Review of the SOLiC 200 Immersion Controller
Posted by Chris Rudge on 11 August 2014 at 9:06 am
In the quest to test as many of the current immersion heater controllers that let you use all your excess solar PV generated power, I got hold of a SOLiC 200 immersion controller to try out.
My first impression was that unlike most of the other immersion controllers that are on the market, this little unit was really basic, a box with three lights! No digital display or other high technology to be seen.
Opening the unit, I found a circuit board with a decent set of connection terminals, and plenty of space for manoeuvring cables. One end of the housing is used for cable entry through pre made 20mm holes, plenty big enough for up to 6mm cable. Though the unit is supplied with blind grommets to pop into the cable access holes, you could also use 20mm compression glands, which fit nicely and would hold the cables in place.
On my test installation
The house has a 2kWp solar PV and a 150ltr hot water cylinder. As with many other immersion controllers, the SOLiC 200 needs to be installed by the main consumer unit (fuse box), and have access to the main incoming ‘tails’ from the electricity meter. As you will see from the inside view photo, the instructions are really not needed for the wiring, as all is printed inside, so wiring was simplicity itself.
I needed to remove the Immersion heater feed cable from inside the consumer unit MCB, and extend with another piece of 2.5mm T&E cable to reach the SOLiC 200 location. Another length of 2.5mm T&E cable was cut to connect the SOLiC 200 incoming power back onto the MCB inside the consumer unit. Ensure all Earth connections are insulated and connected inside the consumer unit and SOLiC 200!!
That was it for wiring! Though this installation was a test and cable dressing was not at the top of the list, I had the installation completed in 15 minutes. So easy!
Before switch on the current clamp needs to be installed. The SOLiC 200 current clamp cable is about a metre long and the clamp needs to be clipped around the live incoming cable. If there is enough space, you can do this inside the consumer unit, but outside is easier if you can get to it.
Checking the instructions first, I was pleased to find that I just needed to make sure the hot water tank needed heating up, thus the immersion would be heating, and switch the solar PV system off. Switching on, the unit goes through a self check and makes sure you have the current clip the right way. Once a green and red LED are lit, I switched the solar PV system back on. After three minutes the third LED lit up green to show power is being fed into the Immersion heater. That’s it!
I found the unit really easy to install. Though there are no little extras that other units such as the Immersun2 will have, the SOLiC 200 has been designed by a seasoned MOD electronics designer to quick and easy to operate. Once in place, it will be soldier proof! The only user interface control that will get used is a handy 30 minute immersion heater boost button.
The test SOLiC 200 has been running for over a month now during the summer 2014, and has provided a tank of hot water every day from a 2kWp solar PV system. There is no indication of just how much power is being sent to the immersion heater, nor any display besides the green or red lights, but this is reflected in the cost of around £225 for the DIY install. An installer should not charge more than £100 to carry out an installation, as it's so easy.
For people who simply want a ‘fit and forget’ device, the SOLiC 200 does this very well, being inexpensive in comparison to other types. The only thing I found annoying during the installation were the tiny lid fixing screws which are inserted at the ends and easily lost. Other than this, I can see the whole unit has been thought through for minimum hassle installation and low cost.
I missed out information on the alternative operating mode, as I feel this would not get used so much, but you can find all the information on the unit, with stockists at Earthwise Products
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About the author: Chris Rudge is a qualified electrician who specialises in renewable energy.
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