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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Sol-Ark...Anyone?
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# Posted: 22 Dec 2018 17:16 - Edited by: LastOutlaw

I have four 300 watt panels brand new in the box that I have been sitting on for awhile. My electric bill keeps going up and up and up. I want to put these panels to use. I have 100 feet of awg2 copper wire as well that I bought off a contractor a few years ago. I'm looking at this Sol-Ark gizmo and it looks real neat but the price is not cheap. Around $6500. Put that with some Lith-Ion batteries and it gets even more expensive. However this thing looks like it does everything and more.
Here is a short write up on it and a link to their web site. Any of you Solar geniuses ( and I know there are some here) that might be familiar with this machine would be kind enough to give me their opinion on it?

Here is the write up:
Sol-Ark has discarded traditional design methodologies of DC- and AC-coupled battery systems and reduced the cost [over 25%] by combining all of the electronics into a single DC transformerless system in its 8K solar inverter. The transformers are needed for power conversion and 120/240-V split phase in/out, but are massive, expensive and create wasted energy. Eliminating transformers allows achieving a 96.5% efficiency, while using low-cost 48-V external batteries. Several expensive 380-V battery solutions claim high efficiency but fail to include the 380-V conversion losses to 50V in the battery.

Battery grid-tied designs can provide continuous power for selling back to the grid, but these sacrifice peak power for starting motors off grid. Peak power is why traditional DC-coupled inverters continue to dominate off-grid applications. Even though the Sol-Ark 8K has good continuous grid-tie power, engineers doubled the components for excellent peak power off grid to 20-kW. The 20-kW peak power improves long-term reliability and cooling of the system.

For customers living off grid, Solar-Ark incorporated programmable loads for running A/C and hot water on solar power instead of batteries (adding years to their lifespan). One of the single biggest issue with living off grid is knowing how much battery capacity you have left. so Solar-Ark incorporated a proprietary battery learning algorithm that accounts for aging batteries.

The inverter also includes a color touchscreen display and remote monitoring. Sol-Ark 8K was designed to be the easiest battery solar install ever, so even customers could installed themselves if they desired.

The Sol-Ark 8K is also reliant against EMP, solar flare and cyber-attacks. Independent government labs hit Sol-Ark 8K ~140 times at twice the military levels (100 KV/m) without damage to the inverter, appliances or panels. The inverter can also be updated remotely.

Here is a link to their web site:

# Posted: 22 Dec 2018 17:31

Most inverters sold by the mainline folks are pretty efficient - I don't think this Sol-ark efficiency is significantly better. Really depends on what you want/need, and whether you are grid-tied (with/without battery backup) or completely off-grid.

It's not difficult to keep track of battery capacity/drawdown. Get a Victron or similar (couple hundred $) that uses a shunt to measure current in/out. Many (most?) of the modern off-grid inverters have a built-in battery measurement system.

Bottom line is that I'm not sure how this is any better than some other vendors out there (but I didn't read through the entire website either....).

I would not run hot water using solar electric unless you have a very unusual situation. Very inefficient compared to gas/propane/wood or even solar rooftop hot water.

My two cents as someone who is not an expert but has installed solar (myself) on multiple properties both grid-tied and off-grid. Hopefully you will hear from someone who has actual experience with the SolArk system.

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