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    How-To Articles

    Expanding a GridFree Solar Power Kit

    As we come into winter, you may not be getting the same amount of power out of your kit as you did in summer, so you might be considering expanding your solar power system, either by adding additional batteries or solar panels. There are a couple of things to consider before you do.

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    Why Aren't Lithium-Ion Batteries Standard?

    Why Aren't Lithium-Ion Batteries Standard?

    We do offer a LiFePo battery option - read about it here - however these are still important points to consider.

    “Why don’t these kits come with lithium batteries?”

    That’s a question that we get asked all of the time. More specifically, why we continue to sell lead-acid batteries instead of lithium-ion in our kits. Without question, lithium-ion batteries do present some distinct advantages that other types of batteries don’t offer. However, they do have some shortcomings and disadvantages that differ from those of traditional lead-acid batteries.

    Price

    Lithium-ion batteries have a lot of advantages when it comes to maintenance, energy density, and efficiency, but one of the biggest drawbacks to buying lithium-ion batteries right now is the price. Currently, in New Zealand, lithium-ion batteries cost roughly four times the amount of lead-acid batteries. You are going to get some notable differences in performance with a lithium-ion battery vs. a lead-acid, but the price difference is a very significant factor.

    Added Protection

    Lithium-ion batteries need added protection that lead-acid batteries don’t. They can be easily overcharged or discharged below a safe limit, which means you needed protective circuitry incorporated in your battery system. This is not only an added cost but an added complication as well. Our Lithium batteries do come with this advanced battery management system.

    New Technology

    Another reason that we haven't fully converted is due to the fact that this is a technology that is still very new. Though lithium-ion batteries have been in popular use for years, much of the technology is still evolving, and we expect the price to drop as time goes on.. Lead-acid batteries are a mature and refined piece of technology that is reliable, well understood, and affordable.

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    Though we don’t currently provide lithium-ion batteries as standard in our kits, it is not something that we expect to avoid indefinitely. As technology improves and the cost of these batteries begin to level out, this is a product that we believe will be much more viable in our business, in the foreseeable future. For the time being, while lithium-ion batteries do have many distinct advantages over lead-acid, we don't believe this outweighs the current price difference, so will continue to use lead-acid batteries until lithium-ion becomes the superior option. 

     

    Cable Connections

    There are a few different connectors between different components in our kits, so here a couple tips and tricks to make sure everything is done correctly.

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    How to Choose your Solar Panel Mount

    While our Starter and Weekend Warrior Kits come with Z-brackets, our Tiny House, Bach, Freedom, and Lifestyle Kits come with your choice of roof or ground mount, and you can also opt for the corrugated mount or upgrade to the tilt mount.

    Here’s a breakdown of how the different mounts are installed and used, to help you pick the right one:

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    Off-Grid Solar 101 - How Does an Off-Grid Solar Power System Work?

    So how does off grid solar work?

    It’s a pretty simple process!

    The solar panels collect energy from the sun’s rays, which is stored in the batteries, so the energy will be available to use after the sun goes down. This is the key difference between grid-tied and off-grid solar - grid-tied solar doesn’t store any energy for later.

    To make this system a little easier to understand, you can also visualise this as water collection.

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    Off-Grid Solar Batteries: Lead Acid vs Lead Carbon vs Lithium

    Off-Grid Solar Batteries: Lead Acid vs Lead Carbon vs Lithium
    When it comes to setting up your own off-grid solar system, there are typically three solutions to the question of how to store all that energy: Lithium Ion, Sealed Lead-Acid, and Lead Carbon. Each presenting a mixture of pros and cons, it can be tricky to decide which will best suit the specific needs of each system. Here we will try to highlight some of the strengths, weaknesses, and ideal uses for each of these forms of battery.

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