Here in South Africa we are experiencing frequent power blackouts, as I work from home on a small property (generators not an option) this is rather disruptive to my work as a programmer. So bearing this and the rapidly rising electricity prices in mind I need to find a solution.
I've searched already and found very similar questions, but most of them are centered on e.g. the US and give advice that won't work for here. A few key differences.
1) There are no rebates here for installing solar
2) There is no 'grid tie' allowed - that is feeding back into the grid is not only not paid for but is illegal.
3) The blackouts - we experience and probably will for the next few years 'rolling blackouts' of 2 - 4 hours at various time intervals - almost always during daylight hours - due to power shortages.
Also solar and especially batteries are very expensive here and I definitely can't afford a complete off grid system up front, and would probably want to buy any system I do get in pieces.
So here are my needs in order of priority:
1 - I need to get my critical systems for work: computers/routers etc. onto battery power with enough juice to last at least 2 hours ASAP the solar portion can be added on later.
2 - I would like to power at least that part of the system with solar, this will help offset my power costs and also increase the length of power outage I can go through should things get worse.
3 - I would like to be able to use any excess power to offset the costs of the rest of my household items, and possibly add more solar in future to cover more of it, but only want to generate around 80% as any excess generation would go to waste (can't feed back into grid) - and I don't want to waste money on batteries I don't need.
Below is roughly what I think a system that best fits my situation is like.
So a few questions:
1- Any recommendations on where you would change/improve/modify this system to get better value for money, improve safety, improve efficiency or otherwise improve on it somehow?
2 - How to stop the feedback into grid?
3 - What can I use for the 'splitter' portion to ensure that power goes first to the critical system and that only excess goes to the non critical stuff?
4 - At the 'combine' portion, how do I ensure that the non-grid power is favoured first before the grid power (when both are available)
5 - How can I ensure that charge controller only takes from the AC if batteries are below a certain level, do some charge controllers already have this feature or do I need an other component for that?
6 - Given that routers, computers etc. all run DC internally would it be worthwhile looking at having them all draw directly from the battery to avoid the cost and efficiency loss of the inverter - or is it not worth the hassle?