From 2017 to 2023: What full time off grid looked like

Full time off grid – 2023 to 2017

2023 is year two of the “all in one”.
2020: Victron all the way.
2017: Victron controller mated to the Schneider SwitchGear Box and a 4048 SW. This picture was taken “on the bench.”

In 2022 we moved over to “all in ones (AIO).” Why? Price, safety, ease of use, much faster installation. 2023 brings two new suppliers of AIO.

PRICE: $3 to 5k.

  • Split phase — 120/120v
  • 5 kwh+ per phase. 2023 sees better pricing, ease of install.
  • 80 amp solar controllers with high voltage (500v)! 10 or more kwh of solar is easy.
  • Dual MPPT solar controllers means you can have two arrays each in a different location up to 1,000ft/300m from your home.
  • “High frequency” puresine. Easier on motors and charging EVs.
  • Easily expanded.
  • Reduced install and maintanance cost.
  • Some programming issues remain. Dagnabit. But not bad and batteries that talk to the inverter / charger. Yup. Way easier.
  • Lower complexity.
  • New suppliers bring much improved ease of use.
  • cETL, cUL, etc.

In 2019 we moved over to all Victron equipment. Why? ease of use, less complexity for the installer.

PRICE: $7 to 10k.

  • Only 120v out of the box per unit.
  • 3kwh per phase or higher with two units
  • Up to 250v solar control
  • “Torodial” puresine. Better. Still a leader in idle loss.
  • Easier to program
  • Far superior reporting
  • World class reliability.
  • Expandable.
  • Some system complexity
  • Ever improving between device communication. Albeit with a price.
  • Still our recommendation for anyone doing RV or boat install. (in a high vibration environment the only equipment we will spec.)
  • World renown but not all cUL and that meant off grid / boat / rv only.

BobolinkSolar’s full time systems in 2017/18 used Schneider inverter / chargers and Victron solar controllers.

PRICE: $10k+

  • Split phase. 120/120v.
  • 2 kwh per phase. Load balancing is, um, a consideration.
  • Up to 250v solar control.
  • “Low frequency” puresine wave. Lots of deep power to start big loads.
  • Expandable up to 9kwh. But…
  • Some system complexity
  • Terrible to program. Just terrible. We’d get there but could literally take days.
  • Reporting not fully developed.
  • Super reliable. We’ve updated systems where the Schneider inverter was coming on 20 years old and still running fine.
  • cETL, cUL, etc.

Our goal has always been 25 year service life. Lithium batteries certainly helped. There has also been continual improvement; inverters have become more robust for less money; solar controllers algorithms are so much better; managing charging and distribution easier; bluetooth/wifi reporting improve user experience. Solar panels are not just improved in efficiency (16 when I started is now over 21%), they’ve dropped in price.

Only and ever lithium batteries

The biggest change over the 12 years Kelvin has been building solar: batteries. Lead gave way to lithium. High lithium battery prices spawned a “crashed electric car” revolution which Kelvin led (he’s the most surprised). That revolution has given way to the new lifepo4. These are not just higher capacity, but they come pre-assembled inside a metal box, breaker, BMS. More reliable. Easier to use. Faster to install. Safer. Geez, they even “talk” to the inverter now.

Kelvin’s BobolinkSolar systems have continually improved reliability, ease of use, safety; while dropping in price. Huzzah.

This is one of BobolinkSolar’s first full time systems; six and still happily creating electrons. And yes, we still recommend building a solar shed for your system. EV charging, yup.

We build them robust, everything is done right.

Run your cottage or home, charge your electric car, use a heat pump, wood pellet furnace, dishwasher, induction stove: all normal appliances. The lithium battery pack changes off grid performance. The exceptionally low resistance means large draw appliances, once forbidden to off grid solar users, are the new normal. At least at BobolinkSolar.

What you get with BobolinkSolar is actual off grid experience. We’ve been off grid since 2010. We do not believe in shortcuts or second rate when it comes to full time off grid. Expect the very best. No sales gimmicks. Just today’s systems, affordable designs, reliable knowledge. Many dozens installed and proven. Hundreds of families have happily paid for Bobolink advice and equipment. Tens of thousands have read our online support (we have one post with 50k reads, early 2016 on building and using lithium battery details).

Our systems benefit from continual improvements. All tested in actual off grid use. These are not driven by engineers or enthusiasts. These systems are tested, every day, by families living off grid reliably, safely, happily. And, if we may, for the lowest cost per cycle. Remember, a small savings now but a shorter lifespan … well poof. There went any savings. Yet over engineered systems are money you might have preferred to use elsewhere. And there is “ye olde solar” still. Just not at Bobolink.

We are very careful to build solid reliable modern systems that will work for you and your family for decades to come. While not forgetting: budget counts.

Sample 2023 system
  • Batteries have never been better. 2 to 8 5kwh rack mount batteries (that’s 10 to 40kwh) complete with ultra high UL1973/9450 safety.
  • Solar control is now “high voltage”. This moves your solar up to 1,000 feet/300 meters from your home easily. Out of sight, more solar gain (note: ask Kelvin about his system placement preferences — experience makes a difference).
  • Inverter/charger/solar AIO: Two new suppliers for 2023! Top rated and proven reliability as well as ease of use, lower cost.
  • Solar panels/racking : 3 to 10 kwh solar. 2023 its MonoPERC bifacial panels. Over 21% efficient now available. The winter performance off grid needs. We continue to recommend (since 2017) Kinetic Solar racking. Bifacial panels are proven to have many winter generating benefits for off grid solar. We only sell bifacial for off grid now.
  • Complete systems or just the bits you need. All new or upgrades to older systems.
  • 90% plus system efficiency. We know the value of squeezing every watt out of your system.
  • Consulting: many families, particularly outside of Ontario, Canada, benefit from our “consult and get it right” program. Starting at $450 our designs have saved thousands on system purchasing and “not have to do it again two years later” or run into issues or unexpected costs… (note: we don’t do system sales outside of Eastern Ontario: we work with your suppliers to ensure you get maximum value for your, in all fairness, unique circumstance).
  • Assembly assistance/labour only in rare cases. We do DIY and DIY with electrician support. Ask about our “electrician installed” consult savings.
  • international shipping no longer available.