Off Grid Solar Systems

1.Is living with a fully Off Grid Solar System possible?

Australian couple living off grid

One word yes. Living off-grid has become affordable for Australian’s, and many individuals all around the world as a result of falling costs of production, and an increase in supply of solar panels, inverters and in particular, lithium batteries, which is great for you guys as you’re learning and exploring what’s out there in the off grid solar market.

As you might have seen on our site, you can get an off grid system to run your basic appliances such as a fridge, kettle, toaster, LED lights, TV for $7450 which doesn’t need pallets of solar panels or roof space either, just 6. However don’t let that lead you to think that’s as far as an off grid solar system can take you. Believe it or not, off grid systems can now even run factories! To the point, families no longer have to worry if an off grid system is possible, or in their price range (I’ll expand on this shortly). Even for parents who feel as though their young/teenage kids use 4 times too much power than they should, off grid is still possible thanks to really exciting innovations and discoveries in the industry.

2. How does Off-Grid work?

Electricity users or systems that are not connected to the main electricity grid are described as “off grid”. Commodore has been living and breathing all things off-grid since 2012 and we have seen first hand, the increase in demand for off-grid technology as Australia is exposed to:

  • Rising grid electricity prices
  • Increasing power outages leading to energy insecurity
  • Decreasing prices of solar and lithium batteries

Whilst many Australian’s are starting to go off-grid, there are 2 golden questions that still get asked every day:

  1. How does off-grid solar work?
  2. Is off-grid solar financially viable?

Rather than a 5000-word description, we will try and summarise it in a few sentences.

How does Off Grid Solar work

  • Starting from the Sun, it’s sunlight hits the panels and creates an electric field which will pass through either the two avenues (charge controller or inverter).
  • When your battery bank is full to it’s maximum capacity (100%), PV electricity passes through the inverter charger and is used to power your household appliances.
  • When your battery bank is anything but full, PV electricity passes through the systems charge controller, and charges your batteries which is power that can be used now, or later.
  • As a backup power source, a Premium Off Gird Diesel Generator is an excellent solution as it provides energy security on a string of cloudy days in the cooler months of the year.

3. Small Off-Grid Systems

small off grid solar system

Overview: Small off-grid solar systems are perfect for caravans, cabins, units, sheds, cutting to the chase, circumstances where not a lot of power is being used. Our most popular system in this category is our Ultimate Budget Off-Grid System which provides users with power for basic essentials such as the kettle, toaster, TV, lights, and fridge and it puts you out of pocket $7450.

Category Pricing: $4950 – $15800

Pre Wired-Boards available: Yes

4. Medium/Large Off-Grid Systems

Medium/large off grid solar systemOverview: Medium/Large off-grid solar systems are designed for Australian households, and for most, have enough solar to power your house. Our most popular system in this category is our With Generator Off-Grid System which provides users with the power to run your basic appliances, and the air conditioner/some power tools. As the name gives away, it also includes a Premium Off Grid Generator which provides users with energy security over Winter which is a great reassurance. This system is worth $27900.

Category Pricing: $9999 – $62500

Pre Wired-Boards available: Yes

5. Commercial Off Grid SystemsCommercial off grid solar system

Overview: Commercial off-grid solar systems are ready for factories, farms, large households and anything in between. Single-phase and three-phase options are available and the same as all of our off-grid systems, the system can be fully customised to suit your kilowatt usage and requirements. Our most popular system in this category is our Portable Off-Grid Power Station, this is perfect for builders, mining companies, or anyone requiring large-scale portable power. This system is worth $48990.

Category Pricing: $29850 – $554000

Pre Wired Boards available: Yes

6. Battery options

Lead-acidAGM/Lead acid batteries

For many years, lead-acid was the top choice of batteries for off-grid systems. They have proven to be effective in Australian conditions and have a long life if not regularly discharged low. Unlike lithium, they can be discharged to 0% however it’s detrimental to the batteries.

Advantages:

  • Tried and proven over time
  • Great for weekenders/cabins where the batteries are not being discharged often
  • Lower cost

Disadvantages:

  • Heavy and difficult to transport
  • Difficult to expand onto the system in a few years
  • Normally lower warranty period than lithium

Lead carbonLead carbon batteries

For years, Commodore has cited lead-carbon as a middle point between lead-acid and lithium when comparing price/discharge cycles. Lead carbon batteries banks provide you with bang for your buck, as our Commodore Carbon’s can provide you with 3500 cycles at 50% discharge, which is huge compared to 1200 cycles at 50% discharge for our AGM batteries.

Advantages:

  • Proven to have a high cycle life
  • Low cost compared to lithium
  • Great for weekenders/cabins where the batteries are not being discharged often

Disadvantages:

  • Heavy and difficult to transport
  • Difficult to expand onto the system in a few years
  • Lower warranty period than lithium

Lithium-Ion BatteriesPylontech lithium batteries

Whilst lithium is the newest to the market out of the batteries available currently, they are definitely the most exciting as a result of their low cost of ownership. Take our Pylontech batteries, they have an exceptional cost of ownership of approximately 15 cents per kWh which is fantastic considering mains ranges between 22/28 cents per kWh.

Advantages:

  • Very efficient – 99% +
  • High discharge cycles – Pylontech US3000 have 10000 to 50%
  • Are much lighter – only 40kg for most 3-3.55kWh modules
  • Most come with a huge 10 year warranty

Disadvantages:

  • Higher upfront cost
  • Have a discharge cut-off point (which is a positive and negative in some ways as it preserves the life of your battery)
  • Older inverters may not be compatible with the new modules

7. How we can help you find the right off-grid system

Sizing up the right off grid solar system for you doesn’t happen in a couple of seconds. Our process is thorough. The team at Commodore will:

  • Calculate your appliance load by calculating the kW load of each appliance, and multiplying it by the residents estimated hourly use per day
  • Compare the options, as we discussed above, each battery type has different pro’s and con’s and each resident has a different budget/different needs wants and demands. This is why we compare the options and find the right system to suit
  • When we have a system in mind, we will double check everything and refine your system down to the type of railing required. In this stage we will also plan the installation down to where the batteries will be stored, panels mounted, cabling required etc.

If you’re looking to do a bit of prior research before getting in contact with Commodore about an off grid solar system. I would highly recommend you make the most of our latest innovation, our Off Grid Calculator. Our calculator has been designed to make life easier for you by simply ticking the boxes for which appliances you use, and answering how many hours per day you will use each appliance. Watch the video below to see how to use our calculator.

8. Fully expandable systems

As a result of lithium-ion technology, off-grid systems are now almost fully expandable. With lithium batteries such as Pylontech, BYD, and Powerplus, Australian’s living off-grid are no longer restricted by their battery capacity/power storage which is a great development for off gridders.

9. Backup power sources

Fuel fed generators are a reliable & durable backup for your off-grid home or business. Whether your off-grid or on the grid, generators are useful. In the case of a grid blackout, a generator is an effective power source that will save you potentially hundreds of dollars in the lost fridge/freezer stock whilst making life much more comfortable in a lengthy blackout. If you’re an outback or camping fanatic, a portable is a must. They are quite often your only power source, hence it’s important to choose quality models, backed up by years of testing and experience in the industry.

10. Lifetime support

Commodore is proud to provide lifetime support for all of it’s customers, on all of their purchases. It is a commitment we strongly value, as it represents:

  • The high-quality products Commodore supplies
  • Expert advice Commodore provides on every quote
  • How we back up what we sell

We have a designated support team who work diligently to answer all of your questions and provide expert guidance on your journey with Commodore. It is pleasing to hear positive feedback of this initiative too. Google reviews such as “The after-sales support has been fantastic”, and happy smiles from our customers make it all worthwhile. Discover what lifetime support means for you.

11. Fully customisable 

Customisation is essential in an off-grid system because everyone’s electrical load (kW usage) is different. We have a range of stand-alone solar systems which are designed for purposes such as powering a:

  • Shed
  • Tiny House
  • Medium House
  • Large House
  • Industrial and Commercial Operation
  • Caravanning, boating, and everything in between

Commodore also has customisable listings which allow you to tweak your inverter, battery banks, and the number of solar panels to suit your budget. Many of our lithium listings are expandable which means you aren’t restricted by your starting system either. Importantly, our customisable listings ensure we can tailor-make a system to your requirements. Because of this commitment to customisation, we see fantastic results for our valued customers.

We even had an editorial published by the Land on Commodore’s off-grid solar systems.

12. National wide installation

Commodore has worked with and has contact with over 100 off-grid installers around the country, which means, it’s likely we know an accredited installer near you. Whether it be from Perth to Hobart or anywhere in between, our off-grid solar systems have been installed.

13. International presence

If you’re living overseas, country boundaries are not a restriction for Commodore. We have actually worked closely with businesses overseas, particularly in the South Pacific region of Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and many more. Our channels ensure freight costs are low which makes Australian off-grid systems affordable, and of high quality with lifetime support.

14. Trusted Brands

It’s imperative to get the best quality off grid gear because you rely on it for your power, and because Commodore provides lifetime support, we rely on our off grid equipment being the best.

This is why for inverters and charge controllers we use:

Batteries:

Solar panels:

Commodore Australia is CEC Accredited 

Also, did you know Commodore Australia is a Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer? This is an approval only granted to organisations cited to be conducting ethical and correct practices as a distributor and installer of solar.

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