What is an Off Grid Solar System?

Off Grid Solar Systems are not connected to the grid. Instead, they allow owners to own their power, and allow them to forget about power bills. Off Grid Solar Systems include:

Off Grid Systems sound scary however in reality they are just maintenance free and easy to live with. Australian’s all over the country tell us that their system operates as though they were living on the grid. That’s what we aim for when designing an Off-Grid system.

How does Off Grid Solar Work?

  1. Starting from the Sun, its sunlight hits the panels and creates an electric field which will pass through your charge controller to charge your batteries or to run your appliances.
  2. When your battery bank is full to its maximum capacity (100%), solar electricity passes through the inverter charger and is used to power your household appliances.
  3. When your battery bank is anything, but full, solar electricity passes through the systems charge controller, and charges your batteries which is power that can be used now, or later.
  4. When you decide to use an appliance, DC power passes through the inverter charger from the DC battery bank and is transformed into 240V power which is used to power your 240V loads/appliances.
  5. As a backup power source, a premium off grid diesel generator is an excellent solution as it provides energy security on a string of cloudy days in the cooler months of the year.

Want to learn more?

Download a free copy of Your Ultimate Guide to Off Grid brought to you by Commodore Australia.

How do I calculate an Off Grid Solar System?

It’s imperative to make sure that you or an Off Grid Solar Specialist completes an appliance load profile/calculation before you choose your solar system. Without it, you’re guessing.

It’s the equivalent of driving a car blindfolded.

You can start the calculations yourself by using Commodore’s Off Grid Solar Calculator to find out 2 important figures:

  1. Potential Load (kW)
  2. Expected Consumption (Average kWh per day)

link to Commodore's Off Grid Calculator which helps users calculate the right Off Grid Solar System for their needs

The Potential Load is basically the amount of power you’d be using if you turned every appliance on at once when appliances are running at their full surge capacity. Sizing your inverter requires human interpretation of your potential load, we do this by having a conversation with you about your system. Whereas the Expected Consumption is how much power you’re expected to use each day and confirms how much solar and battery storage you will need.

Upon completing an Off Grid Calculation, one of Commodore’s Off Grid designers will complete a solar panel design by using either satellite imagery to ensure the required number of panels will fit on your roof with consideration to the maximum voltage on DC Charge Controllers & AC Inverters. Alternatively, if the shed/structure has not been built and is not available on satellite imagery, Commodore’s Off Grid designers, will ask for the dimensions of your panel area and a photo of the structure to ensure it’s suitable.

If the solar panels fit like a glove, we are in luck! Our design is finished. However, if they don’t fit on the desired structure, don’t fear. We can incorporate ground-mounts to the system.

Off Grid Solar System Cost

The cost of an Off Grid Solar System varies on the required capacity of the system indicated by the calculation of the system design.

Off Grid Generators

Off Grid Generators must be considered differently to a standard generator. This is because they have numerous key features which make Off Grid Living so much easier including however not limited to:

  • Two Wire Auto Start which truly makes off grid easy. Two wire auto start ensures the generator turns on when your batteries state of charge decreases. Either you, or Commodore can set the cut in state of charge to make the generator turn on automatically rather than you having to constantly worry about running out of power.
  • Low RPMs are essential if you’re seriously thinking about going Off Grid. Some 3-cylinder Diesel Water-cooled generator such as Commodore’s 9KVA runs at only 1500rpm instead of 3000rpm like many generators on the market which only have 2 cylinders. This means that the motor is working half as hard to provide the same power, this reduces noise, vibration, plus wear and tear on the motor. Substantially improving longevity.

Off Grid Generators are available in Air-cooled and Water-cooled.

Air-cooled generators are perfect for smaller systems. They are priced cheaper however are limited by only being able to run for a maximum of 6 hours.

Water-cooled generators are more expensive, however have the grunt and strength to run large loads/appliances.

Distinguish between a watercooled off grid generator and an aircooled

With a water-cooled generator there is no limit on how long the generator can run for continuously. This is so useful when having an Off-Grid Solar System. It’s like having an insurance policy. An example of when a water-cooled off grid generator can be useful is if in 15 years’ time, one component needs to be replaced in your off-grid system, whilst you’re waiting to get that one part replaced you can run your house for a week straight off a water-cooled generator until the component is replaced. If this happens on Christmas day, you’ll be thankful to have this available power whilst waiting to replace the part.

Installation available Australia wide!

Off Grid installation is made easy with Commodore’s Pre Wired-Boards. However, we recommend you use a CEC Off Grid Accredited Installer to have access to the financial incentives on offer from the Australian Government through the Clean Energy Regulator’s Small-scale technology certificate scheme.

Commodore works with over 100 Off-Grid installers around the country, which means, it’s likely we know an accredited CEC installer near you. Whether it is from Perth to Hobart or anywhere else across Australia, our off-grid solar systems have been installed.

Why choose a CEC Approved Retailer?

Showing off the CEC Approved Retailer logo is for more than just good looks. It provides consumers reassurance in more way than one:

  1. Being a CEC Retailer means the workmanship on our Pre-Wired Off Grid Boards is to a minimum of 5 years. If you’re not a CEC retailer you don’t have to provide this guarantee.
  2. The CEC examined our organisation to ensure we were the real deal and were compliant to the Council’s high standards. By choosing a CEC Approved Retailer you can reassured that you aren’t choosing a flash in the pan type organisation who changes names every 2 years. Instead, they are a reputable brand who is committed to helping their clients.

To the point, choosing a qualified and certified company like Commodore Australia is essential.

Small Off-Grid Systems

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

 

 

 

Medium/Large Off-Grid Systems

Medium/large off grid solar system fit for moderate power users such as families

Overview: 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

 

 

 

Commercial Off Grid Systems

Commercial grade off grid system fit for businesses and large power users

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

 

 

 

Off Grid Battery options

Lead-acid

Traditional off grid battery type which is commonly used in caravans and tiny home off grid systems

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 carbonAn off grid battery choice which is more affordable than other alternatives

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 BatteriesRegarded as one of the highest performing lithium batteries in the off-grid solar market

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

Off Grid Brands & Products

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.

Inverters and Charge Controllers

Batteries

Solar panels

Generators:

How can I expand an Off Grid Solar System?

The 3 main components of an Off Grid Solar Kit are the:

– Inverter Charger

– Batteries

– Solar

As long as you choose Lithium Batteries, you can expand an Off Grid System as much as you’d like without impairing performance. With Victron Energy’s Inverter Chargers (both their Multiplus & Quattro range),  you may add 1, 2 or even 3 more Inverter Chargers onto your system by adding them in parallel. This is great to know if your power requirements change down the track.

Solar is easy to add in an Off Grid System too. As long as you have the available space on your roof, or have room to ground mount Solar, you may add additional panels by adding another MPPT charge controller (+ relevant breakers/fuses).

Lastly, Lithium Battery technology allows you to increase the capacity of your modular battery bank without impairing performance. Older Lead Acid Battery technology does not allow you to add onto your battery bank after a few years without impairing the new batteries cycle life. This is one of the key reasons Lithium Batteries are endorsed by Commodore.

Fully Customisable Off Grid Systems

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

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