There are a good many good off grid suppliers out there here in Canada, but it appears there are more and more sales people that have got very little to no knowledge about the products they are selling and even less knowledge about electrical safety or what is required for ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) inspections to pass. In order to obtain home or cottage insurance your insurer will ask you for the ESA certificate before providing coverage.
Another factor to take into consideration is the amount of time your provider is spending with you to accurately analyse your electrical energy needs.
Here are a few questions you should always ask your supplier and if you get vague answers it is probably a good idea to not purchase from them. As we all know BBB (Bullshxx Baffels Brains). Here we go:
- Is the proposed equipment you are supplying all certified to Canadian standards?
- Do the charge controllers have ark fault protection?
- Does the equipment include lightning protection for AC and DC?
- Are the batteries supplied suitable and certified for residential use?
- Are the batteries suitable for prolonged cold storage?
- Is battery ventilation equipment supplied for flooded batteries?
- Is there any chance of thermal run-away on the batteries quoted?
- What is the percentage of self-discharge of the batteries per month?
- In case of LIFEPO batteries, do they have a built in BMS? (Battery Management System)
- Is the mounting gear engineered for wind and snow load in my geographical area?
- Are the electrical conductors sized according to code?
- Are the line losses calculated and within allowable limits?
- Is over current protection included for all circuits as necessary?
- What are the warranties for each individual piece of equipment?
- Can you quantify the self-consumption of your equipment?
- Can you supply me with previous customers contact info to verify their overall satisfaction of the equipment you sold to them? (Don’t settle for reviews posted on their website.)
If you are not 100% satisfied with the answers, flags should go up and a re-evaluation of the supplier should be considered.