How I decided to go off grid?
Feb 24, 2023
As the price of electricity in Europe has tripled to anywhere from 10 times, the cost of heating oil has also doubled. Keeping my electricity supply no longer sustainable, I was forced to look for alternatives and started looking at parts of the house grid that did not require 110 volts. Solar power is quite popular here, but I was at a loss as to what I knew about installing a solar power system, let alone one that would fully meet my own needs.
Enter today and I’m living off the fantastic 24V 100Ah battery from Redodo(aka Zooms), powered by 2x450W solar panels. A 3kW inverter/charger powers the 220V devices in the house while keeping the battery topped up. An affordable, yet reliable system that was simple enough to install on my own without any prior experience. And covers my, albeit frugal, electricity needs in full.
1. Deciding on the appropriate solution
So how did I figure all that out and more specifically, how did I decided on the Redodo (aka Zooms) battery as the cornerstone of my solar system among the vast array of alternatives?
At first, being intimidated by the thought of installing a solar system on my own I naturally leaned towards the fully integrated systems that are erroneously called “solar generators”; they don’t generate any power, just store it and output it in convenient forms. But those have some downsides. For one, I truly dislike the connecting devices directly, creating a cable mess inside the house. They are also really expensive for the amount of storage and output they provide. Not to mention having to replace the entire unit if a single component fails.
For my house I wanted something that could be more efficient, easier to scale up later, easier to repair while still being easy to assemble. After doing my due diligence I decided that I needed:
- A good quality long-lasting Lifepo4 battery with roughly 2.5kWh capacity,
- An all-in-one inverter/MPPT solar charger to keep things tidy,
- Two solar panels that can fully charge the battery in a winter sunny day.
- Appropriate cables and tools.
2. Why Redodo(aka Zooms)?
Coming back to batteries I wouldn’t recommend anything less than Lifepo4 for a house installation. They are safer, more reliable and longer lasting than anything else out there. Their extended lifetime more than makes up for the additional cost; they are actually cheaper in the long run!
But one has to be careful. I was tempted by the very cheapest of the offerings out there but it quickly became obvious that I can’t rely my home power on such shady products. On the other hand there were a few very expensive brands which definitely seemed trustworthy but I felt I was getting very little for my money.
Then I found Redodo(aka Zooms). They had a consistent presence, sensible copy and their offerings looked legit. The reviews were good and the price just right. Of course I had several questions which had to be answered before my decision. Redodo (Zooms)’ customer service didn’t have trouble providing elaborate answers to my rather nerdy, technical questions. Not the typical canned responses you get from an average customer service.
That was all good stuff but I made my decision as soon as I watched Will Prowse on Youtube tearing down one of these batteries and stress-testing it. Then I knew I could rely on this battery to reliably store my solar power.
3. The installation
Fast forward a few days after ordering all the necessary components I sat down an evening to set everything up. Wasn’t as hard I was afraid it would be. I even made it without a proper crimping tool (don’t recommend that route though, make your life easier).
Here are some photos of the setup. It’s not polished yet but it is fully functional. My end goal is to enclose everything in a custom made ventilated closet with a nice switch panel to control power distribution. This will be a nice future project.
The solar cables transfer power generated by the panels outside to the MPPT charger which in turn charges the battery through the thicker set of cables. Through those, the inverter pulls the necessary power which then gets distributed to the electrical panel of the house.
4. What it can run?
The battery has enough capacity to cover my needs for 2-3 days. Could be even more but I haven’t tested to the limits yet. No this is not an exaggeration. Yes my needs are frugal but the capacity is really large for someone living alone. At this very time that I am writing this post it’s 3:40am and the measured voltage indicates a state of charge over 90%. The battery was fully charged during the day and it has been running the inverter with all lights powered on in the house since early evening. Also charged my devices a bit. And there’s a small fridge which runs 24/7 of course!
Of course I didn’t buy a 2.5kWh battery just for that. First thing I enjoyed as soon as I installed the system was a nice fresh sandwich that I made in my 800W toaster while simultaneously making coffee in my 1200W coffee machine. The feeling of doing that with my own freely generated power can’t be put into words. With an advertised battery life cycle of 3-4k cycles, typical of decent Lifepo4 cells, I should be able to do that for the next ten years. What more can I ask?
Now, the elephant in the room is the more power hungry devices. Truth be told, solar is not very efficient for heat generation but that’s not what I installed it for because I didn’t rely on electricity anyway for heating and cooking. That said, after seeing my system in action I might buy an electric burner for cooking to save up on gas. I mean, it’s free energy from the sun that goes wasted otherwise so why not use it?!
Overall, I’m delighted with the performance of the system I assembled and the Redodo(Zooms) 24V 100Ah battery has been a cornerstone in it with its stable and reliable performance so far. I’m 100% off grid and I have to pay exactly zero electricity bills. Let alone that I’m immune to black outs which, because of the energy crisis, are quite often lately and even scheduled. I’ve taken responsibility of my electricity needs and I’m now living on my own terms without relying on unreliable third parties.