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.
Can I just add more panels and batteries?
For the most part, yes - all our kits have some expansion ability that is compatible with the included gear. Standard kits are more limited, whereas hybrid kits have greater capacity to support extra panels and batteries. 48V hybrid kits have the greatest capacity to expand, and Lithium batteries have much greater capacity to expand than Gel.
|MAX Gel Batteries
|Upgrade to Lithium?
|Weekend Warrior w/ Hybrid Inverter
|Tiny House w/ Hybrid Inverter
|Bach Kit w/ Hybrid Inverter
|Freedom Kit w/ Hybrid Inverter
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!
With smaller kits you will 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. We recommend to have an equal or greater amount of panels to batteries.
Can I just more batteries to a GridFree kit?
We don't recommend adding more batteries without adding more panels. If you’re wanting more batteries because you’re concerned about running out of power, adding only batteries is likely to create more problems.
Why? 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. If you have gel batteries, it’s very important that your battery bank does get charged back up to 100% as much as possible, as leaving it in a state of partial discharge will degrade them.
If you do want to add batteries, you need to do so within about 6 months. Adding batteries more than 6 months after purchase 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 also added in accordance with your existing bank. If you have a 48V GEL bank, then you will need to add 4 batteries at a time - 24V requires 2 at a time. Lithium batteries can be added 1 at a time, up to 10 per hybrid inverter.
How do I add both panels and batteries to a kit?
The standard Weekend Warrior Kit will require an upgraded charge controller to support more panels, so if you think you might need to expand later, it's best to start with a hybrid inverter. All other kits support some level of expansion as you can see above.
With standard kits, anything above the max level will require a larger charge controller or inverter. If you have a hybrid kit, you can add up to 5 more hybrid inverters in parallel, and each will support it's own set of panels and batteries per the max number in the table.
To upgrade, simply get in touch and let us know your original order number so we can check compatibility, and then we'll make sure you get everything you need to add in the new components.
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.