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.
In all cases, please keep in mind that our new stock may not be compatible with your existing kit. Upgrading within 6 months, or at the time of purchase, is the best way to avoid this issue.
Should I add more batteries to a GridFree kit?
While it is possible, we don’t usually recommend it unless you’ll be adding more solar panels at the same time. If you’re wanting more batteries because you’re concerned about running out of power, adding batteries is likely to create more problems. You’ll still have the same amount of PV input, but with more batteries to charge, so it will take longer and be more difficult to charge your batteries back up to 100% without heavily reducing your power usage. It’s very important that your battery bank does get charged back up to 100% as much as possible, as leaving it at a state of partial discharge will degrade them.
Two more things to be aware of:
Adding batteries more than 6 months down the track will have an adverse effect on the lifespan of the new batteries – when new batteries are wired in with old batteries, their lifespan is reduced to that of the older batteries.
Batteries must be added in accordance with your existing bank. 48V GEL banks must be upgraded 4 batteries at a time, to a total limit of 12. Lithium batteries can be added 1 at a time to a total limit of 10.
How do I add more panels and batteries to a kit?
When expanding the kit you may need to upgrade your charge controller and possibly your inverter. This will depend on the wattage of your existing panels, how many you add, the voltage of your battery bank, and how many batteries you intend to add.
The Starter and Weekend Warrior kits cannot support additional panels without upgrading the charge controller. Without upgrading any existing components, the following additions are possible: The Tiny House Kit will support an extra two batteries. The Bach Kit can support an additional 4 panels and 4 batteries. The Freedom Kit can support an additional 6 panels and 4 batteries. The Lifestyle Kit can be expanded with up to 5 additional hybrid inverters, each supporting 12 additional panels and batteries.
Can I just add more panels to a GridFree kit?
Yes! If you feel like you are running out of power, we generally recommend adding more panels to a kit (rather than just batteries). If you currently have enough power (when the batteries can be fully charged), and you're mainly concerned about getting through periods of less sun, then adding more panels is the better choice. On low-light days you'll have a much easier time charging your existing batteries to full!
Keep in mind that panels generally need to be added according to your existing charge controller’s capacity, and with smaller kits you will likely need to upgrade the charge controller to support more panels, as detailed above. There are also some differences depending on the wattage of your solar panels, as the wattage of our panels has increased over the years.
If you’re looking to buy a kit and think you may want to expand it in future, let us know and we can make sure you’re set up with the right components to make expansion easy.
If you already have a kit and you’re planning to expand but are not sure what the right choice is, get in touch and we can help you.