all running smoothly. Although we have batteries as a buffer, there are some things better done on a sunny day, such as running the washing machine, and with a little careful juggling we can get away without using any mains at all. The idea is that once we can go a month ‘solo’, we can make the phone call to NIE and get the supply removed. Publishing our data live online and here on the website is a way to help others who are thinking of doing the same thing, as well as allowing us to keep an eye on how the system is behaving. We’ve also written some custom code which we think may be the first time someone has connected to the Victron system to pull information out to an external website.

It is, however a process of trial and error, and some errors are more expensive than others. Take for instance our AGM Gel batteries – over the summer we took our solar panels down and they sat around on the roof for months, during which time the batteries never properly charged. In the process, at least one of them has been rendered pretty much useless, and the others now only hold about half the charge they did when new. We’re running on a spare set until we can afford to put in a big set of traction batteries, but have learned just how carefully batteries need to be charged if they are to last as long as they should.

Our PV array now totals a full 4kw, and we just have a few last panels to mount on frames so that they are off the ground, and free of shade. We didn’t think we would be this close to being fully off grid for power just as soon, so to be within weeks of this is real cause for celebration for us.

Having become so involved in the whole off-grid power scene, we also have an exciting development afoot in association with an off grid equipment supplier, so watch this space, we will be announcing something soon..