Africa is home to the most spectacular wild parks and nature reserves in the world, home to the wildest animals nature has to offer. Of course tourists want to be as close as possible to the action and enjoy incredible 360 degree views from extremely remote lodges in the heart of the reserve. The whole experience feels better, knowing that the entire lodge is powered by renewable energy, generating its own electricity and clean water, without compromising the needs or comfort of the guests.
Still, many of these resorts primarily rely on fuel consuming and noisy generators. Luckily the business case for renewable solar energy at scale is convincing, with additional advantages such as increased power security, a significant reduction of maintenance, fuel costs and carbon emissions as a result. Decades of feedback from our customers living in the hottest of climates has led to up-to-date technology that is designed to perform and built to last in the harshest environments.
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.
In existing installations, ask your installer to install an energy logger to make a blueprint of your real-life energy behaviour, to exactly know what to plan for.
A walk-through of Design Considerations
for an off-grid system for a Luxury Eco-resort.
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.
Lithium: 150kWh - 5x4 MG HE Series Lithium battery modules: Considering that the recommended Depth of Discharge will sit somewhere between 10 and 20% (depending on manufacturer specs), a total of ±135kWh of battery modules can be used to power this resort. In this example, the day-time energy consumption is 350kWh, the night-time consumers total 75kWh. Since the day-time consumers are primarily powered through the AC-PV solar array, 140kWh of battery capacity is just enough to assist on cloudy moments and take the installation through the night. In case of critical battery values or maintenance the backup generator will seamlessly kick in.
Lithium was chosen because of its performance in high temperatures up to 45 degrees, optimal scalability, fast charging abilities and because of its ‘maintenance free’ factor which is welcomed especially at this remote location. In this case, the installation of the battery bank was performed in parallel redundant mode, which means the installation can keep running, if one string of batteries fail.
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. Logically, at a bare minimum, the daily energy consumption should be able to be harvested, stand-alone time included and losses 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.
Daily energy consumption * (1 + system losses) / average year round solar peak hours * case specific influences = Off-grid solar array size.
5x SmartSolar MPPT RS 450/200-Tr and 4x Fronius 27kW Eco: In this case, hybrid combination of AC and DC coupled solar arrays were added, because of this system's large day-time consumption together with its significant night-time power requirement. Power from a 55kWp DC-coupled solar array generating ±275kWh per day is harvested by five SmartSolar MPPT RS 450/200-Tr models. Victron’s largest solar charge controllers are designed to fast charge large battery banks with a maximum efficiency of 96% and enjoy a large charge capacity of 11,8kW per charger.
The overall capacity is boosted by a 105,6kWp AC-coupled solar array, harvested by 4x Fronius 27kW Eco AC-solar inverters, which directly invert the solar yield to power the daily loads in real-time and help reduce the unnecessary usage of the battery bank, and thus prolonging battery life. When the solar yield drops, the Quattro seamlessly supplements the AC-inverter with energy from the DC-solar array and/or battery bank. Excess solar from the AC-array is used to charge the battery bank through the AC input ports using the nine Quattro chargers.
There is a choice to make when it comes to the different technologies of converting solar energy into consumable power: DC-or AC coupled solar power, or- in a hybrid model- both.
The choice between technologies depends on many factors, a main one is when power consumption peaks are expected: during the day or at night (or both). In a good off-grid practice with larger systems requiring significant energy during both the day and night, a hybrid combination of both AC-PV and DC-PV is often used, using each of their advantages. Victron Energy is renowned for the integration capabilities of third party PV-inverter brands such as Fronius.
The minimum total yield of a DC-PV only array needs to equal the total daily consumption (24h) and its losses, calculating with the average of available sun hours.
DC-PV based solar chargers are way more efficient for charging battery banks, compared to AC-PV.
During daytime the batteries are efficiently recharged for the night consumers and at the same time daytime consumers are mostly powered with energy from the solar array, through the solar charger and the inverter/charger. When the solar yield is reduced, energy from the battery bank is taken to power the loads.
For small to medium size systems DC-PV is the go-to standard. They can also power larger off-grid systems, as long as the solar panels and solar charge controllers can be placed in close proximity of the battery bank and the inverters: DC requires thicker cabling and is limited in length due to energy losses. This is not always practical, especially when roof-space is limited.
In large systems with significant day-time consumers in a system, a Hybrid setup is a good and durable off-grid practice.
A combination of AC- and DC-PV is used when there are large daytime consumers and a selection of the loads need to be powered through the night.
AC-PV takes care of the day-time load and uses its excess power to charge the batteries, DC-PV is used for efficient battery charging, its excess power can be used to power the loads. At any time if the load exceeds the power available from the AC-PV inverters, the Quattro inverters provide the difference from battery storage or even the generator can be automatically started.
For off-grid systems with AC-solar inverters we always recommend to include a DC-array for efficient battery charging, but also to bring the system backup automatically in case the battery bank is completely empty. AC inverters cannot start themselves when there isn’t a grid present. A DC array can charge the batteries, which will reactivate the Victron inverters to create the grid. With a grid present, the AC-PV inverter will also come back online automatically.
The AC-solar array is sized to power the total of concurrent day-time loads directly such as air conditioning, laundry- and kitchen equipment. The AC-PV inverter is sized to accommodate the average loads. The DC-array is sized to efficiently charge the battery bank which powers the night-time consumers.
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:
Battery management systems take excellent care of Lithium batteries, protecting the individual cells of LiFePO4 batteries against over voltage, under voltage and over temperature and will shut down or reduce charging (VE.Bus products only) or disconnect the loads when this occurs.
Victron Energy offers several BMS options, in general the VE.Bus BMS and smallBMS signal separate devices to disconnect the charging (Inverter/Chargers, Cyrix-Li, DC-DC chargers) or disconnect the loads (BatteryProtect, Inverter/Charger), the modular Lynx distribution system features the Lynx BMS and other modules for more control over the DC busbar. For vehicles and boats all-in-one functionalities are available in the (Smart) BMS versions.
Victron Energy also offers full flexibility when it comes to selecting a third-party off-grid battery bank (and their BMS) of choice. A large number of well supported 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.See all our Battery Management Systems
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
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/chargers convert DC power from the batteries to AC power, safely powering appliances or heavy duty tools with 230V (or 110V in other markets). 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/chargers 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/chargers 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. Their connectivity options and depth of configuration settings allow the most sophisticated of challenges to be mastered.
Victron Energy inverter/chargers come with a handful of outstanding features:
Our wide range of models makes it easy to efficiently match the right inverter/charger to the requirements. Compact models are available when space restrictions apply. Larger models can power industrial appliances and virtually unlimited power can be provided by Parallel or 3-phase operation. See all our inverter/chargers
Inverters convert DC power from the batteries to AC power, safely powering any kind of appliance or heavy duty tools with 230V (or 110V in other markets).
All Victron Energy inverters are developed for professional duty and enjoy a reputation of extreme resilience, even in the most demanding conditions. The built-in Pure Sine Wave technology safely powers sensitive electronics such as computers, their high peak power rating allows high start-up currents from heavy duty tools, so you can power any load, problem free. Their high efficiency and ultra low self consumption ensure the stored energy can be used to efficiently power the consumers, instead of having to calculate with wide margins to compensate for energy losses.
Larger models can power industrial appliances and virtually unlimited power can be provided by Parallel or 3-phase operation. Other models come with built-in chargers (Inverter/chargers) which can be used when charging from shore- or generator AC sources is essential. Whatever you need, our wide range makes it easy to select the right inverter for your application, saving you the cost of having to buy a larger one.See all our inverters See all our inverter/chargers
AC solar inverters invert energy from Solar arrays directly to a usable AC output. Usually they have a pretty high efficiency from panel directly to their AC output, which makes them more efficient to directly power heavy daytime-only consumers such as air conditioning or heavy kitchen/ office appliances and thus helps to increase the sustained and total kW power that the system can supply.
For off-grid systems with AC-solar inverters we always recommend to include a DC solar array for more efficient battery charging, but also to bring the system backup automatically in case the battery bank is completely empty. AC inverters cannot start themselves when there isn’t a grid present. In a rare case of a depleted battery bank, a DC array can charge the batteries, which will reactivate the Victron inverters to create the grid. With a grid present, the AC-PV inverter will also come back online automatically.
Therefore a combination of AC- and DC-PV is used when there are large daytime consumers and a selection of the loads need to be powered through the night. When the solar yield drops, the inverter/charger seamlessly supplements the AC-inverter with energy from the DC-solar array and/or battery bank. Excess solar from the AC-array is used to charge the battery bank through the AC input ports using the Victron inverter/chargers.
Great efforts are made to ensure a deep and problem free integration with a long list of third party managed AC-PV manufacturers. AC-PV inverters are supported directly after installing a software assistant on our inverters.
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
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.