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GoodWe BP ReviewGoodWe has just released what could most simply be called a solar battery charger, the GoodWe BP. If you want to sound a little more informed called a charge controller. Big deal. How many solar hybrid inverters are out there at the moment and why should we care about GoodWe’s?

Who is GoodWe?

The name GoodWe is a strange one. It reminds me of when I was living in the Lakes District in England with a French lady called Antoinette. One day she decided to go out into the garden and collect escargot to prepare and cook for dinner.
As I swallowed my first snail she smiled and asked
“Good, Oui ?!!”.
“Wee”, I said in my best French accent – I lied.

GoodWe is a Chinese inverter manufacturer with a reputation for quality. The inverter has been rebadged by companies such as Renesola (Replus) and Zeus Appolo. More recently it is being used as the guts of Redback Technology’s Hybrid inverter and the Ampetus Energy Pod. In December 2015, GoodWe was listed on the “National Equities Exchange and Quotations”, more commonly known as the “Chinese NASDAQ.” Not a bad effort for the Chinese company that sprang into existence in 2010.

 

The Emerging Battery Storage industry

If you haven’t heard the news, the latest thing in solar is to store your excess solar power in batteries, then use that power at night. It’s a rapidly growing market as consumers are fed up with getting paid diddly squat for sending their valuable solar power back to the grid. It’s going to revolutionise energy generation and distribution – but the industry is just in its infancy.

While trying to understand this emerging solar storage industry, there is one bloke who is unarguably a leader. Glen Morris has lived off-the-grid with solar in a community in the Yarra ranges outside of Melbourne for the last 20 years. He’s the Vice President of the Australian Solar Council and Vice President of the Energy Storage Council. The bloke is genuine solar-storage royalty, complete with an enviable beard and castle on a hill. Last week while  I was in Melbourne, Glen gave me an hour of his time to show me around his training facility at Moora Moora.

Glen’s gentle enthusiasm was infectious as he showed me around his uber man-cave next door to his idyllic hay-bail home. The training facility consists of a bunch of old sheds and a purpose-built boat house that he has converted into an in-service micro-grid generation station. I struggled to keep up as he walked me through the toys that manufacturers had sent him to test and destroy. As we walked past a GoodWe inverter, I asked him what he thought of GoodWe as a manufacturer.

 

 

“Oh, have you seen this one Mark.”

‘Well no, not this particular GoodWe inverter …. but….”

“It’s not an inverter. You gotta check this out” Glen insisted.

The following 2 minutes were a blur of excitement – I’d be lucky if I retained 50 percent. But I got the gist. Glen likes it, so I need to look into it. When I got back to Brisbane, I called Bill Allison from one stop warehouse to help me interpret Glen’s excitement.

 

How to charge a solar Battery

There are two main ways to connect a solar system to a battery. AC coupled, or DC coupled.

AC coupled

AC coupled is a great retrofit solution. If you already have a solar system, and you wanted to connect batteries, then connect the battery to the output of any inverter and charge your batteries with the solar power after it has been “inverted”. The down-side to this is efficiency losses. It requires converting the DC power on the roof to AC (through the inverter) then to DC to charge the battery, then back to AC to feed your house. Every time you convert from AC to DC looses efficiency. There are some bad examples of AC coupled systems like the Enphase Battery with a charge and discharge rate that renders it all but useless. SMA recently released more interesting examples in the SMA storage. The down-side to the SMA is that its cost increases ridiculously if you are using any inverter other than an existing SMA.

DC Coupled

DC Coupled is the preferred option. This way you use the DC power from your roof to charge the batteries before it is inverted to AC. At night time, when you want to use the battery power, it sends DC battery power to the inverter, to invert it to AC power.  The DC to AC conversion only happens once. It’s much more efficient and elegant. Until now, the downside to DC coupling has been that you need to have a hybrid inverter. If you were retrofitting an existing system, you would throw out your existing inverter and replace it with an expensive hybrid inverter. Again this is costly.

 

Enter the GoodWe BP

GoodWe explains that “BP” stands for “Battery & PV”. PV stands for PhotoVoltaics, the fancy name for solar power.  If that’s too hard to remember, remember that the GoodWe BP is a vibrant yellow, a similar colour (one might imagine) to the honey making insect’s urine. If I had my way, I’d call it the “GoodeWe DC Coupled Retro-Fit Solar Battery Charge Controller” – or  the “GWDCCRFSBCC”.

It’s not a hybrid inverter. It’s not even an inverter. It’s simply a device that sits between your existing panels and inverter to charge your solar battery. The genius of the GoodWe BP is that it can be installed onto an existing system, and it works with most solar panels, most solar inverters, and a growing number of batteries.

 

The GoodWe BP pro’s

  • It’s cost effective. Around $1500 cheaper than using an SMA Storage or retrofitting with a hybrid inverter.
  • It can be retro-fitted to any inverter.
  • It can, in theory, be coupled to any battery – lithium, gel or lead acid. This is in theory only. The battery manufacturer has to test the integration and approve the use of the GoodWe to validate your battery warranty. GoodWe tell me that batteries that are currently approved include the LG Chem, Pylontech and BYD lithium batteries, and the Shoto lead acid battery. The compatibility of the GCL battery is currently being tested. Considering the GoodWe is a few weeks away from arriving in Australia, this an impressive start.
  • The current model can take 6kw of solar power in, and it can charge and discharge the inverter at 2500w
  • It has WiFi Monitoring, albeit modest.

The GoodWe BP cons

  • It can probably only use half of your solar. Most solar inverters are broken into two parts or two “trackers”. This means about half of the panels run on one of the inverter’s trackers (think “engines”), and the other half run on the other engine. The GoodWe inverter can only use one of your inverter’s trackers. So you will probably only be able to use about half of your panels to charge the battery.
  • It can’t run when you have a blackout. Your existing inverter will not allow it. Many hybrid inverters will also not allow this, but if you are paying a premium for a battery, I think you deserve the luxury of having a bit of power in a “blackout” and have the luxury of using the power that your panel are producing during the day.

Conclusion

The GoodWe BP Series is an interesting concept from a reputable Chinese inverter manufacturer. The biggest advantage is that it makes retrofitting any battery more economical. While it has a decent 6kW solar capacity, and a reasonable charge and discharge capacity, it is limited by the fact that it will often only be able to be connected to about half of your solar panels, i.e. one string. If you loose grid power, your battery won’t be able to be used as backup. However given the right application, the GoodWe BP seems pretty Good, … Oui?

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21 Comments on "GoodWe BP series for Retro-fitting Solar batteries"

21 Comments on GoodWe BP series for Retro-fitting Solar batteries

Mark C said : administrator Report 6 months ago

Hi James, I think they mean the BP will only work on one tracker of the inverter. So if you have 2 strings of panels on the roof going into 2 trackers, half of the panels run through the BP but the others won't.

James Webber said : Guest Report 7 months ago

I have read on several different sources that the BP is only compatible with single phase inverters. I have a three phase and cannot understand what difference it makes considering it connected to the DC circuit. What am I missing?

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Mark C said : administrator Report 12 months ago

Hi Michael, We haven't used them, as we've decided Tesla is the best offering as a whole, so we've stuck with that. I hear mixed reports about Goodwe as an inverter - but no real experience myself.

Michael said : Guest Report 12 months ago

Hi Mark, some months have passed, have you installed any of these or had any updates on them? I'm curious about feasibility of this and maybe a PylonTech as a small, lower cost battery setup, feeeding into a Primo. We average about 600kwh in evening (down to 300 after lights out) so may give us a few hours. Home all day as well, so utilising our solar gen as much as possible. Not worried about backup, just load shift a bit.

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Mark C said : administrator Report one year ago

Hi Jake, I didn't mean to suggest that an AC coupled systems works by "converting and reconverting all of the PV", just the energy that is to be stored. It seems that you are saying that in a DC coupled system, all the power must run through the battery. This isn't the case in either AC or DC coupled systems. Only excess power goes to the battery, just as it does with the AC battery (as you explained). My LG battery in my office is currently out of service. We are still exporting, so I'm not sure what you mean there. Am I missing your point?

Jake said : Guest Report one year ago

One challenge to the efficiency and preference of DC over AC: It is important to note that the primary function of the battery system is to manage the flow of solar to the home loads, with the balance of energy supplied to/from the battery. In self supply mode, an AC coupled solution is more efficient at supplying AIr con/pool pump and any other large loads in peak solar hours, because there is only one DC to AC converion through Pv inverter to the loads. The Ac coupled battery is only supplying/absorbing the balance; not converting and reconverting all of the PV as you suggest. In a DC coupled solution, there is always two stages of conversion: solar to battery, and battery to grid. In non-solar hours, your argument is correct, however in a 24 hour cycle, the efficiency argument is negated. My preference is AC coupled due to one consideration with DC: charge controllers (within the hybrid inverter design) are much more limited in flexibility as far as input ratios of PV to AC output. Plus, if you prefer the flexibility benefits of microinverters where their benefits are applicable, AC is the only option. Finally, if your battery goes out of service, and export is permitted, you lose PV gen in a DC coupled system. All real world things to consider.

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Mark C said : administrator Report one year ago

Hi Minh, Good question! I'm not sure if the batteries will continue to charge, I will ask Goodwe to respond. For your second question, the Goodwe will discharge when the solar is smaller than the house's load.

Minh Tu said : Guest Report one year ago

Hi. In case of a blackout, I know the on grid inverter will not working but Goodwe BP 2500 still charge the battery or not? If yes, will discharge this energy when the grid is on (or at night). Another question is Goodwe BP 2500 will discharge only when the sun sets or whenever power of solar smaller than the house's load.

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Plu42jiKoyh said : administrator Report one year ago

Yes, that's a huge down sided Christopher - it can't be assumed that having a battery will mean you can run off grid.

Christopher said : Guest Report 2 years ago

"It can’t run when you have a blackout. Your existing inverter will not allow it. Many hybrid inverters will also not allow this" I had wish I knew this before I had my 15kw system ordered :S the whole idea was to have a perfect power backup system for keeping my fish alive

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Robert Massarotti said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Smart Bridge to arrive March 2017- 2 x MPPT Inputs. Works with Lead, Lithium (LG) and Aquion Check out the website. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Plu42jiKoyh said : administrator Report 2 years ago

Thanks for your input Glen!

Glen Morris said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Hi Quinten, I have a Goodwe BP in my training facility connected to a Goodwe SS grid-connect inverter. It works as described by Mark. I haven't yet had a chance to try it with other inverters but I can't see why it wouldn't, since it is just mimicking a PV array at night by presenting 360Vdc to the GC inverter's MPPT input. Glen

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Plu42jiKoyh said : administrator Report 2 years ago

Very interesting Quinten. I spoke with Goodwe while I was writing this blog. I'll send this question on to Glen Morris. I have not yet used the Goodwe BP. Glen has at his training facility.

Quinten said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Hi Mark, I asked the question to Goodwe about the use of the BP with other brand inverters like ABB, Fronius etc and they replied "Dear Quinten, We have not tested other brands with our BP charger. We can not guarantee they can work with our BP at this stage. Best regards. Alan" Have you had any experience or know of anyone who's installed one of these units and if they've had any issues? Thanks

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Plu42jiKoyh said : administrator Report 2 years ago

Hi Mathew, It would use Current Transformers (CT's) to measure the power being used. If your house is using 3kW of power during that hour. But that would be unlikely. The 3kW inverter would have a potential of discharging up to 3kW - if the house needed it. If your house was using an average of 1000w in the evening then 3kWh would last 3 hours. If you had time-of-use tariffs (not in Qld atm) then you could programme it to only discharge during peak rate times.

Matthew C said : Guest Report 2 years ago

So how does it detect what usage is being used in the house? For example when the sun sets does it just discharge the battery straight into the inverter at the inverters maximum capacity? So in theory lets say you had 3KWH of energy stored in your battery and a 3KW inverter does that mean the battery pack would only last 1 hour after sunset?

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Plu42jiKoyh said : administrator Report 2 years ago

Hi Tim, Because the BP is between the inverter and the panels - (in other words, is does not "face the grid"), it is your grid tied inverter that needs to set up as zero export. The BP can compliment this setup, in that it will not discharge to the grid if the zero export inverter does not allow it to.

Tim said : Guest Report 2 years ago

Can you set up zero export with the BP when used to retrofit to an existing system ?

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Plu42jiKoyh said : administrator Report 2 years ago

Hi Keith, If you need reliability of a battery, I would go with Tesla and SolarEdge. How often do you lose power, and for how long? There are several options depending on budget and need.

Keith Munro said : Guest Report 2 years ago

What do you recommend for use in case of a blackout?

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Keith Munro
Guest

What do you recommend for use in case of a blackout?

Tim
Guest

Can you set up zero export with the BP when used to retrofit to an existing system ?

Matthew C
Guest

So how does it detect what usage is being used in the house? For example when the sun sets does it just discharge the battery straight into the inverter at the inverters maximum capacity? So in theory lets say you had 3KWH of energy stored in your battery and a 3KW inverter does that mean the battery pack would only last 1 hour after sunset?

Quinten
Guest

Hi Mark, I asked the question to Goodwe about the use of the BP with other brand inverters like ABB, Fronius etc and they replied “Dear Quinten, We have not tested other brands with our BP charger. We can not guarantee they can work with our BP at this stage. Best regards. Alan” Have you had any experience or know of anyone who’s installed one of these units and if they’ve had any issues? Thanks

Glen Morris
Guest

Hi Quinten, I have a Goodwe BP in my training facility connected to a Goodwe SS grid-connect inverter. It works as described by Mark. I haven’t yet had a chance to try it with other inverters but I can’t see why it wouldn’t, since it is just mimicking a PV array at night by presenting 360Vdc to the GC inverter’s MPPT input. Glen

Robert Massarotti
Guest

Smart Bridge to arrive March 2017- 2 x MPPT Inputs. Works with Lead, Lithium (LG) and Aquion Check out the website. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Christopher
Guest

“It can’t run when you have a blackout. Your existing inverter will not allow it. Many hybrid inverters will also not allow this” I had wish I knew this before I had my 15kw system ordered :S the whole idea was to have a perfect power backup system for keeping my fish alive

Minh Tu
Guest

Hi. In case of a blackout, I know the on grid inverter will not working but Goodwe BP 2500 still charge the battery or not? If yes, will discharge this energy when the grid is on (or at night). Another question is Goodwe BP 2500 will discharge only when the sun sets or whenever power of solar smaller than the house’s load.

Jake
Guest
One challenge to the efficiency and preference of DC over AC: It is important to note that the primary function of the battery system is to manage the flow of solar to the home loads, with the balance of energy supplied to/from the battery. In self supply mode, an AC coupled solution is more efficient at supplying AIr con/pool pump and any other large loads in peak solar hours, because there is only one DC to AC converion through Pv inverter to the loads. The Ac coupled battery is only supplying/absorbing the balance; not converting and reconverting all of the… Read more »
Michael
Guest

Hi Mark, some months have passed, have you installed any of these or had any updates on them? I’m curious about feasibility of this and maybe a PylonTech as a small, lower cost battery setup, feeeding into a Primo. We average about 600kwh in evening (down to 300 after lights out) so may give us a few hours. Home all day as well, so utilising our solar gen as much as possible. Not worried about backup, just load shift a bit.

James Webber
Guest

I have read on several different sources that the BP is only compatible with single phase inverters. I have a three phase and cannot understand what difference it makes considering it connected to the DC circuit. What am I missing?

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