Off-grid solar power kits offer easy installation, greater efficiency and new technology

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February 3, 2015: With the thrust on boosting the use of solar energy in the country, solar equipment manufacturers are continuously upgrading their products by incorporating newer technologies

By Shweta Sengar

Solar power is the future of energy and going by this fact, India is pressing hard to promote the use of renewable energy like solar, wind and hydro power rather than non-renewable energy like thermal power. A lot of measures have been taken in this regard. Many solar parks and solar projects have been developed in order to boost consumption of solar power. Solar off-grid kits are pre-designed and packaged solar systems. These kits make the planning and installation of solar energy systems very easy, and offer users an environment friendly energy supply in the most diverse and extreme climatic conditions. An off-grid solar power kit is made up of three parts—a solar power conditioning unit (PCU), a battery bank and a PV panel. A solar PCU comprises a solar charge controller, an inverter and a grid charger. The PCU gives preference to solar power for charging and will only draw grid power when the solar power available is insufficient. The major application areas for off-grid solar power kits are hospitals, educational institutions, commercial buildings, government offices, petrol bunks, construction companies, workshops, water power pumps, etc.

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What’s new in the market

With the thrust on boosting the use of solar energy in the country, solar equipment manufacturers are continuously upgrading their products and are coming up with new technologies.

MPPT solar charge controllers: Su-Kam offers a wide range of off-grid solar solutions, which include the solar power conditioning unit, home and street lighting systems and solar charge controllers. Speaking about the uniqueness of Su-Kam’s off-grid solar power kits, Kunwar Sachdev, managing director, Su-Kam informs, “Our solar products are technologically very advanced and therefore also very flexible. They come packed with unique features such as MPPT technology (maximum power point tracking), battery equalisation, and are compatible with various configurations. In addition, they have features to protect the batteries, maximise the harnessing of solar energy and much more.

Special features have been integrated for installations in remote areas where grid power is weak and solar energy is available.”

Su-Kam’s MPPT technology based products dynamically track the curve of the solar array, which ensures that they operate at its maximum power point. The technology helps to calculate the voltage (V) at which the solar panel delivers maximum power, and the panel then operates at this level to extract the maximum available power. The solar charge controller continuously recalculates maximum power voltage according to changing operating conditions. The MPPT microprocessor increases the energy transfer efficiency by up to 120 per cent. Faster recharging increases the performance of the system by storing more of the limited output of solar panels. The optimum efficiency of the inverter section, along with the highly efficient MPPT charge controller, helps to generate maximum power from solar panels. This enhances the output of the entire solar energy system. Apart from this, the off-grid solar power kit from Su-Kam offers periodic auto-equalisation from the MPPT solar charge controller for enhanced battery health, protection against faults, regulated charging of batteries, protection against high ambient temperatures, flexible design and pure sine wave output. The system gives priority to solar power for battery charging.

Solar power systems have the option of being charged from the grid as well, which is important for areas where solar energy availability is intermittent. However, they are designed to give priority to solar power. In addition, the user can decide from where to draw power just by changing the switch to solar battery mains or solar mains battery.

Kunwar Sachdev added, “What sets Su-Kam apart from the competition is our ability to provide turnkey solutions for both large projects as well as small home lighting requirements. We offer the entire spectrum of solar power systems that we have implemented across the globe—from lighting schools in remote villages in Rwanda, to powering up telecom towers in Afghanistan and homes in Gabon, we have done it all. Su-Kam stays a step ahead of the technology and we are constantly innovating to bring newer products to the market. Our focus is to give our customers a solution that addresses their pain points.”

Optimised and low maintenance systems: Conergy off-grid systems are professionally designed to operate with the standard load of a household that includes lighting, entertainment equipment, kitchen appliances and refrigeration appliances. Conergy’s off-grid series is available in two typical setups, which are most commonly used to provide power to remote areas. Conergy’s off-grid solar kit can bear a typical load of a refrigerator, television, lights, domestic pressure pump and a washing machine. The system/kit is simple to install, easy to operate, and convenient to maintain. It gives pure sine wave output.

Efficient power conditioning units: UTL UPS has launched an energy-efficient solar PCU (power conditioning unit) which uses the advanced MPPT technology in order to extract maximum power from the solar panel. The PCU gives preference to solar energy and switches to grid power only if the energy is insufficient. The solar charger is IGBT based. The overall system is compact and easy to install. UTL PCUs offer the following ratings: 1kVA, 2kVA, 3kVA, 5kVA, 6kVA, 7.5kVA and 10kVA. The power conditioning unit from UTL is self-configurable, which means that a layman can install the system without any technical help or expertise. An LCD display on the system makes it easier to control the power options. According to the specifications, if the battery voltage is more than 11.75V, the PCU will give priority to solar power and only under different conditions will the power load be switched to the grid. UTL also offers batteries that are configured with the power conditioning unit. A customer can choose from a wide range of batteries like flat flooded batteries, tubular flooded batteries, SMF batteries and lead acid batteries.

How to choose the right product

Since buying off-grid solar power kits involves a heavy investment, there are several parameters one should evaluate before making a choice. Here are some of them.

Meeting energy standards: A customer must check that the product meets and complies with all the energy standards. This ensures long and efficient life of a system.

Solutions provider: A solar inverter or a solar kit alone does not mean that the customer can use solar energy. The entire solar power solution includes the inverter, battery and solar panels. The customer must consider a solar solutions provider or a one-stop shop rather than just a solar product seller. This would ensure that the customer does not have to run from shop to shop, matching the battery and the panels to the solar product purchased. It is also important to purchase the product from a reputed company.

Service: A solar system can be installed by anyone; however, it is the after sales service that is critical. This must be the focus of the customer while making a purchase decision.

Quality: It is quite obvious that every customer would like to purchase a quality product. In the case of solar equipment, the customer could consider the required certifications such as IEC or IS certifications. These bear testimony to the stringent quality norms that the product adheres to.

Warranty: Customers must ensure that they are buying a product that comes with a warranty and after sales service. As consumers are just beginning to get a flavour of the new technology, they are apprehensive about adopting it entirely; hence, it is important that the manufacturer offers a warranty and after sales service to ensure support to the buyer.

Su-Kam’s off-grid solar kits

  • MPPT microprocessor

  • Microcontroller and digital signal processing

  • Protection from reverse polarity connection

  • LCD and LED display for monitoring

Conergy’s off-grid solar kits

  • SolarLinea mounting system

  • MIC 1500W pure sine wave inverter

  • 40A solar charge controller

  • Battery fuses

  • Small switchboard

  • 30m of 6mm twin sheathed cable

UTL UPS’ power conditioning units

  • LCD display to manage charging current

  • Output voltage selection – 220/230/240V

  • Available in 36 cell/72 cell configurations

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