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Choosing the Right Solar Panel System

Choosing the Right Solar Panel System

How can you be sure you’re buying the right panels for your property? Will you get the kind of electricity savings you expect? The decision to Go Solar can be daunting for most South Africans.

The reality is that solar panels are becoming more and more accepted as an excellent alternative to Eskom’s grid. Property owners are realising that a solar installation can save 30-50% in power bills after only a few years. And it’s not only money you can save – it’s your blood pressure as well, as you can keep your lights on during load shedding.

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We’ve compiled some information to help you make smart decisions when it comes to solar panel solutions for your property. Time to take back your power!

1. Do We Have Enough Sun?

Sunny South Africa averages more than 2500 hours of sunshine a year, putting us behind only the desert regions of Southwest USA and the Sahara. In power terms, this equals roughly 1 kilowatt per square metre, at noon on a sunny day.

In short: much like braai or shishanyama smoke on a Saturday afternoon, solar energy is hugely abundant across our land.  Rest assured that you’ll get excellent use out of any size solar system you install.

Related: Can Solar Panels Save You Money?

2. What Does A Solar Energy Installation Consist Of?

A fully functional solar panel system consists mainly of semiconductor material made into photovoltaic cells, an inverter to turn direct current into alternating current to power appliances, and lithium-ion storage batteries.

Unless you’re an experienced solar power professional, it’s best not to attempt any type of large installation yourself. However, you can buy smaller panels that most home or property owners can install. This option gives you battery backup that will see you through load shedding, or help you save on costs over peak power times.

3. What Kind of Solar Power Systems Are Available?

You can order a stand-alone solar system, and operate independently from Eskom’s grid, or a grid-connected system that feeds extra power back into the network.

Stand-alone systems only operate during sunlight hours, but you can install solar batteries to store power when the sun goes down or if it’s an overcast day.

Grid-connected systems use power from the grid if your home uses more electricity than is supplied by the solar panels alone. This is a popular choice for many South Africans, who want to offset power costs but not rely 100% on solar energy.

Related: Find Out How You Can Save Up To 50% On Electricity Bills!

4. What Kind Of Solar Power System Do YOU Need?

With a grid-tied system, you can just buy however many solar panels you can afford, and add more over time. One day you might end up with a completely off-grid electricity system. Of course, this entails more than one installation fee, so it’s up to the individual whether it would be more cost-effective than a larger initial outlay.

An off-grid or standalone system requires a bit more forethought, but it’s absolutely within reach of many home and business owners (especially if you take advantage of various solar financing options).

To get a good idea of the kind of solar panel installation you should buy, make a list of all your electrical appliances, how many watts each uses, and how many hours per day they are used for.

Multiply the total watts by the hours used for each appliance. then add them all up to get the total sum of watts you use every day.

Next, estimate the average number of sunlight hours your home or business is subjected to in a day. The number of watts your solar panels would have to generate will be the total of watts x hours, divided by sunlight hours.

5. What Are The Benefits Of A Solar PV Panel System?

On the largest scale: solar power is renewable energy and will be around for as long as the sun exists – another 5 billion years or so. It isn’t going to run out like Earth’s oil, coal or natural gas.

Solar power doesn’t release harmful emissions and pollutants into our air. Yes, pollution is caused by the manufacturing of solar panel elements, so it’s not perfectly innocent – but it’s WAY less harmful than the pollution caused by fossil fuels or nuclear power.

Solar power is increasingly being used in new affordable housing developments to save electricity costs, and lessen the risk of fires through candle or paraffin lamp usage.

The solar industry has huge potential to create many more (and much safer) jobs for South Africans than the coal and oil industries.

Solar power installations pay for themselves after a few years, and will eventually give you COMPLETELY FREE power.

Solar backup power means you won’t sit in the dark or cold during load shedding (which, according to Eskom, isn’t going anywhere for the next few years at least). You can maintain some quality of life, and keep your business running.

Last but not least: your power will be in YOUR hands, where it belongs!

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