I am still in the planning phase of an off-grid system (MP II + AC-coupled Fronius or Fimer + LiFePO4 battery), reading for months now all relevant infos.
Using a hot water boiler as a dump load in case of excess PV inverter power sounds attractive, otherwise that power would just be lost (because the MP II would throttle down the solar PV inverter when the batteries are full).
But it does raise a few issues :
Most water boilers (at least in France) take a long time to heat up, depending on volume of the boiler and capacity of the heating element (anywhere from 1,5 up to more than 5 hours).
During summer this may not be an issue : provided the solar system is correctly dimensioned there will be plenty of excess PV inverter power over the day and the water heats up to the temperature configured on the water boiler (typically a mechanical thermostat in simple boilers), say 55+ C.
However during winter this is rather unlikely and water may be heated up to e.g. only 35 C. That´s a perfect temperature for legionnella bacteria colonies to grow (growth range : 25 – 45 C). You won´t be taking a shower at 35 C, so you will need some means to increase the temperature (e.g. gas heater). Unfortunately, while showering the water temperature gets increased to e.g. 55C in the gas heater for only a very short time, not long enough for legionella bacteria to die, which takes 5-6 hours @ 55C and still more than 30 minutes @ 60C).
You would have to heat up the water to 70 C for the legionella bacteria to die instantly. But that takes a lot of extra gas ….. and so you would loose the energy saved by means of the dump load, possibly even more.
Legionella is not wide spread in western Europe, but if not recognised and treated early on potentially very dangerous.
All this makes me wonder if a boiler dump load is a sensible solution. Any comments ?
b) Efficiency : AC Thor, SoC
Heating water electrically is not very efficient, but who cares about efficiency if that electricity would otherwise be lost ….
The My-PV ´AC Thor´ is a technically clever solution, but rather expensive (because you also pay for a lot more functions which you will never use in a ´dump load only´ scenario, a fancy LCD which you will never look at again once the system is correctly up and running, data logging, etc). IMHO technically it may be the best, but no pay back in a reasonable time frame.
Switching on the boiler via the relay built into the MultiPlus II based on SoC is a standard feature at no extra cost, except for boiler, piping, cabling and RCD. But it will eat some battery capacity and if for example you switch on at 99% SoC and off at 95% SoC it will likely take a very long time for the boiler to warm up (switching on-off-on-off- ….), with the potential risk of the (literally) tiny problem mentioned under a) …..
All this makes me wonder if it is not far better to save the money otherwise spent on a dump load solution and put it in the budget for larger battery capacity.
Any thoughts / comments ?