Home Energy Solar panels, battery storage facilitates ‘off-grid’ lifestyle in rural Victoria

Solar panels, battery storage facilitates ‘off-grid’ lifestyle in rural Victoria

A Victorian couple claims it is now powering its rural cottage entirely off-grid, using renewable energy after upgrading its solar panels and storage battery from battery company Redflow.

Sound engineer Adrian Shand and his partner, who live at Glenlyon in central Victoria, say they have upgraded both the solar panels on their cottage and the ZCell battery to make the property “truly grid-independent” without heavy use of a diesel back-up generator.  

According to Shand, Redflow’s 10 kilowatt-hour (kWh) zinc-bromine flow batteries, are fully charged by the solar panels in just four hours on a sunny day.

Shand says said the energy storage system cost $56,000 – about a quarter of the $200,000 cost of connecting mains power to the property.

“It means we never receive another power bill. We didn’t want to ‘calorie count’ our energy usage, so Redflow gives us the confidence to turn on appliances at night. We’re not afraid to do loads of washing after the sun has gone down because we’re not draining the battery wildly.

“We chose ZCell batteries because of their superior energy storage technology. It is 100% based on the chemistry, which is far and away better than anything else. Our main criteria were stability and getting the most bang for buck, the most power that we could get for the least money. It wasn't necessarily a per kWh cost, it was more the performance and longevity of the battery. We live off-grid, so we need every drop of power we can generate with no degradation over the years.”

The upgrades means Shand’s cottage generates 5.2 kilowatts peak (kWp) of energy from 21 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of a nearby shed and, with 20 kWh total storage capacity, the ZCells replaced a 1.5 kWh lead-acid battery, which had required a backup diesel generator to supplement it every couple of days during winter.

According to Shand, the upgrade in storage capacity has had a dramatic impact. “Now, we only use the back-up generator occasionally, if there are a bunch of cloudy days in a row. Also, the ZCell batteries and Victron battery inverter are easy to operate. Redflow and Off-Grid Energy are great at supporting us. They keep improving ZCell which is now brilliant.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).