the Off-Grid Garage

DIY Solar-Battery Projects

Learn more about solar energy, batteries and energy storage!

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Here on the Off-Grid Garage website, you will find easy to understand videos and instructions, explaining how to build and setup your own energy system. We will dive into topics like balancing, series/parallel connections, remote control and do battery tests to better understand how it works together.

Follow me on my journey to take my garage off-the-grid and power it only from solar energy and battery storage.

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EVE LF304 Prismatic Cells
On the test bench…

I just received these brand new EVE LF304 prismatic cells. They look identical to the 280Ah cells I already have.
We take a look at the dimensions and weight and also do a full capacity test with our ZKE Battery Tester and have a look at the recorded charge and discharge curves.
Man these cells seem to be really good quality and exceed the rated capacities. These will be the cells I will buy next for my battery extension.
I bought them from Qishou Technology in China (Link here) and was very happy with their service again.

JK-BMS and EVE LF280 Capacity Test

We’re capacity testing the EVE F280Ah LiFePO4 cells from China and see if they hold what they promise. (Find them here)

I’m also testing the top balance capability of the new JK-BMS in this test. I really like this BMS and its active balancing capabilities. And the cells of course, I really like the cells too. The combination of both seems to be perfect!

Active Cell-Balancer – Will it save this battery?

OK, I know, I always said, I will not buy an active balancer for my battery! And I’m standing to this statement. Instead I bought TWO active balancers, one for my battery and one for some testing. I went with the 5A version. Well, most active balancers promise you to balance with 5A, right?! Up to 5A it says… A random selection of 4 cells connected in series was the perfect test candidate for the balancer. Will it pass the test and get Andy’s approval?

I always said I won’t install an active balancer on my battery, so this is just a test, right?! It’s a test! 😊This morning, the battery was at 12%SoC and very out of balance and I was wondering what would happen if we install the active balancer from Hankzor. Can it balance out these high capacity cells and save the battery from been disconnected by the BMS? It’s a test, right?

The Story.

In April 2012, a friend of mine, Luke, told me that he was going to install a solar system on his roof and it would pay itself in just under 5 years. Yeah, nah, I said (apparently that’s what you say in Australia if you mean no). He also told me that the government incentives for such systems would run out by end of financial year (That is 30. June here in Australia, if you don’t know. For some reason the financial year is offset by 6 months to the calendar year. This is good and bad and a whole other story for a different blog…).
Anyways, that night, yes, that same night, I did my calculations based on the quote he received and damn, he was right! In fact, I could get the investment back within 3 years accordingly to my own usage of electricity.

Because I had little time to get my head around the tech behind such systems, I just went with the same company he did and received a very similar quote just a few days later. $8.500 (that’s Australien Dollar) for a whole 5.1kW system including inverter, all installation and fees. Shut up and take my money!
We are living on a rural property, have a pool, an electric hot water system (yeah, I know!) and have a gazillion pumps for the good & bad water. We also have 3 kids (that is like another gazillion pumps). Our power bill was over $600 per quarter and I was hoping to half that with the new solar system.

The Idea.

So, here we go. 8 years later and the Chinese system is still running. So far, it generated over 41.000kWh of energy. Ah, yeah, the costs of my power bill went to zero and we are getting money back. Sometimes.
This all sounds good and reaches a happy end now, right? But hey, wait, there is more. The good thing is, the system works and hopefully will continue doing so in the future. The bad thing is, we have so much unused roof space and I do need to look at it every day!
Due to the contractual limitations, we cannot expand or change the existing solar system. We cannot over-provisioning the solar panels, we cannot replace the inverter with a larger one. We are allowed to repair and replace components if they are the same size and performance or smaller! I know… 🤦

So here is my idea to move forward and create more energy:

I take parts of the property off-grid.

Disconnecting some loads from my main supply and run them from a different power source is neither forbidden nor does it harm my existing contract. Well, not quite. It’s complicated, so let me explain…

If I could just find a free alternative power source… 😉 🌞

“Solar energy is bound to be in our future. There’s a kind of inevitability about it.”

Jim Inhofe

This website is for educational purposes only. I share my own personal thoughts, opinion and experience. The website can contain sponsored affiliate links for different products and services where the suppliere pays me a small commission, if someone clicks on these links and finalises a purchase. I solely pay for all my products with my own money unless otherwise stated in the video or product description. If you have any questions, need advice or have personal project enquiries, please leave your comments below my videos for the community and myself to respond to. For all other enquiries, please email andy@off-grid-garage.com (not for personal advice or consultation).

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