Why would you choose to put a Solar System in your house?

There are many benefits to going the inevitable solar route in your home. One of the main factors is the constantly increasing cost of electricity. Fact, the cost of electricity is never going to come down so you can expect an increase to your electricity bill year on year going forward.

A second major factor is load shedding. We have gone though a fairly good period of late where there has not been much in the way of load shedding but we are certain that it will return without warning in the near future. Many substations have not been maintained correctly over the years so they are starting to pack up and the cost of replacing these has not been accounted for in  government budgets. Should they go down it could be days or weeks that you are without power.

You may also consider the ‘green aspect’ and the environment for your kids and future generations in your thinking about solar. The rest of the world is moving in this direction at a rapid rate so the next logical step is to follow.

There is never a better time to start your solar journey than now!

Where to start?

When we are approached by a client who is looking into solar we always start the conversation with ‘energy efficiency’. Being energy efficient as a first step might mean that you don’t necessarily have to buy a solar system right away.

  • What we do know is that an electric geyser can account for as much as 46% of your monthly electricity account. By installing a solar geyser you are already going to be saving substantially from day one.
  • Next we look at your lighting, just by replacing your old light bulbs and converting them to LED lighting you can see as much as a 90% saving daily on your lighting consumption.
  • Then we look at your appliances such as fridges, freezers, washing machines, air-conditioners, pool pumps etc. These all draw a lot of power on a daily basis. Were you to upgrade these to more energy efficient A++ rated appliances you could see further drastic savings.

The above are simple steps that can be taken to get you started. We offer energy audits where we plug our extremely accurate data loggers on to your DB board for a 14 day period to give us an exact measurement of your daily usage for each appliance, plug point in your house. Once we have this information we can see where your highest consumption takes place and recommend what you need to change in order to become more efficient. SMALL CHANGES can mean BIG SAVINGS!

If you are happy with the savings provided by going through the above process and you still want to try and save more, we then move on to the different solar system options.

What are the most common types of systems used in a home?

Grid Tie System

This system is purely for bill reduction. It is a fairly simple system that is the most cost effective as it does not have any battery back-up. Essentially you use as much of the sun’s energy as you can during the day along with a small amount of Eskom when required, and then at night you would be using Eskom.

  • The solar panels generate energy from the sun.
  • This energy converts from DC to AC current through an SMA Inverter which will supply your house.
  • This system is also still connected to the grid (Eskom).
  • Should you not be getting enough ‘solar energy’ to cover all consumption required in your home, any shortfall will come from Eskom.
  • A drawback to the system is that if Eskom has power cuts your house will still go down because you don’t have the battery back-up.
  • Major positives are that they are not that expensive to implement and that you start saving money on your electricity from day one.

Hybrid System

The name speaks for itself in that this system is a combination of the Grid-Tie and Island Systems. The system does require batteries which makes it more expensive than a Grid-Tie System, but not as many batteries as the Island System. It requires fewer batteries as it is also still connected to the Eskom Grid.

  • The solar panels generate energy from the sun.
  • This energy converts from DC to AC current through an SMA Inverter and charges up your battery bank. The batteries are your back up for evening use.
  • During the day your house will run off the ‘solar energy’ with any extra energy charging your batteries.
  • At night or when there are periods of low ‘solar energy’ during the day, your system with the use of a Victron Inverter will then draw from the battery back-up.
  • A drawback to the system is that it has a limited number of batteries which means that should we have really bad weather for a few days in a row that don’t allow the solar panels to generate enough energy you may still need to tap into the grid for some of Eskom’s power.
  • Major positives about this are that most of the time you will not have to worry about load-shedding or drawing power from Eskom. We do live in South Africa after all which means our good days of sunshine are pretty much guaranteed.

Island System (Off-Grid)

This is the kind of system you would use if you are in a more remote area where there is no access to Eskom power or if there are big problems with power cuts for days or weeks on end.

  • The solar panels generate energy from the sun.
  • This energy converts from DC to AC current through an SMA Inverter and charges up your battery bank. The batteries are your back up for later use.
  • During the day your house will run off the ‘solar energy’ with any extra energy charging your batteries.
  • At night or when there are periods of low solar energy during the day, your system with the use of a Victron Inverter will then draw from the battery back-up.
  • A drawback to the system is that it is the most costly of all of the systems available and that is normally due to the cost of the high number of batteries that are required to keep you running at all times.
  • Major positives are that once you have installed this you never have to worry about paying for electricity or having load shedding again.

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