An ultra-dedicated and passionate aquarium hobbyist has invested in a whole house battery back-up system, one of the first in the UK, to protect her precious seadragons in the event of a power cut.
Deborah Corker, known in the world of marine aquarium hobbyists, as the Dragon Tamer, suffered a devastating power cut a few years ago when keeping seahorses, losing 100 of the baby fish.
Any loss of electricity, resulting in a slight change in conditions is disastrous for seahorses, but even more serious for the seadragons she now keeps in the huge 4ft deep tank in her kitchen.
Seadragons are a marine fish related to seahorses and pipefish endemic to the waters of south Australia and are so rare in captivity outside public aquariums, that Deborah is the only person to keep them in England. Individuals can cost up to £10,000.
A massive amount of equipment is housed in three extra rooms including chillers, pumps, filtrations systems, fridges, auxiliary tanks and UV lamps.
Deborah said: “Seahorse are difficult to keep. Coldwater seahorses are very difficult to keep but coldwater seadragons are a nightmare to keep. They are very sensitive and having constant, reliable electricity is absolutely vital.
“When the power cut struck all the pumps failed. I was going ballistic at the electricity company but they don’t prioritise seahorse babies, so over the 6 hours the electricity was down, I lost about 100 babies.”
The Oxford resident has since relied on a neighbour-annoying petrol generator and battery packs lasting only a few hours to back-up the vital equipment needed to keep these sensitive creatures as well as PH detectors and cameras for monitoring.
But having spent thousands of pounds and countless hours creating an environment that could give public aquariums a run for their money, Deborah felt she needed a more reliable and long-lasting solution.
NGRE Solution – Whole House Battery Back-up
The solution came from NGRE in the form of a new-to-the-UK home back-up interface from SolarEdge, allowing a 20-panel solar array and a large 20kWh battery storage system to power her home in the event of a power cut, but most importantly to Deborah, safeguard her precious dragons.
Greg Bishop, managing director of NGRE, said: “Most people probably don’t know this, but your home energy storage system will not necessarily be able to power your home in the event of a power cut. Systems require additional hardware that makes this possible and even then, up to now, they would only power a few vital circuits.
“The SolarEdge Home Back-up Interface now allows whole house back-up, not just a few circuits, and Deborah’s is one of the first in the UK.”
He added: “Deborah’s system provides her with multiple benefits but I’m delighted to have helped provide her with peace of mind that she now doesn’t have to worry about a nightmare power cut again.”
SolarEdge Home Back-up Interface
Key to Deborah’s system is the new SolarEdge Home Back-up Interface. Conventional solar and battery inverters shut off when there is a power cut for safety reasons, preventing the systems from then powering the house.
However, the SolarEdge Home Back-up Interface, automatically controls the disconnection of the system from the grid, during power failures, and crucially allows energy storage systems and solar panels to continue to provide power to the house.
SolarEdge Home Hub Inverter
Deborah’s Home Back-up Interface is connected to a 10kW SolarEdge Home Hub Inverter, the brains behind the system. It performs the role of a home energy manager, in charge of PV production, energy storage, backup applications, EV charging and any other smart energy devices connected to it.
The system allows a good deal of flexibility, allowing users to choose full or partial home back-up, which specific loads to power and in what order.
Deborah has decided to set aside half her storage capacity for her aquarium equipment.
The Battery Storage System
Deborah’s Home Hub inverter is connected to two, 10kWh SolarEdge batteries providing a whopping 20kWh of potential storage. It can store excess power generated by her new solar PV system and store cheap energy from the grid and discharge it when electricity is more expensive.
The stored energy can be saved for nights, cloudy days and peak demand periods where household usage outstrips PV generation.
But Deborah’s storage system will never be depleted to under 10kW, as this is intentionally and specifically reserved for her aquarium and could run her equipment for days on its own, let alone the power coming from her new solar panels.
The PV System Fuelling a Power-Hungry “Hobby”
Deborah said: “When I first got the dragons my electricity bill was about £250 per month, but then during the electricity crisis, it went up to £1000 per month!”
Deborah’s new solar PV system comprises 20, QCell 395w solar PV panels producing 7,900kWp. NGRE calculates that the green technology will generate more than 6800kWh per year reducing her electricity bill substantially and her carbon footprint.
Each panel is connected to an optimiser that allows the system to constantly track the performance of each panel, maximise the performance of the whole array and identify any problems quickly. Unlike with some systems, in which the whole array is affected if there is any debris or shading on an individual panel, the optimisers allow the remainder to operate to their full potential.
Deborah is able to monitor the system easily through an online portal or via the mySolarEdge mobile app. Users are able to track energy generation and energy usage either in real-time or historically using easy-to-follow charts ensuring they use the energy produced as efficiently as possible.
Deborah said: “After a bit of research I discovered there were only two organisations who could provide the type of system I wanted; SolarEgde and Tesla. The Tesla system had really long lead times but NGRE were able to supply the SolarEdge system much quicker.”
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