Small clinics in the most extreme areas often have to do without a utility grid. They often rely on generators instead. But getting the fuel to these locations is a complex, costly affair and it might require a near full-time maintenance job to keep the generators going. Luckily with solar power, a green and more reliable hybrid solution is offered. This makes relying totally on generator power a thing of the past, reducing fuel bills and upgrading power security at the same time.
Reliable equipment and proper installation are obviously important, but just as important is to minimise the system's maintenance, since it is expensive to fly engineers to the location. With Victron Remote Monitoring end-users and installers always stay in the know, so they can prevent issues or definitive system failure. As some remote areas can get up to 70 lightning strikes/km²/year, sufficient surge protection is key along with the ability to move fast when things go wrong. This is why our large, worldwide repair network covers even the most remote areas with a fast service.
The daily energy consumption is calculated by adding up the sum of all day time consumers and night time consumers. Add all the Watts of the simultaneously used consumers to calculate the required peak power. See other essential considerations below.
A walk-through of Design Considerations
for an off-grid system for a small clinic.
There are many reasons why to choose for either technology. But let’s have a quick glance at the cost-effectiveness and the practical differences.
When choosing an off-grid battery bank there is primarily the choice in technology: lithium or lead-acid. For off-grid applications, Lithium has quickly become the new standard in larger (residential and commercial) systems because of performance reasons, but also due to their lower cost-per-cycle. For smaller systems the lower cost-per-cycle situation is also true, however the higher upfront investment led many to consider Lead-acid batteries. Due to a continuous downwards price pressure, the tipping point towards Lithium for small off-grid systems is closer than ever and in some regions already there.
Victron Energy offers full flexibility when it comes to selecting an off-grid battery bank of choice. Next to our own range of quality batteries, the choice includes a number of well supported third party Lithium battery manufacturers that can be easily integrated through the use of a GX-device. This flexibility enables our customers to perfectly match their off-grid needs for their unique power situation.
Check the manufacturer's data sheets for the expected cycle life and see what works in your (business) case. Each manufacturer comes from a different background and each may have it’s pros and cons for your local situation (availability, support, performance in hot/cold climates, installability, pricing, etc). Therefore, feel free to reach out to a nearby Victron Authorised installer and ask for their local know-how.
Freedom Won Lite 10/8 Lithium battery module: This third party Lithium battery bank can provide ±8kWh of usable energy, enough to power the night-time loads and is ready to assist with peak-demands or support the solar array on cloudy days. In this example, it requires 3kWh of energy to power all loads 24/7. To ensure the system never runs out of battery power, it’s now scaled to last ±2,5 days without any solar input, requiring a minimum of 7,5kWh of usable energy. According to spec, this 10kWh battery can provide an average daily discharge up to 80% (8kWh). Due to it’s fast charging capabilities the bank can be fully charged in ±3 sunny hours by the solar array.
Every off-grid system is different and each location may provide unique challenges. Many variables need to be considered such as the day and night time loads, losses, the efficiency of the panels and their geographic location with respect to solar irradiance (the amount of sunlight that will fall on a given spot), the inclination and orientation of the solar panels, shading and dirt or snow causing losses in the array itself. Other factors such as local costs of solar panels, battery banks and solar array cleaning also come into play. This is why every system is different and designing an off-grid system is a local expert's job. However, to get an idea, see the below and explore our basic solar and off-grid calculators.
Knowing the daily energy consumption, the goal size of the solar array can be calculated. At a bare minimum, the daily energy consumption should be able to be harvested and losses need to be compensated. Also safety margins determined by case-specific influences are relevant. While there are many considerations and methods to calculate with, this one below aims to start to give you an idea.
Many customers may already have a backup generator in place, on which they now fully rely on during black-outs. With a solar based system you can now become a whole lot less reliant on these noisy, fuel slurping, maintenance heavy polluters, or even eliminate them in some cases.
GX-devices are the communication centre of an installation, giving you perfect control over all systems components and maximise their performance, no matter where you are. They are also essential to integrate a third party Lithium battery bank.
Through our free VictronConnect app and the Victron Energy Remote Monitoring portal or laptop, you can check the system from local and remote. Monitor the battery state of charge, power consumption, power harvest from PV, generator and mains, or check generator tank levels and temperature measurements. Catch potential issues early by programming alerts and alarms in order to prevent definitive system failure.
To add remote connectivity, the GX device can join an existing WIFI connection. Otherwise, a GX LTE 4G can provide a mobile internet connection for the system and connection to the VRM Portal. It works on 2G, 3G and 4G networks. Smaller systems without GX can do with the GlobalLink 520. It connects 2 VE.Direct enabled devices to VRM without any monthly fees or subscriptions, for the first five years.
How do the system design considerations translate into a robust system?
Every ‘household’ appliance or ‘heavy duty tool’ you would expect at home or at work can also be found in independent energy systems. All these devices need an Alternating Current (230V or 110V) to run.
Some of these devices such as computers can be sensitive to the quality of the inverted power (bad shore- or generator AC-input power can influence this quality negatively). Motor driven or heat generating equipment may require a high start-up current. All our inverters produce a pure sine wave, even when the AC input quality is less good, ensuring that sensitive loads can be powered and enjoy a peak-power of generally 2x of the inverters rated capacity to power even the heaviest of loads, or basically any load, problem free.
A recommendation would be to work with appliances that have an A+ energy rating or ideally higher (A+++) to minimise the use of electrical energy, especially for the larger consumers (Fridge, inverter air conditioners and choose LED lights).
Examples of AC-devices:
The Victron Energy Cerbo GX is the communication-centre of your systems installation, allowing you to always have perfect control from wherever you are and maximises its performance. The optional GX Touch 50 is a companion to the Cerbo GX, it’s five inch touch screen display gives an instant overview of your system and allows you to adjust settings in the blink of an eye.
Instantly monitor the battery state of charge, power consumption, power harvest from PV, generator, and mains, or check tank levels and temperature measurements. Easily control the shore power input current limit, (auto)start/stop generator(s) or even set quiet periods to avoid starting the generator in the middle of the night. Change any setting to optimise the system, follow up on alerts, perform diagnostic checks and resolve challenges remotely with the free Victron Remote Management (VRM) portal.
The Cerbo GX is an easy to use visual system and turns any power challenge into an effortless experience. Simply connect through our Victron Remote Management (VRM) portal, or access directly, using the optional GX Touch 50 screen, a Multi Functional Display or our VictronConnect app thanks to its added Bluetooth capability.
To successfully integrate a third-party battery bank, a GX-device such as the Cerbo GX is mandatory to manage charge and discharge limits, to exchange error codes and state of charge information with the wider Victron system.See our GX-devices
Battery chargers recharge batteries (DC) when plugged into shore power (AC).
At the same time the Victron Energy battery chargers can also power devices directly.
All Victron Energy battery chargers are developed for professional duty. Our advanced multi step charging algorithms get the best out of your battery, giving the battery the power it needs, maintaining its health, ensuring better performance... and a longer life.
Smart models work with VictronConnect, so you can check the status and configure all settings of your battery charger remotely via Bluetooth. Chargers with different waterproof ratings (IP rating) are also available. Our wide range of models makes it easy to select the right charger, saving you the cost of having to buy a larger one.See all our chargers
Generators produce mostly AC current to offer independent electrical power where needed. They help charge the batteries and power the (peak)loads in case of grid or shore power shortings or failure.
In all cases, Victron Energy solutions can help you reduce the reliance on these noisy, fuel consuming and maintenance heavy generators, providing an eco-friendly and cost-saving alternative.
Some smaller systems can now just run on batteries, other systems can do with smaller generators, or less generator time. For larger systems, generators may be an unmissable component in the setup, but the dependence on them can be reduced, for instance by adding solar power or battery backup power, only using the generator when the state of charge is too low, or the (peak) power demand too high.
Victron Energy systems are recognised in the market for their great ability to master hybrid generator concepts, which comes with several advantages:
A GX 4G module will add mobile internet connectivity to your Victron Energy system. When your system is in range of a 4G network, it will send data to the VRM website and you can monitor the system from your smartphone. The module adds GPS tracking, recording your trips and putting up a geo-fence around the installation. You will get an alert via mail when the system travels outside the geo-fence area.
Victron Energy offers multiple 4G modules and the Global Link 520 modem, which operates without any monthly fees or subscriptions, for the first five years and several 4G modules. See our 4G Modems See our Global Link 520
Inverter/charger/MPPT convert DC power from the batteries to AC power, safely powering appliances or heavy duty tools with 230V (or 110V in other markets) and take power from the solar array to charge the battery and/or power loads directly. Their built in charger uses grid, shore or generator power, using the best adaptive charge algorithms for your batteries of any kind.
All Victron Energy inverter/charger/MPPT are developed for professional duty, enjoy a reputation of extreme resilience and are built on decades of field experience in the most demanding conditions. Our extremely resilient inverter/charger/MPPT are the best choice when both inverting and charging from AC inputs (such as shore or grid power, generators or AC-PV inverters) are required and grid usage is to be minimised by adding solar power.See our inverter/chargers/MPPT's
The service battery, also called a house battery or battery bank, stores power for the system's consumers, providing autonomous power especially for moments when input power sources aren’t (fully) available.
Victron Energy offers several battery technologies, all designed for professional performance, reliability and long service life in the most demanding environments. They come with a 2 year worldwide warranty and our datasheets offer a fair picture of the performance and expected life cycles, meaning no investment surprises along the way.
Victron Energy also offers full flexibility when it comes to selecting an off-grid battery bank of choice. A large number of well supported third party Lithium battery manufacturers can be easily integrated through the use of a mandatory GX-device. This flexibility enables our customers to perfectly match their off-grid needs for their unique power situation. When working with unsupported brands, a Victron Energy Battery Monitor is required to pass on accurate state of charge readings to the wider system.
While there are multiple technologies to choose between, the main choice is between lead-acid and lithium which mainly depends on the expectations of the performance, cost-per-cycle and physical aspects (size/weight).
The above probably cuts 45 years of battery development expertise a bit short, for more info check our deep dive.Deep dive: Lithium or lead-acid Check which third-party battery banks are supported See our wide range of batteries
A solar charger gathers energy from your solar panels, and stores it in your batteries. Using the latest, fastest technology, our solar chargers maximise this energy-harvest, driving it intelligently to achieve full charge in the shortest possible time whilst maintaining the batteries health, ensuring better performance… and a longer life.
In most cases, the light intensity of the solar panels is changing constantly, which affects their performance. Victron Energy solar controllers use ultra fast maximum power point tracking to squeeze up to 30% more power out of your panels.
Smaller models have an intelligent load-output, preventing damage caused by running batteries 'flat'. Smart models allow the solar harvest to be tracked and analysed through the free VictronConnect app, other connectivity options allow a remote connection through our VRM portal. For larger systems, solar chargers can be synchronized, so they act as one large and very efficient charger. For systems with large series connected PV arrays charging 48 V DC battery banks, high voltage models are available.See our Solar Calculator to size the solar panels and select a MPPT charger
Solar panels catch the energy from sunlight and forward it to a solar charge controller which stores that energy in the systems battery bank. Adding solar panels to your system means free energy, independence from the grid and allows you to downsize or eliminate the need for noisy, fuel consuming and maintenance heavy generators.
Victron Energy offers a wide range of highly efficient solar panels that have exceptional low-light performance and high sensitivity to light across the entire solar spectrum, making it the perfect choice for any system. Victron Energy solar panels meet the most stringent safety requirements and their limited warranty means no surprises along the way.See all our solar panels
All Victron Energy smart products can be monitored and controlled from the palm of your hand. Just connect the VictronConnect App via Bluetooth and you’ll have direct access to the performance data of your system. You can also easily change settings, turn devices on or off and much more.
Non-smart devices with a VE.Direct port can also become smart, through the use of the VE.Direct Bluetooth Smart dongle
It is also possible to monitor and control your system remotely. VictronConnect-Remote functionality enables Victron products with a VE.Direct interface to be accessed remotely through a GX product, via the VRM online portal. This powerful feature allows full product configuration and monitoring from practically anywhere in the world using the VictronConnect app. The user interface experience is just like the products were connected locally using Bluetooth or a wired VE.Direct to USB interface.See what the VictronConnect app can do See our GX-devices
Monitor and manage your Victron Energy systems from anywhere and catch potential issues early by setting alerts and alarms. With VRM you are always in perfect control from wherever you are.
VRM works with a GX-device such as the Cerbo GX with internet connection, the GlobalLink 520 or GSM LTE 4-g for smaller systems.
Monitor the battery state of charge, power consumption, power harvest from solar, generator and mains in real-time. Optimise the energy harvest and usage with history graphs and detailed analytical reports. Catch potential issues early by setting alerts and follow up on alarms to prevent definitive system failure.
Easily control the shore power input current limit, switch on the inverter, (auto)start/stop generators or even set quiet periods to avoid starting the generator in the middle of the night. With VRM you can change any setting, follow up on alarms, perform diagnostic checks and resolve challenges from wherever you are.See all our GX-devices
The Inverter RS Smart Solar’s are designed for pure solar off-grid applications, combining an inverter and Solar MPPT charge controller in one enclosure. Thanks to its 450VDC internal voltage and high frequency technology, solar power can be inverted to directly power the loads with an incredible efficiency and charge the battery bank at the same time. The Pure Sine Wave inverter technology safely powers sensitive electronics such as computers and any load problem free. Its standard display reads battery, inverter and solar charge controller parameters, its smart function allows it to be set up and monitored with our free VictronConnect app.
All Victron Energy Inverter RS Smart Solars developed for professional duty, enjoy a reputation of extreme resilience and are built on decades of field experience in the most demanding conditions. Our extremely resilient Inverter/MPPT’s are the best choice when 48V battery banks need to be charged from a large solar array.See our Inverter RS Smart Solars
Our modular, robust and connected off-grid systems have been proven to deliver unequalled reliability time and time again, even in the harshest of climates. But it’s our unique combination of up-to-date hard- and software, intelligent monitoring Apps, the network of highly trained Authorised professionals and widespread repair centres that turns a Victron Energy system into an unbeatable system, that is Powered by know-how.
When making power supply investment decisions, calculations purely based on price can be deceptive. Their true performance and expected service life cycle are equally important. Good thing Victron Energy equipment lives up to their specifications, both in terms of performance and expected life cycle (when used as designed). Our 5 or 10 year warranty and fair and fast repair policies mean your investments are protected and under most circumstances, won’t let you down.
With battery based power systems, efficiency is always key to providing great levels of cost-effectiveness. From our incredibly efficient SmartSolar Charge Controllers to the way our inverter/chargers can provide a super efficient Energy Storage or off-grid system, or how complete systems are optimised by our GX devices: with a Blue Power system you can be sure that all the details are thought through and that our products live up to their (efficient) specifications. This, combined with our reputation for extreme resilience and expected life cycles, translates into cost-effective solutions, especially when compared to ‘cheaper’ options.
By replacing generators with solar energy as the primary source of power, power security is increased, maintenance reduced and overall energy costs lowered to a tipping point where independent energy systems enable a whole new generation of business models. By providing sustainable power at scale new business opportunities are within easy reach, even at remote locations where there is no grid present at all. Fish farms or entire factories and resorts can be started or converted, wherever it is needed. The positive social and economic advantages are substantial and far-reaching and with Victron Energy you can power it all.
Our global network of ±1000 highly trained distributors, installers and service partners are always on hand to help. From stock advice, installation recommendations, after-care and technical support. With the Victron Energy team, their partners and lively community you can always be sure the power of know-how is by your side.
Thanks to our customer feedback loop, data and knowledge sharing, we innovate 24/7. We are powered by know-how, it keeps us going and our users going - ensuring peace of mind in off-grid for years to come.Check our community See how we achieve peace of mind in off-grid
Do you have a question about a product, or do you wish to have a system installed on-site? Your local Victron dealer is trained to translate your exact needs into robust solutions.
Thanks to the help of a carefully selected and well trained global network of authorised dealers, our customers can count on a swift service and our large, worldwide repair network that covers even the most remote areas with a fast service.