Off-Grid ZCell Installation

Alan Noble with his ZCell batteries

A residential energy system at an off-grid property in SA is the first completed customer deployment of ZCell batteries.

Previously mains power was available in only one corner of the hilly 100-hectare Willunga property, which is owned by Alan Noble, Engineering Director for Google Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Noble said extending mains power further across the hilly terrain would be substantially more expensive and less flexible than an off-grid solution. For less than 20% of the cost, two ZCell batteries can now store a combined energy capacity of 20 kilowatt hours (kWh), powered by solar panels on the roof of a large implement shed.

The batteries, which were integrated with 12 Australian-made Tindo Solar panels and two Victron battery inverters by ZCell installer Off-Grid Energy Australia, continued working uninterrupted during the storm-caused power failure that blacked out the rest of South Australia.

Mr. Noble said he had installed the ZCells to provide him with flexibility, safety and affordability. “We wanted the flexibility to build anywhere on the site without having overhead power lines,” he said.

“Secondly, we have power when we need it. If there is a bushfire here, we can power our pumps properly whereas electricity distributor SA Power Networks has a policy of actually shedding power during high bushfire risk days, so precisely when you need the power, they shut it down. Without the ZCells, we’d be running around trying to fire up generators during hot days, which is not practical.

“Also, we want to make this property as automated as possible. I want it so we can move water automatically, based on the power to turn on pumps, to turn on sprinklers and turn on any fire defences. We can only do that if we have our own on-site power.

“Last, but not least, I really like the idea of being self-sufficient. The way I see it, grid power is getting more and more expensive, so this is an investment that in the long term is going to be worth it.”

Mr. Noble said he had chosen Redflow’s ZCell zinc-bromine flow batteries rather than lithium-based alternatives for two reasons. “Firstly, they can cope with a high heat environment, which is not true of a lot of batteries,” he said.

“The other benefit is that you can have them just sitting there. Longer term, that’s less of an issue, but over the next couple of years while we’re not living here full-time, it’s nice to know that I’m not going to destroy the batteries if they’re fully discharged.

Redflow Case Study

Huntlee Off-Grid Development

off-grid housing

“If it can be done for a house, why can’t it be done for a town?” was the solar powered thought running through the mind of Off-Grid Energy Australia’s NSW manager, Damien Griffith as a standalone power system was installed on his Hunter Valley farm in 2009.

Huntlee is a 7500 home development, with a planned large town centre and a number of neighbourhood village centres, servicing an eventual population of 25,000 people. It is a development that closely considers the creation of a new social fabric as the new community is born.

The beginnings of the “autonomous town” project began in earnest in early 2012 after LWP property NSW General Manager Ian Wilks, agreed to incubate and fund the challenging journey Mr Griffith was proposing to decentralise utilities and take the town off grid. This journey saw the creation of the Huntlee Energy and Technology Alliance (HETA) where a number of experts in their respective fields met regularly to collaborate on the vision of decentralised utility provision, with a major focus on energy.

HETA Members:
LWP Property Group (Developer), Worley Parsons (Project Manager), Lume Energy (Project Concept & HETA Chair), Off-Grid Energy (Solar PV & Storage), Simons Green Energy (Co-gen & Thermal), Flow Systems (Water), Opticomm (Communications), Jemena (Gas), Frank Klostermann (Waste to Energy).

System Design: 

Off-Grid Energy, together with co-gen and thermal network experts Simon’s Green Energy found that the levelised cost of energy per lot is substantially lower for the microgrid than if the development were to connect to the national grid.

The initial design found the optimal balance between sufficient baseload power, and maximum renewable content.

Load control at individual premises and demand side management functionality will be included in Huntlee house design. Electric vehicle (EV) charging at the premise has included in the utility design, and the potential for time-of-use EV charging incentives has been identified.

Project Development:

$442,000 in ARENA funding will allow global asset manager, Brookfield Energy, to complete a $1.1 million dollar further study into reglatory requirements for microgrid implementation in Australia.

Microgrid System on Luxury Farm Estate

containerised batteries


The system was required to provide the equivalent reliability, capacity (kW), and energy (kWh) availability of the grid, whilst maintaining an economic advantage.

The buildings on the property which required power included horse stables, heated swimming pool, bore pump, workshop, 2x guesthouses, painters studio, and of course the main residence.

Site Considerations:

No consistent view of the solar array or equipment building, hear no noise from the backup generator at the main living areas of the property, and not disturb the resident wombats.

System Design: 

The system design provides an average yearly solar contribution of 117%, peak delivery capacity of 300A per phase, with a 250kVA super silenced generator backup. AC coupled configuration allows the inverter/charger, solar inverters and generator to ‘layer’ and provide high peak power capacity.

  • 264 x Trina 260W Modules (68kW)
  • Ground mounted frames at 30° pitch
  • 3 x SMA STP20000TL Solar Inverters
  • 18 x SMA SI8.0 Inv/Ch (144kW)
  • 144 x BAE PVV1800 VRLA Batteries
  • 250kVA FG Wilson diesel generator
  • SMA Multicluster 36 Box switchboard
  • SMA Webbox Monitoring system

Project Outcome:

Off site assembly of the containerised equipment housing allowed for cost reduction, quality control, and passive cooling techniques to be included. Significant ground-works removed system visibility from the main residence. Generator sound attenuation achieved 65dba at 7m distance, and efforts were made to ensure a high-quality aesthetic.

“Communication was excellent, the team was professional and had a great attention-to-detail. They made sure every step of the process was delivered on time, and without compromise.”

Smart Battery with Tesla Model-S Charging

advertiser battery storage article


The client wanted to achieve a high level of solar self consumption and grid independence over the entire year. There was a requirement for intelligent control of specified loads in relation to weather forecasts, solar production, and battery storage levels.

Blackout protection in the event of grid failure, along with remote system access, monitoring, and control of system was also required.

Site Considerations:

It was important to produce a clean aesthetic because of the system’s high visibility. Space efficiency measures were needed to allow system installation next to the electric vehicle (EV) charger.

System Design: 

Intelligent load management allows large appliances to be automatically switched on when batteries are full during high solar generation. This ensures the clients Tesla EV charging is only activated when it will not draw from the batteries or the grid. This function can also be activated manually via smart phone or online.

  • 10kW ground mounted solar array
  • SMA Sunny Tripower 10000TL
  • 3-Phase SMA Sunny Island 8.0’s
  • 26kWh BMZ Li-ion battery storage
  • SMA Home Manager monitoring
  • Existing 15kW solar array

Project Outcome:

The client was extremely happy with the intelligent load management, blackout protection for energy security, and the system design optimising solar production for his house loads and Tesla Model-S EV charging.

The system was neatly installed in the preferred location, and the generation from the new solar array is exceeding that of the larger existing array.

“I am impressed with the symmetry and seamless control of loads not directly connected to the inverter/charger units [EV charging & hot water], and the way the battery capacity augments between all loads and 3 phases.” – Keith, Adelaide Hills SA

PDF Case Study

Off The Grid With An EV

Solar array installation


Customer had a sizeable cost to connect to the grid, and also wanted a renewable source of power for his home. He also wanted his off grid system to be set up to accommodate his new EV so it would be charged via solar.

Site Considerations:

Shed available for solar and system install; EV charging managed directly from solar

System Design: 

  • OEA Complete 65-48 System
  • OEA Adapt mount – installs in customers shed
  • 40kWh sealed gel battery storage
  • 10.5kW Polycrystalline solar array on shed
  • SMA Webbox monitoring & communication system

Grid Home With Energy Independence

Energy Independence


Customer has a large house with large loads and wanted their property to have the latest technology, a level of energy backup and reduced energy costs.

Load Analysis:

20-24kWh average daily winter/summer demand; large potential peak loads

Site Considerations:

3-phase grid power; ground mount solar array frames required

System Design:

  • OEA Grid Autonomy 180-48 (Smart Home) System – 18kW 3-phase output
  • OEA Adapt mount – installs in customers shed
  • 32kWh sealed gel battery storage
  • 9.2kW Polycrystalline solar array on ground mounts
  • SMA Home Manager energy management system and monitoring


Suburban Blackout Proofing and Energy Security

Solar panels


Needed partial backup power for the home for specialist medical equipment, as well as the added benefit of reducing energy costs

Load Analysis:

14.6-14.8kWh average daily winter/summer demand; small 3.4kW design surge

Site Considerations:

Limited northern and eastern roof areas available for PV; Backup system in garage

System Design:

  • OEA Grid Autonomy 60-48 (Import Only) System – 6kW 1-phase output
  • OEA Adapt mount + storage cabinet – installs in customers garage
  • 15kWh backup battery storage
  • 5kW Polycrystalline solar array split between north & east roof

Off-Grid Lithium-ion System Upgrade

Lithium-ion System Upgrade


Customers existing standalone power system was insufficient for their needs and was failing. Required larger capacity, the latest technology and integrate old solar

Load Analysis:

5.2-4.2kWh average daily winter/summer demand; 5.8kW design surge

Site Considerations:

Flat roof requires optimal tilt frames to improve winter solar ouput; clear old system

System Design:

  • OEA Complete 60-48 System – 6kW 1-phase output
  • OEA Adapt mount – install on customer veranda
  • 5kWh L-ion battery storage with BMS
  • 6kW Monocrystalline solar array on optimal tilt frames
  • Integrate old solar array via dc-shunt and PL40 controller

Solar PV Cell Expert Invests in Energy Storage Independence

LG Solar Panels


Customer was seeking a level of energy independence for their home, while freeing up an existing solar system to export more back to the grid

Load Analysis:

11.7-14.1kWh average daily winter/summer demand; 7.7kW design surge

Site Considerations:

Storage system to be installed under staircase inside home

System Design:

  • OEA Grid Autonomy 80-48 (Import Only) System – 8kW 1-phase output
  • OEA Adapt mount + storage cabinet
  • 15kWh sealed gel battery storage
  • 4kW Monocrystalline solar array on optimised north roof

Award-Winning Off-Grid Sustainable Home

Tilted solar array


Customers existing standalone power system was insufficient for their needs. Required larger capacity for a new build. Integrate old solar modules too.

Load Analysis:

11.1-11.7kWh average daily winter/summer demand; 6kW design surge

Site Considerations:

Large shed available for installation; bring old solar PV up to standards

System Design:

  • OEA Complete 80-48 System – 8kW 1-phase output
  • OEA Adapt mount – install in shed
  • 57kWh sealed gel battery storage
  • 4kW Polycrystalline solar array on optimal tilt frames on shed roof – yielding an estimated 132% of average demand, and 110% in winter
  • Integrate old solar array also via dc-shunt and FM80 controller
  • 5KVA backup generator (autostart)