Leslie Bryan,  Normandy, France.       Nov 2022/2023.


The below is an update on European and Worldwide equipment. And in these uncertain times, i am getting allot of folk asking about creating your own energy.

Its the basics, but i trust it helps you.

 It’s the WILD WEST out there regards RE, especially with Solar industries and installation companies.

 We have been R&D independent non-commercial on Renewable energy and True sustainability for over 22 years now, yes things have changed and PV has certainly become far more efficient today, and its still a very low cost. Infact PV, from about 2012, is such a good return on investment and power output, that i no Longer recommend Wind Turbines or PV Soalr Trackers. 

 In general, across the world, actual complete systems that do everything are rare and very expensive for what they actually are.

So sorry, but if you are interested in setting up your own systems, then you are going to have to sit down and go back to technical college and learn from all the folk who have something and actually running it. Beware, there are loads of armchair wafflers in RE.

 Firstly, what is your normal energy consumption in KW’s.?


Most small off grid systems like to take PV, Photovoltaic Panel, which has a DC output and charge a battery bank and have a standby generator for those murky days..

This battery bank then runs a main Inverter that takes DC at 12v, 24, and 48vdc and converts it to 230vac at 50HZ or 60HZ. Very Few small Main Inverters are actual Pure Sine wave, so some motor driven appliances, micro waves, washing machines etc, may not work correctly.


Then there are slightly larger systems built around a normal Utilities connected electricity supply. And the PV DC output now goes to a GTI, Grid tied Inverter, that uses the Utilities Grid to sync- with, and then pushes the AC voltage up a few volts and back-feeds to the Utilities Grid, and your meter goes backwards, (not any more but you get the drift). Or you are credited by the utilities for supplying them with green energy. You can also use this GTI created AC 230v for your own use, so the utilities grid for you becomes a Virtual Battery. In France you can only connect a max of 3KW system into the EDF with  a single phase supply.


Then we have a bigger system that have a small battery, I call a small battery below 40KW, and the main Inverter also acts as the battery charger and a GTI, and switches over automatically depending on the energy its getting and can also switch back to EDF utilities grid or a standby generator etc.

Each manufacturer has compatibility issues, and some have clunky software control, so most systems will have just one manufacturer supplying just their equipment.


Totally Off Grid system for a normal domestic dwelling, normally has about 15KW of solar panels, AC coupled GTI’s Battery chargers, minimal 45KW about  800ah at 48vdc battery storage, and a standby generator. Hydro is very cost effective with good proven simple systems available.


 Then we have serious systems across the world that are commercially installed but then the whole concept of using renewable energy becomes not cost effective as the installation can be silly and very expensive money.



Okay, so what’s next, sorry it’s a minefield out there with loads of unscrupulous manufactures and very dodgy so-called specialist commercial companies trying to sell you stuff that does not fit my below criteria’s.


My Criteria’s,…….. Is the product SIMPLE? Is it ROBUST? is it COST EFFECTIVE? can it BE REPAIRED?


SIMPLE, Some RE stuff is over complicated because the manufacturers make more money if its got loads of bells and whistles.

ROBUST, Is its lifespan long? Does it actually run at the manufacturers published outputs? and can it take harsh conditions, and is it easily repairable?

COST EFFECTIVE, do the financial figures add up.


 REPAIR, Last year this was possibly not an issue, as most commercial manufacturers tended to do a swap out if the product was faulty. But today, with shaky supply lines and specialist electronics that are superseded very quickly, products should be repairable. My Ethos, “ Make it once and keep it going for the sake of the Planet”. But sadly, most commercial folk see no money to be made by having stuff repairable.


If you have an electric car you want to charge during daylight hours, or a pool to heat etc, then 30KW of PV would suffice. Remember, in winter gloomy dark days you may only get 3KW out of a 30KW PV system.


What stuff do I recommend? Sorry I cannot publish the Bad, as some companies really do hate me!.

But here is a short list of manufacturers that are okay at present.


One retailer, Online in France, I have used who have delivered what they say they have in stock is OSCARO POWER. They also do the 3KW self-install kit for hook up to EDF utilities Grid, see their web site for further details.


PV, loads of China stuff but LONGI and TRINA are okay and at a reasonable price, LG are very good. Other good manufactures have stopped making PV as their profit margins were reduced.


PV charge controllers for small systems to charge batteries. I recommend 'MIDNIGHT classic 200', made in the USA can handle up to 200vdc of PV and up to 70amps, its not a toy. 'Morningstar Tristar's' also USA, again very well made and very robust charge controllers and very good cost, and just run even in overload conditions.  High quality good RE equipment is not available in France, so you will need to use another EEC Country supplier.  For USA products I use a Spanish Company who have a UK web site but are actually in Spain,  www.prismsolar.co.uk

GTI’s, Grid tied inverters, Sorry can’t recommend any that are in production at this present time. Older ones yes but the utilities insist that the it’s a new GTI machine with all the correct paper work chase. The latest micro inverters that go on each  panel are interesting, but, and a big but they are very expensive for what they are  and what  they are doing.

We here in Normandy use old SMA Sunny boys, toroid type GTI’s. All are second hand/used as they are very cheap and good quality.


Main Inverters that change 24vDC and 48vDC to 230vAC 50HZ & 60HZ pure sine wave output, just one commercially made consistent maker called VICTRON, and uses old toroid technology and is based in Holland, (sadly there stuff is made in INDIA but is inspected and tested in Holland).

They only go up to about 4KW output each but you can link a maximum of 3, and together they can giver up to 12KW, but they have a good range of differing machines. The VICTRON main inverters can also AC COUPLE.

 Batteries, for normal domestic off grid use then I recommend above 800ah 48vDc 1200ah/60KW is best. I  still recomend Lead Acid Forklift types.  As their weight is of no issue on a static system.  The only modern battery tech  types is the LIFE PO4 where my good friends have had up to 8 years operational life so far.  But the charging regime BMS, battery monitoring system, for these is very critical. Get it wrong and the modern tech batteries fail quickly, where Lead acid batteries are very forgiving.

ROLLS or SURRETTE based in Canada on the US border, make a range lead acid just for Off Grid systems etc.

In Europe there is BATER in Poland who make Forklift OPZs lead acid batteries and make a Solar range , and Sonnenschein (Germany), who make a range of OPZ’s however these two have manufacturing plants, but may be just importing the basics and assembling rather than controlling the original QC.


Okay, Over 21 years we have ended up designing and making stuff to my criteria’s, and that makes us very independent, and even published a few books to show others.  I am on most good RE Forums across the World where there are some real smart cookies that share their knowledge to everyone.



Just about all PV is from China now, but you do need  a crystal ball and watch the supply lines and greed coming, so get PV way ahead. We recently shared a full pallet of 36off 400w PV panels, 14.4KW, with a friend and got Trina’s through a French Importer Oscaro Power.



Our MAIN INVERTER. The OzInverter was designed and made here, and published a book on how to make a real Simple, Robust and very cost effective 6KW running all day, 15Kw for 20 minutes or so, and take surges of up to 50KW. Importantly because of its design it can handle up to 11Kw of AC COUPLING and back charge the batteries. I note in a recent book review, “This is real, and shows best practice in making an Inverter”


Our Solar Trackers, designed and made here when PV was expensive, that can have 3.2KW of PV each, Simple and Robust and again very cost effective. Been up and withstood hurricane wind conditions. Another book.


Our Wind Turbines. 3 off 3.7m diameter to Hugh Piggotts design, all made here from raw materials, Another small book.


We do AC coupling here big time, but keep the system design simple.


At present doing the R&D on a modern version of a lead acid PLANTE battery. Each is 2v cell about 440ah to 500ah and weighs about 55kg, for 48vdc system we need 24off. As you use the PLANTE battery the amperage improves. Becuase of its design a PLANTE battery has a Long Life expectancy of about 25 years. Each battery cost about 240 euro in materials to make. Yes, doing another book.


Solar PV systems, 9.6KW static above ground  array, roof arrays and wall arrays. Another book.

And of course we are also writing our complete book on RE and Sustainability Project, as after 22 years we are nearly finished with our 12 buildings and 10 buildings with separate electrical installation. But its a large book and going to be very costly to print. Somewhere between 400 to 600 pages, again loads and loads of colour photos and that wonderful empirical evidence again. Also, a few stories from across the World from folk who do.

One day soon we will have an open weekend. Might even do some short week or weekend courses, and yes we have individual accommodation, and we have a solar PV heated SALT Swimming pool for guests.

I am just, as the Mrs says, A boring mechanical engineer.

I trust the above helps?