Off grid systems, customer questions, part 1

Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Veli Markovic

Off grid solar systems

In this article part 1 of a 2 part series, we look at off grid solar systems and in particular, the specific initial questions to ask the customer to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Let's get stuck into it!

Off grid Renewable energy systems

Customer has approached you for an off grid system proposal and a full proposal takes time, effort, money so the first process is to separate the “wheat from the chaff”.

In other words, provide the customer with an initial preliminary proposal that can be one page and basically outlines the system design with reference to the average daily load, assumed or real.

First steps

Before presenting the preliminary costings, have to obtain vital information from the customer:

  • Site logistics
  • How many people will be living on the site,
  • Their ages future proof)
  • Budget,
  • HVAC electrical or other
  • Welding, other “hidden” electrical loads

Site logistics

When chatting with customers you have to ascertain actual site logistics.

For example, does the site already have a house built or are they in the process of building?

Will there be a large shed to house the solar panels or is there room for a ground mount system?

Does some of the wiring need to be installed at rough in?

Will the site electrician be responsible for the main switchboard and possibly trenching?

The answers to these questions will determine when the project will actually start.

Flowchart approach

By developing a flowchart approach the yes/no answers determine the next question and this way the scope of the  project can be quickly ascertained.

Q? Is there an existing building or are we talking about a new build? A   New build

Q? When is new build commencing? A  Started last month

Q? Is your on site electrician installing the main switchboard? A  Yes

Q? Where are you planning on having the solar panels installed? A On the roof of the shed

Q? Does the shed exist or is it being built? A New shed already exists

Q? How big is the shed?A Shed is 25 m x 15 m

Q? What is the orientation of the shed?  A Long side faces True North

Q? What is the pitch of the roof?  A 23 degrees

Q? What is the roof material? A colourbond

Q? What is the height of the gutter? A 4 metres

Q? What is the spacing of the roof purlins? A 1.2 metres

Q? What is the proposed distance from shed to house? A 35 metres approximately

From these questions we have ascertained that the house is yet to be built, existing shed to house solar, onsite electrician responsible for supply and installation of MSB, orientation and roof type.

Questions concerning energy

 Further questions include:

  • Are you on the grid at the moment?                                                               
  • What is your average daily load?     
  • Can we assume that this will be your average daily load off grid?          
  • Will both of you work from home or away?  

What now?      

Now we have enough information to provide a basic preliminary costing and we know where the solar is going and what the average daily load will be, approximately??

We will assume certain scenarios in regards to other factors. We have to now sit down and work on our preliminary design, solar, energy storage and generator component, assume a certain consumption profile and present a preliminary costing.

Preliminary costing

Customer has expressed interest in going forward with a formal proposal based on preliminary costing so you could possibly ask for a deposit

If they accept the project, the deposit is part of the cost, if not . . . . .

This is a business choice. If you can get a deposit from the customer, great!


As an off grid system generally involves a substantial outlay from the customer the ability to quickly separate the “wheat from the chaff” is very important and this is achieved by a yes no question answer process culminating in a preliminary costing.

If accepted the installer designer moves to putting together a formal proposal based on a load audit. See part 2 where we go into more detail.

If you’d like to see more of what Greenwood Solutions get up to in the real world of renewable energy, solar, battery storage and grid protection check out the following pages:

About the author

Veli Markovic

CEC Designer
Veli has nearly two decades of experience in the renewable industry. He is passionate about providing people with valuable education and is highly regarded throughout the industry as an educator and operator.
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