Our Solar Garage
We needed a Garage to house our cars, a caravan, farm machinery and a workshop area, so I used the opportunity to begin planning my solar energy system as part of the garage Project.
The first things to consider are the optimum solar location and orientation of the garage and the shape of the roof.
As we are on a hectare property we had many potential sites to consider. Fortunately we found a site within 30 meters of the house, and running parallel to our boundary it faces within 5 degrees of North. However, the location needed a lot of fill, 20 truckloads, to get it level with the drive.
But the site was perfect and so we started with that. It was 3 months before the fill was in place and settled. In the meanwhile I set about designing the Garage.
It was a simple choice to use a large flat skillion roof angling north to maximise the solar surface. I combined that with a large roofed awning over the doors to provide open work space as well as preventing rain entry to open doors under any conditions.
I also doubled the number of top-hat batons on the roof to increase the strength and reduce risk of buckling the corrugated colour bond roof during installation and maintenance of the solar system.
I insulated the roof and installed 4 vertical clear corrugated panels on the northern face to compliment the roof vent windows on the south. No lighting is needed anywhere inside during the day and the venting provided by the louver windows above the doors, combined with the roof insulation, keeps the interior cool.
My workshop area has 2 windows directly over the workbenches.
Natural venting and lighting plays a big part in my hybrid solar equation.
Electricians linked the Garage with the House and the Grid with low resistance cable.
Well now we have a large roof facing north and suitable cabling – it’s time to install a solar system!
Starting with the roof, we have 6kW of Trina panels.
Feeding into a Kako Powador Inverter.
Which in turn is controlled by the Selectronic SP-Pro (right).
Which in turn controls the Battery bank (below).
The Hybrid Solar Energy System is complete.
The SP-Pro creates a legal power island in the case of grid failure, or if I should decide to disconnect.
This is not allowed with normal back-to-grid systems, and all back-to-grid inverters have an “anti-islanding circuit” that switches the inverter of when the grid fails (for grid safety reasons).
With the SP-Pro, the solar inverters see it as the grid, and it keeps your island alive. When the grid fails, the SP-Pro isolates your island from the grid, not feeding any power back, as per legal requirement, but keeping your island alive using the available Solar (or wind) supply, and using the batteries, if required, in a stand-alone mode until the grid recovers.
Not 2 months after we installed the system it was put to the test with a 6 day grid failure following the severe storms of January 2013. We had heaps of power, and supplied neighbors (via long extension leads) keeping their fridges and freezers going, as well as recharging phones etc, during the daytime hours. We were even running the Air conditioner in the heat of the day during the outage.
That is the story of my Solar Garage. It has been a very fruitful project. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction that I have succeeded in becoming totally energy self sufficient!
Other elements contributing to our complete Hybrid Package in Our Solar Home.