Is Solar for You?
Solar power is reliable and renewable, and it will give you a powerful return on your investment. We look at how it works and why you will want to invest in a solar power system for your home.
With an abundance of solar energy at our fingertips - or rooftops - South Africans should look to adding a solar system to their home. If you are in the market for energy independence, off-grid solar power allows you to access and store the energy of the sun - converting it to electricity by storing power in a battery to be used to power items such as household appliances.
Most households use solar power for a reason:
While an independent and reliable power supply is good to have, the saving factor remains the most compelling reason to invest in solar power. Depending on your household electricity usage, you may find that a solar power system produces more than enough electricity to power your home for a month, which results in zero electricity costs. However, bear in mind that you will still be charged a nominal fee to remain connected to the national power grid - even if you are not using it.
With a solar system that's tied to the national grid, your home can generate enough solar power to save you from power outages, and substantially lower your monthly electrical bill.
To set up your own solar system you need to consider the following options:
YOU WILL NEED:
Solar Panels are the first step as these capture solar energy. These are made up of photovoltaic cells that convert solar into direct current (electricity). There are a wide range of options for solar panels, ranging from solar panels mounted directly onto a roof, or free-standing solar panel kits that can be mounted anywhere with direct sunlight.
An Inverter converts DC electricity into alternating current (AC). It is AC that flows through the power outlets in your home to provide your appliances with power. You can also use an Inverter as a power supply or battery back-up in case of power outages. When looking for an Inverter, shop for a model that includes an intelligent 2-stage charger that prevents battery overcharging.
A Charge Controller - either 10 amp or 30 amp - placed between the solar panels and battery to regular current flow, and an Energy Monitor so that you can keep track and manage the energy you're using.
Whether you use a small system and install it yourself, or have a more complex system installed by a professional installer, your solar power system carries an upfront installation cost. However, the ongoing maintenance costs are small - especially when compared to the cost of fuel used to run a generator.
HOW TO SAVE WITH SOLAR POWER
Despite the initial, once-off installation costs, a grid-connected solar power system will pay for itself in the long term and is an investment that should be considered.
The amount of electricity you will save depends on how much electricity you use. Each and every electrical appliance in your home consumes a certain amount of power that is measured in watts and varies by device.
The sun delivers about 1 000 watts per square metre once its rays have been filtered by our atmosphere. A home solar panel picks up a portion of that wattage and supplies it to your home. .