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13 Comments

  1. The author left out what the power output is. It seems a heavy duty robust system but only powering 6 – 110 volt circuits seems quite a bit underutilized.
    My off grid system is 1/2 the size and provides all my needs. It’s 220volt 4KW inverter in enough to power the house, barn and shop and well.
    Also cost is always a consideration. What did the system cost?

  2. You are scaring me. All lead acid batteries sealed and flooded cell alike give off hydrogen (flammable) gas to some extent. It is lighter than air and can accumulate in a poorly vented area, you have a potential bomb in your garage. Battery boxes are normally vented to the exterior, often with a brushless fan/blower assist and they are never located near a possible source of ignition. Also if you need 240 volts to run things a Buck and Boost transformer can turn 120vac to 240vac or the other way around. This is commonly used for 240vac water well pump installations. I am not sure of the wattage of this system but ac is a huge watt sucker and requires an initial starting current of at least 2 times it’s running current as do well pumps.

        1. The Emergency valve is only used if your charger to batteries were >16-17V per 12V battery. Example: you hooked solar panels directly to batteries without a solar charge controller. This is true for AGM & Gel. But Gel cells have to be charged at 3-4x slower rates than AGM because it is so easy to gas Gell cells (much older technology than AGM). So unless you have a massive (think 32+ battery) storage bank, AGM’s are far superior to Gel for 98% of people.
          As long as you keep your ~250W-330W Solar Panels in the same range as the number of AGM batteries, you will be fine. Or Watt hour of AGM batteries / 3 > Solar Panel Watts. Hint: The solar panels almost never produce what they are rated in the real world and your inverter is also taking power away from the battery charge.
          Example: 1500W of solar panels (6x250W) < 5000Wh (12v 100Ah x 4 = 4800Wh).

  3. I’ve also had a very positive experience with Sol-Ark I opted to get two of the 4K systems described by James. A total of 30 panels, 16 batteries, and two transfer switches. That lets me have a total of twelve circuits running on solar. Among other things we’re running three refrigerators, two freezers, various lights and receptacles, microwave, washer, etc.

    I ground mounted the panels in two rows on mounting hardware provided by Sol-Ark My panels are about 200 feet from the house. I had to build a small building about 100 feet from both the panels and the house to install the electronics. The battery boxes are located outside the building. I chose to use wet batteries and needed to be able to vent them to the atmosphere. The power produced by the Sol-Ark system goes from the building housing the electronics to the house where the transfer switches are located.
    The system has been working flawlessly for almost 8 months now.

    The system is designed so that during the day the circuits you have run through the transfer switch run on solar as long as the batteries do not discharge below, I believe, 90% of capacity. At night the system automatically switches to the grid. It also switches to the grid if the batteries discharge sufficiently. The equipment indicates whether you’re running on battery or grid power. For the first month I ran the system I never saw it switch to the grid as it was supposed to do. Occasionally my battery discharge would be more than 90% of capacity, and I was still running off the batteries at night. When I started carefully checking to determine the source of the problem I discovered I had neglected to connect the systems to the grid by plugging in the cords that feed grid power to the system. That was an unintentional error, but it provided a good real world test of the system in the absence of grid power. The system passed with flying colors.
    I also have the emp hardened version.

    One other feature of my system is that I also have my generator connected in a way that lets me use it if grid power is not available. That lets me use the generator to charge the batteries if necessary, but minimizes generator use to save fuel and minimize noise.

    First rate system. First rate people to deal with. If you’re going to get one deal directly with Sol-Ark.

  4. You get what you pay for. These systems aren’t cheap, but they are quality, and they are emp hardened. You can have Sol-Ark set the system up to produce 240 instead of 120. Once it’s set up that way it’s software selectable. Usually 240 is the result of two 120 legs that are out of phase with one another. That’s not the way it works here. I’m not clear on how the inverter produces 240 but from what Tom Brennan told me it’s not that way. They chose the inverter they did because it has extremely low power consumption to run the inverter. My understanding is that more conventional inverters use a lot more power. That power is then unavailable to run your loads.

    The fact is you’re not going to run heavy starting loads like heating/ac or water heating with solar. At least not at a price that makes any sense. You can run window ac with solar, just be careful of the sizing. Solar central ac is available but uses a different technology than the usual compressor.

  5. The only thing missing is a good battery charging section when you have grid power yet it rains for a few days while you are using battery power to keep grid cost down…

    1. The Sol-Ark has both an AC/DC Charger from the Grid/Generator and an internal AC transfer switch all the loads over. It’s all done automatically on cloudy days, nights, and Grid failures.

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