As solar power is becoming the major alternative to unreliable grid power from Eskom, more and more consumers are looking to invest in their own solar installations for their homes.
These systems are typically based on consumer power requirements – do you have a small home that can run on 20kW per day, or does your large family home require 100kW per day? Our sunny South African climate may power your home via solar panel on gloriously clear days, but what about your night-time energy requirements, and what happens when it’s overcast? Let’s explore some solar systems so you can get an idea of what’s involved in putting the power in your own hands.
In most solar systems, you can typically expect to find the following components:
The solar panels collect energy from the sun, which is fed into the system as DC (direct current) electricity. This DC power is converted to AC power (alternating current) by the inverter, which makes it usable by household appliances or stores it in the battery bank to be used later (when solar power is not directly available from your PV panels).
The DC/AC integration does need the input of a qualified electrician, which can add around R10,000 to your installation costs. Should you DIY? This is not recommended unless you’re in the electrical installation business yourself.
A simple Google search will yield multiple examples of home solar kits and systems available in South Africa. These range from 1KW mini kits from around R6,000 (excluding installation) to large 10KW systems, including installation, for around R200,000. While this might seem like an exorbitant capital outlay, remember the benefits:
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to solar powered installations, so it’s best to answer the following questions:
Keep in mind that the decision to switch to a renewable energy source like solar power is not just about powering your home in a different way, but about changing your energy consumption mindset. When you get a home solar kit installed, it means using power more efficiently. The biggest drain on your home power comes from any heat-generating appliances: electrical stoves/ovens, kettles, geysers and heaters. These can be mitigated by switching to gas for cooking and heating, and by either installing a gas geyser, or using a timer to switch your geyser off when it’s not being used.