Queensland Fire & Emergency Services

Company: Queensland Fire & Emergency Services
Location: QLD
Solution: 40+ 3.3kW & 5Kw Enphase & LG solar systems 

Description of Project:

Seeing first hand how house fires start due to problems associated with DC isolators, safety in a solar system was paramount. The client wanted a solar system for rural fire brigades that would be long lasting, requires minimal maintenance, was safe, versatile, expandable, able to be monitored and has high production. They required the same system over numerous sites that needed different layouts, with some sites having shading issues (trees, aerials etc), and some being in remote locations. The client’s aim was to reduce their running costs and to do their bit for the environment.

Solution:

At Excel Power we specialise in the installation of Enphase systems coupled to LG solar panels, which fitted the brief of the client. The safety aspect of the Enphase system, in which Enphase microinverters offer the most advanced inverter technology on the market, means a safer system, higher production, greater reliability and unmatched intelligence. It has a client friendly easy to use monitoring platform, with numerous reporting options, and fleet management. Enphase microinverters run at a maximum of 60 Volts, making the chances of an electrical shock close to zero. With Enphase microinverters, there will never be high voltage on your roof, which you could have with conventional string inverter systems. In addition, string inverter systems require DC isolator switches to be installed as a safety measure to protect from high voltage DC. However, multiple news reports link DC isolators of those conventional string inverters to overheating incidents and risk of fire. Numerous recalls of DC isolators have been made over the past few years resulting in loss of production for clients and also costs for installers to return to site to repair. 

LG solar panels have a higher production than most other panels, along with a 25 year product and performance warranty. LG have warehouses and offices in each state, with all parts warranted in Australia. This is a solar panel that will maintain high production for at least 25 years, with peace of mind for the client regarding performance, warranty etc. Overall, the Enphase / LG solar system is a great solution for the Rural Fire Service. They have received:

  1. The safest system due to its all-AC architecture
  2. The highest quality system due to components tested in the harshest climates
  3. The best value system that maximises self-consumption and leads to great savings on quarterly electricity bills
  4. The smartest system due to online monitoring and fleet management of all 22 systems on a single platform
  5. A very low maintenance solar system
Delivery:

Excel Power audited each site individually prior to installation. This was to ensure that the correct system was selected for each site, and a solar system was designed to suit each building. We then coordinated with each site when the installation would be suitable for both parties. Specific site risk assessments were performed on each station before any work started. All installations went smoothly, and a final folder and handover was done after each installation to the First Officer of each station. This was to ensure that each fire station was trained in for the solar system worked, and how to shut it off in an emergency situation.

Excel Power can monitor these systems remotely which can help to identify any potential failures without the need to travel to site to investigate further, saving valuable time especially in remote locations.

Outcome:

The Rural Fire Service is very happy with the solar project so far. They have received reliable, safe, low maintenance but productive systems to help reduce the costs of their stations. According to Tim Chittenden acting Superintendent and Regional Manager of Rural Fire Services, Queensland, this is exactly what they got:

‘Rural Fire Service across Darling Downs Area has undertaken a commitment to not only reduce our costs for local volunteer Rural Fire Brigades but also ensure we are being responsible community members and working to reduce our environmental impact. RFS

looked around for a reliable safe and highly productive solar system to meet our needs of reducing cost while doing our bit for the environment.  The Enphase and LG system has achieved this result and we are already seeing excellent benefits from the systems with

brigades producing more power than we are using. The use of Enphase microinverters with each LG Neon panel has ensured we will have a long lasting low maintenance system which has the highest safety standards.’

Excel Power continually communicates with the Rural Fire Service stations to make sure their solar system is working to its full potential. With Enphase monitoring, it is easy for the Regional Manager to see the cost savings provided by each system, but also now can see where sites can save energy. This project has enabled Excel Power to continue its training for staff in renewable energy, energy management and electrical. We have also provided an education program with the members of each brigade outlining system operation and safety, monitoring of the system and basic benefits of renewable energy.

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