live Q&A with George

Giv-ing you support: a live Q&A with GivEnergy guru George Rawding

On Friday 4 August, we conducted our first ever Instagram Live event. George Rawding, Communications Manager at GivEnergy and general guru for all things Giv, took to the smartphone stage in a live Q&A session.

Here’s the transcript of how that session unfolded.

“Hello everybody, hope you’re all well! My name is George Rawding. I’m the Communications Manager here at GivEnergy, and welcome to our very first live Q&A!”

Q: Can we get an update on progress on the EMS?

“For those of you not aware, the EMS is our Energy Management System. That’s a bit of kit that’s going to allow us to combine multiple inverters together.

Some people out there have dual or triple inverter setups, but that’s not actively supported by us right now.

So, the EMS is coming out to address those problems. We’ve been testing a version in our labs and it’s getting good results. We can at the moment balance load and state of charge across 3 AC coupled units altogether. We’re currently working with our software devs to get that set up on the portal properly.

Plus, we’re opening this up to beta testing with select customers throughout August and September. You may well hear from us if you’ve got a dual or triple inverter setup!

So that’s coming along pretty well. I understand there’s been a bit of a wait but it’s ticking on nicely our end – more updates on that in the future.”

Q: Is there any possibility of a backwards compatible gateway for AC coupled and hybrid inverters?

“Not right now – but it is something that we’re thinking about. With the All in One coming out we’re very much focused on linking that up with the Giv-Gateway as a standalone system.

A gateway option isn’t currently something that’s supported by us for an AC coupled or a hybrid – but we’re in talks about it. I can’t give away too much information on that at the moment. However, I can confirm that it’s something we’re very much interested in doing. We’d definitely like to try to allow everyone that kind of backup service that you get with the All in One if you’re an existing customer.”

Q: Is the Giv-Gateway mandatory with the All in One?

“It is indeed, yes. You need the Giv-Gateway fitting with the All in One. When you purchase the AIO, you should be getting the gateway with it as a package. You shouldn’t be able to (at the moment, anyway) buy them separately. So, if you are seeing that out and about, please do let us know because one doesn’t really work without the other.”

Q: Is there any information on the battery chemistry of GivEnergy batteries?

“Yeah – absolutely. I’m sure a lot of people will be familiar with this anyway, but for those people who are not, we use a battery composition called lithium iron phosphate. (LiFePO4.)

That’s one of the safest compositions around for batteries at the moment and it’s completely non-flammable too. There’s not really anything on the market that can compete with LiFePO4 at the moment.”

Q: How do we become an advanced installer?

“That process is undergoing review. You can still become an approved installer on our website just like always. So, you sit the GivEnergy training. Then, after you complete the training, you send us the relevant criteria to be showcased on the website.

However, we are currently reviewing advanced and platinum installer statuses. We had an issue recently with one of our premium installers that sadly let down a lot of people. As a result of that, it’s made us think more about how we want to classify those types of installers.

So, the process is currently under review and when we’re happy with it, you’ll get an email from us on how to apply.”

Q: Is the EM115 meter listed as a MID approved meter?

“It’s not no – the one that you would have with our system isn’t. There is an option out there for a MID approved version of the meter but it’s not something we currently stock. If the demand is there then we can absolutely start doing something like that, but right now it’s not something we see as a viable option.”

Q: Can you control the inverter without an internet connection?

“You can – absolutely. You’ve been able to do that for probably a good couple of years now, and it’s all via a piece of software called Home Assistant. Now, this isn’t my forte, but within Home Assistant you can use a technology called GivTCP.

GivTCP gives you access to your system’s local API, and you can control it without connecting to our cloud servers. If you go to our Community Forum, there’s a whole load of articles by some very clever users who have developed this off their own backs. Essentially, GivTCP will allow you to connect and control your system without connecting to our servers.

We still do need the system to be connected to Wi-Fi for maintenance reasons. For example, if anything ever goes wrong, our guys need to be able to see the system. Plus, Wi-Fi is essential for software updates too.

But in terms of actually using the inverter and setting up, you can absolutely go about it via GivTCP.”

Q: Can I couple a 9.5 battery to my All in One unit?

“No you can’t unfortunately. Firstly, there’s not really a physical port to add another battery to – they’re not designed like that.

Secondly, the All in One uses high voltage batteries to support the higher output of the system. The standard domestic batteries that we manufacture – the 2.6, the 5.2, and the 9.5 – they’re all low-voltage.

So, the two products don’t really play together like that.”

Q: What settings should I use?

“Settings-wise, it’s all completely up to you. Obviously there’s a little bit of common sense that comes into play. For instance in the summer, you’d probably be fine leaving your system on ECO mode. (The standard mode that’s pre-set on all the systems.)

ECO mode will essentially just charge up your battery from your excess solar, and then discharge it back to your house when that solar diminishes and you’re having to start pulling from the grid.

Going into winter, if you’re on a tariff that gives you a cheap overnight rate like Economy 7 or one of the Octopus tariffs, then you should absolutely be utilising that to make the most out of your systems. Charge up on the cheap overnight rates, and then discharge throughout the day to cover you on that higher rate window.”

Q: Are there any plans to add multiple charging slots for the inverter?

“It’s not something that’s currently in the pipeline – but that may change. It’s a good idea! Plus, I don’t think that it will be too difficult to do.

Right now, a lot of our resources are going to linking the product we’ve got coming out into our existing ecosystem. However in time, and if we do get people asking for it, then we can absolutely look at multiple charging slots.”

Q: Is it possible to connect the GivEnergy system to Google Home?

“Not currently, but it is being worked on right now. You can connect your system up if you’ve got an Alexa device, but with Google Home it’s not there just yet.”

Q: Why do I have to wait so long for a site visit?

“That’s a tricky question. It’s fair to say that we, as a company, are very aware that the wait times for things like site visits are not where we’d like them to be. We’re doing a lot of work to try and improve that right now.

For example, we’ve recently partnered with a select number of distributors up and down the country to bring down that wait time if you were to have a site visit. (But that’s a process in itself as well!)

We’re doing a lot of work in making the site visit experience better. Ultimately, we want to get wait times to around 10 days. We’re currently at about 2-3 weeks – which is long, but it’s not as long as it certainly has been.

It’s something that we’re very conscious about and we want to improve for everybody moving forwards. If you are having a long wait time, please do tell us and we can look to see why that is the case.”

Q: When will the EV charger be available?

“We are aware that the EV charger is something that’s been talked about for a good long while now. I can’t give you a date unfortunately, but it is very close indeed. Production has just started to wrap up on those, so we are hoping that Q4 time, you should be able to get your hands on one.

For some context, the priorities of the company changed after we initially announced the EV charger. As a result, our All in One was fast-tracked in development. The EV charger was put to the side for a little bit in order to accommodate for that.

Now that the All in One is up and running, our focus is very much back on the EV charger. We’re working hard on getting that out for everybody as quickly as we can do.

We’re really excited about it, and think it’s going to be a bit of a game-changer for us – having a nice complete system altogether like that. We’ll share more EV charger updates as the year goes on. But for now, we’re very excited indeed!”

Q: How do you compare with Tesla systems?

“That’s a very loaded question! In my opinion, we’re a lot better – but I’m sure someone from Tesla would say the exact opposite. We’re a UK based company, so especially if you’re in the UK, that gives us a USP. If you were to ever have an issue or want to talk to us – we’re here. We’re based centrally in Stoke on Trent, and you get that support from our UK-based service team who are all downstairs working away as I speak.

We are competitively priced too. I think the system speaks for itself in terms of the spec but also price-wise we are a competitive outfit, especially for the All in One.”

Q: Will the new Gen 3 hybrid inverter work faster with a direct ethernet connection?

“Not specifically, though ethernet is a more reliable internet connection. If you connect your system to Wi-Fi, connections can be a little bit flaky. Or, external factors can cause the connection to drop out. Whereas, if you use an ethernet connection, then it’s a secure physical connection. However, I’m not aware that it should cause your inverter to work any faster.”

“Thank you very much – it’s been lovely to spend half an hour with you today!”

Want to see this session in action? Watch the video for yourself:

If you enjoyed this live Q&A and would like to get involved next time, follow us on social media to get upcoming dates and to send in your queries. We look forward to chatting!