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Can Electricity from Solar Energy Replace Eskom?

South Africans are growing increasingly frustrated with Eskom’s inability to supply us with enough electricity. Power cuts seem to occur during the most inconvenient times and we’re all wondering how and when things will improve. The fact is, solar energy is the best existing answer to this dilemma. Not only is solar energy unlimited, but it’s becoming cheaper and cheaper every year.

So let’s discuss the implications of bidding Eskom farewell and becoming self-sufficient in terms of energy. Is solar energy affordable? Is solar energy manageable? And is solar power at the point where it can offer us the same lifestyle we are used to?

Have you decided to go off the grid?

Eskom’s grid power is no longer as reliable as we remember it being ten or more years ago. The company has admitted that they are unable to supply the entire country with simultaneous power. The result? Load shedding—and no end in sight.

Fortunately, an alternative energy solution is available to South Africans. Solar energy is growing in popularity and is likely to take over many South African homes in the near future. If Solar Energy is the Solutionyou’ve decided to take that step and go off Eskom’s grid, then the following information is just for you.

Understanding power prices in South Africa

Do you sometimes hesitate whether going off the grid is a good idea? These statistics should help solidify your decision.

In 2010, the cost to power your home or business with solar power was ten times more what it would cost to stay on Eskom’s grid. Today, it’s practically the same either way—but without the inconvenience of power cuts. If you add up the total cost of equipment and installation and divide that amount into the months and years of savings, you pretty much break even.

But let’s take a practical look at the future. Will Eskom’s prices continue to increase? And will solar power continue to become cheaper and more accessible? The answer to both questions is YES. If such a massive price comparison change can happen in five years, just imagine what will happen in the next two, four or ten years.

Is solar energy the future of South Africa?

From what we have seen thus far, it’s painfully obvious that solar power is the logical alternative to our power crisis. You’re not alone in coming to this conclusion either. South Africa as a country has recognized the potential of solar energy which is obvious by the following observations:

  • More and more solar power suppliers are opening up in South Africa
  • Electricians are becoming increasingly qualified to handle solar energy installation and repair
  • Solar panel manufacturing plants are being opened in South AfricaPower a House Using Solar Power
  • Multiple ‘green homes’ have been—and are being—built on a yearly basis

These facts show that South Africans are leaning fast towards sustainable energy sources. So far, solar energy is the most affordable and practical of these sources.

Sustainable energy for South African industries

South African home owners aren’t the only ones who want to switch to alternative energy sources. Company owners are also seeing the benefits of doing so. Not only will they save money on their electricity bill, but they will STOP losing money because of all the economically-damaging power cuts.

Farms are also taking the solar energy route. Many farms—especially organic farms in the Cape region—are using solar power to run their machinery. Processing food can be expensive—especially when you’re relying on UNRELIABLE power from Eskom.

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Do your research

You’ve already asked whether it’s viable for solar panels to replace grid power. Now that you know that it certainly is, it’s time to ask some other important questions:

  • How many panels will I need to go completely off the grid?
  • How much will the initial installation cost be?
  • How much will I save per year?
  • Will there be any long term maintenance costs for my solar system?
  • Will I get a return on my investment when I sell my property—or am I over capitalising?

True Home PowerSo can you say goodbye to Eskom for good? The answer is a resounding, YES! But as with any big decision, you need to be sure you have covered all your bases. It’s becoming more and more obvious that solar power will become the norm in South Africa within a number of years.

So get off the grid and switch to the most logical and environmentally friendly option: Solar power! It’s an investment we are all going to make sooner or later—so why not start now?

* Informative YouTube video series teaching about solar

 

Can a Homeowner Install Solar Panels?

Equipment for a solar power system is expensive enough. Add to that the installation costs and you have a bill that’s often a bit higher than you expected. For this reason, you may be tempted to install  solar panels on your own. But before you install solar panels, consider the implications.

Read the following and consider all options available to you. You may decide that to install solar panels without expert assistance is too risky. On the other hand, you might decide you know enough to install solar panels. Whatever you decide, here’s some education on what you can expect.

Solar DIY kits: Are they worth it?

Some solar power companies in South Africa supply DIY solar kits. These have been equipped with installation instructions and have been designed to make installation ‘simple’.

You Can Install Solar PanelsIt’s worth mentioning that to install solar panels is only one aspect of a complete solar system. These DIY kits also include inverter, batteries, and all the cables needed to connect all necessary components.

But several things stand out when you look past the marketing campaigns of these systems:

  • They usually contain way more components than is first apparent.
  • You are dealing with electricity if you route the power through your board. Are you qualified to do this?
  • Upon researching one of these kits, we found that there were pages and pages of technical information on each component. This information has to be understood before installation can take place.
  • These kits are likely not tailor-designed for your home. Certain cables may be too short, and panel brackets may not accommodate your roof.
  • Suppliers are happy to sell you these kits without first checking whether they are compatible with your home or office.

These and other factors can be overlooked, but they are cause for concern if installation is to be done properly.

Will DIY installation save you money?

If you’re not a certified electrician who is familiar with solar system installation, there are some serious considerations to make. Let’s take an honest look at some of the risks involved in a DIY installation:

  • You could damage your roof and incur additional expenses for repairs, leaks and even injury.
  • Incorrect installation may cause permanent damage to some of the components—many of which are expensive.
  • You may shock yourself during the installation process because of incorrect wiring.
  • There are permits needed to install certain components. Finding and applying for these may take more time than expected.
  • Badly installed components may not be weatherproof.
  • If additional equipment is needed for the installation, you may end up purchasing items that are not compatible with what you already have.
  • Your installation could result in less efficiency than an installation done by a professional.

Time, money and expertise needed to install solar paneSolar Panels on Rooftopls

Of course, there are some advantages to installing your own solar system—but only if it’s done correctly. The obvious benefit is that it will cost you less. Since solar system installation can cost up to R24 000, it’s no wonder home owners opt to do it themselves.

But remember that having a professional do your installation will take no longer than a day or two. Doing it yourself could take days or weeks if you run into any snags. Having it done right the first time is a huge time and money saver.

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Should an electrician install solar panels for you?

So do you have a friend or acquaintance who is a qualified electrician? Just remember that solar power systems are relatively new in South Africa. An electrician who has 25 years of experience may not have the know how to install solar panels.

Don’t let someone talk you into letting them install solar panels without seeing some proper references and qualifications. Make sure those qualifications are specific to solar power installation and check up on the references you receive.

Installing a solar power system is not something that should be done by amateurs. Not only is the equipment highly specialised, but it’s expensive too.

Is DIY your only option?

Perhaps a DIY installation is still the route you prefer. For those who want to install solar panels Man With Solar Panelsthemselves, we’ve added a list of guidelines to help you along the way:

  • Do lots of research on the equipment you buy.
  • Ask your supplier as many questions as possible to make sure you have covered your bases.
  • Take measurements of your home’s installation area and quote these to the supplier before making your purchase.
  • Work slow and methodical. Rushing will only result in irreversible mistakes.
  • Take precautions while testing the system. Remember, you’re working with live electricity here!

So our best advice is to get a professional to do you installation. However, if you are able to install solar panels yourself, make sure you do so wisely.

* Interesting YouTube video about a home solar power installation in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town

How Many Solar Panels Do You Need to Power a House?

When South Africans are calculating how much a solar system will cost, they will eventually question how many panels they ultimately need. Here we will give you a useable guideline on how much power your ordinary home needs, and how many panels you must have to meet that need.

We’ll explore four main aspects to to establish how many solar panels you require. First, we must look at how efficient solar panels are. Then we will determine the difference between three different house sizes. We’ll also consider the various appliances you have in your home and finally touch on the area in which you live.

Solar panels: Efficiency versus size

An important aspect we must consider is the variety of solar panels available in SA. Some panels are larger than others and will subsequently generate more electricity than smaller ones. On the other hand, there are some panels that have a higher watt output because of the way they have been designed.

The cells within the solar panel have a lot to do with how efficient that panel is. If a solar panel contains larger cells, that panel will have a higher watt output. Of course, panels with higher watt outputs are more expensive, but they make up for this with their efficiency—and the fact that they take up less space.

What constitutes an ordinary house?

Now let’s look at three houses which would be considered in South Africa to be ‘medium-sized’. If you’re looking for info on how many panels will power your ‘ordinary’ house, then chances are your home falls under one of these descriptions:

  • One-bedroom house as a base measurement

Many complexes contain one-bedroom homes. These homes are either occupied by a single person, or by a couple. Knowing how many people live in the house is also a determining factor on how many panels will be needed to power that home.

How Many Solar PanelsWe can safely say that if two people are living in a one-bedroom house, they are using an average of approximately 600kW per month. That’s 20kW per day. Now we must work out how much a panel can produce in one day. Bear in mind that the panel must generate and store enough power to last for the entire day and night (and should also factor in the possibility of an occasional rainy day).

Taking all of these factors into consideration, we can conclude that a one-bedroom house needs as many panels as will generate 20kW. Since panels come in different watt-outputs, we will opt for a typical 210watt panel for the sake of this discussion. So about nine or ten panels will be needed to power this house—if you want to go completely off Eskom’s grid.

  • Two-bedroom house

A two bedroom house likely has three people living in it. This will push the watt usage slightly Solar Panels for Midsize Houseup, but no more than 100kW per month. An extra six panels should suffice to make up for this extra power usage. The total amount of 210watt panels needed is then 16.

  • Three-bedroom house

Three-bedroom houses can have anywhere between two and five people living there. But let’s take it in the middle and say that four people are living in this home. 800kW per month is a safe estimate on power usage. Another six to eight 210watt panels will accommodate this increase, bringing our total to 24 panels.

Consider your Mansion With Solar Panelspower usage

When working out how many solar panels you need to power your South African home, be sure to work out your average power usage. This will be influenced by what appliances you have in your home and what your daily habits are.

If someone spends most of the day at home, power usage will increase. If you have a large television, air conditioning or a large geyser, you can be sure that these will significantly influence your power needs.

Also remember that during summer, you are likely to have lots of fans going. Of course in winter, heaters use about three times more electricity—unless you use gas heaters.

Consider your area

Location is also a determining factor. If you stay in Cape Town where it rains a lot, you will need more panels (or ones with higher efficiency). However, if you stay in a predominantly sunny area such as Pretoria or Mpumalanga, fewer solar panels will be needed.

How many solar panels do you need?

Take all these factors into account and work out how many panels you would need. Also consider checking out high efficiency panels for better output if you don’t have the space for lots of panels.

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* Useful explanatory YouTube video about how many solar panels you need

Do solar panels work on light or heat or both?

Here’s a question asked by analytical minds: “Do a solar panels work (generate power) from the sun’s light, or from its heat?” The question can be simply answered. But for the sake of satisfying your analytical mind, let’s look at this subject a bit more in-depth.

We all know that solar energy comes from the sun. But which element of the sun is responsible for the eventual energy we derive from this resource? The sun is a limitless source of energy—both in terms of light and in heat. So can we only utilize one of these elements or both?

Is there a difference between sunlight and the sun’s heat?

The sun is synonymous with heat creation. But it’s also how we know it’s day time, because of all the light it creates. When we speak of the sun’s light and the sun’s heat, we are obviously talking about two different things.

How do Solar Panels WorkBut in terms of solar energy, these two are more similar than you may realize. Both light and heat are an electromagnetic type of energy. The technical answer to our main question is “Light.” But the light that penetrates a solar panel is actually excited to a point of kinetic energy.

The same LIGHT photons that create this energy on a solar panel create HEAT on other surfaces. For instance, if you have a solar-heated pool, the same sun that creates light on a solar panel will here create heat on the water pipes. So while we may see them as completely different aspects of the sun, the energy type is virtually the same.

What happens when light penetrates solar panels

So now that we know that it is light which creates energy in a conventional solar panel, let’s see how this process works. To put it simply, light photons are already a form of energy. When they hit solar panel cells, they create a new type of energy called kinetic energy.

This kinetic energy is constantly in motion. That motion is what pushes the newly created energy out of the panel cells and out to the rest of the system. The system will then—through several processes—create the energy we use in our homes.

How to intensify the efficiency of a solar panel by exploiting light

Now, because light is the determining factor in solar power creation, many people have created ingenious methods of harvesting that light more effectively. The most popular way of doing this to date is through the use of mirrors.

If a number of mirrors can concentrate the light into one area, what you have is essentially multiple suns shining onto one panel. On a panel that has an efficiency rating of 20%, this can Solar Panels and the Sunalmost double the efficiency.

Another method of increasing efficiency is by creating panels that move with the sun. It goes without saying that at the time the sun shines directly at the panel, it has the highest efficiency. If, however, the panel moves with the sun, it gets direct exposure all day long; instead of for just an hour or two.

Can the sun’s heat also be used to generate electricity?

There are also solar panels that use the heat of the sun to generate power. Thermoelectric materials are used to manufacture solar panel cells so that the heat of the sun is converted and stored.

The problem with this method is that of efficiency. The sun creates light whenever it is up—even if it’s concealed behind clouds. But the sun—even when it’s up—doesn’t always create heat. For this reason, light solar panels are way more popular in most countries.

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That being said, there is also solar panel technology that makes use of both these methods. This of course generates more electricity than either of the two that only use one of these methods. However, these panels cost way too much to manufacture and most users are simply not willing to pay the price for this efficiency.

Solar Panels at SunsetDo solar panels work on light or heat?

So for the most part, light solar panels are used to power a home or business. Chances are, if you see a solar panel up on a roof somewhere, that solar panel is making use of the sun’s light rather than its heat.

Bear in mind that the two are similar in their energy form. For this reason, we can make use of both aspects to generate higher efficiency. Hopefully, in the near future, this technology will be more affordable than it is now.

* Next generation solar panels: YouTube video

What is a Photovoltaic Cell?

If we were to shrink ourselves to the size of small bug, we could better see the small, detailed design that makes up a solar panel. Panels consist of multiple cells called photovoltaic cells. These cells are an integral part of creating energy out of light. So let’s grab our shrinking ray and take a MUCH closer look at a little component called the solar panel photovoltaic cell.

What does photovoltaic cell mean?

The first thing we must understand about the word ‘photovoltaic’ is that it is made up of two parts. The word ‘photo’ means light, whereas the word ‘voltaic’ refers to electricity. So what we have here is a word that means ‘light-electricity’—better explained as, ‘electricity from light’.

It’s the perfect term because that’s exactly what each little photovoltaic cell does; it produces Photovoltaic Cellelectricity from light. But because one photovoltaic cell is only capable of producing a fraction of the power needed to run a building, MANY of these cells are needed. So how are these cells arranged in a solar panel?

Arrangement of cells in a solar panel

The average home needs a lot more power than a single photovoltaic cell can generate. That’s why solar panels consist of many cells. These cells are arranged in rows. Several rows are then grouped together and a number of groups then form part of the solar panel’s inner section.

Collectively, the stringed-together cells collect loads of sunlight—enough to create an electric current. Most people will purchase at least six panels to enhance the harvesting power of their photovoltaic cell system.

How does a photovoltaic cell work?

But let’s shrink ourselves once more and take a look at how this one little photovoltaic cell works. There are some intricacies involved here, but they can be explained quite simply.

  • Special material

An individual cell is made up of two main materials that perform two major functions.

  • The first function is that it absorbs light. As you know, certain metallic materials get hotter faster. This is because they absorb heat and light a lot quicker than other materials do.
  • The second function is that it is semi-conductive. This means that it relays its energy from one cell to the other—thereby creating a stream of energy.
  • Different layersAnatomy of a Thin Film Photovoltaic Cell

The cell consists of three layers. The first is the material that absorbs the light. Under that is the semi-conductive material. At the bottom of these two layers is a back plate to hold it all in place.

  • Active energy

When light hits the cell, the photons from the sun push the electrons through the second layer. This creates actual energy movement within the cell. But this movement is not random; it follows an ordered flow from one cell to the other, thereby creating a direct current.

Now, times all that activity with the rows, groups and panels of cells in any given system. As you can imagine, this creates a great deal of energy. Once the current is created, it can flow through the DC How Photovoltaic Cells Workjunction box and finally to the inverter. This inverter converts that current into what we call an alternate current. This is a form of electricity that can be stored in a battery, or used to power a device.

 

 

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Understanding cell efficiency

There are different kinds of panels and some are made out of different cells to others. Companies who develop these cells are always trying to create ones that are more efficient than those of their competitors. When you hear of solar panel technology taking place, it usually refers to the ongoing development to improve solar cell efficiency.

Cells are made more efficient by maximising the factors that make them work. This includes how light-absorbent they are, how conductive they are, and how many o

Solar Power System

f them can fit into a single solar panel. The more efficient a cell, the more power it will ultimately generate for your home or business.

Further efficiency is attained when cells are designed to move with the sunlight. In other words, if a cell follows the direct rays of the sun, it will harvest more light than a cell which remains still. Other developments are sure to take place in the future, so watch this space!

Tiny but awesome

Now that you know what a photovoltaic cell is and how it works, you will better understand the complex process taking place in a solar panel. Remember this process the next time you look at a solar panel and appreciate how intricate it actually is.

* Simple explanation of PV cells on YouTube

 

 

 

 

 

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in South Africa?

You already know all the benefits of having a solar power system for your home or business. But how much will it cost to buy such a system? This question has a number of implications. For instance, if your new solar power system isn’t saving you money, then what’s the point? But the fact is, solar power is not only more convenient, it’s actually a great way to save money.

Now before we can answer the question, “How much do solar panels cost in SA?” we must ask three important questions. The first pertains to how many solar panels you will need to power your particular building. The second is regarding all the other components needed to run the system. Finally, we must ask whether this is a worthwhile investment.

Let’s find out!

How large a building do you need to power?

An important factor to consider is how many solar panels you will need to harvest enough energy for your building. If you are running a full-scale factory, obviously you need a large Solar Panels on Pitched Roofnumber of solar panels to collect sufficient solar energy.

However, you may simply be considering a solar power system for your two-bedroom home. In such a case, fewer solar panels will be needed. It’s different for everyone. Find out from an expert how many panels and batteries are needed to power YOUR premises.

Are solar panels all you need?

Another thing to consider is that panels are not the only components to a solar power system. You will also need to factor in the cost of the inverter, and the batteries needed to store the energy. Remember that larger buildings may require larger—if not more—batteries than a smaller building.

Then there’s the cost of installation. You want to make sure it’s done right. A system that is not properly installed will prove useless and ultimately be a waste of money.

So you have to established how many solar panels you need, how much installation will cost, and how much all the other components will cost. Once you have all of these factors down, you can better answer your question.

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Will this provide a viable return on investment?

Here’s something you may not know. Five years ago, it cost South Africans approximately R5.00 per kWh of photovoltaic (solar power) electricity—if you factor in installation and equipment costs. Eskom also charged about R0.50 for the same amount of grid energy during that period. Solar Panels CostFor this reason, it wasn’t exactly a viable option for most of us.

But things have changed drastically since then. Today, solar power systems are way more accessible to the public. Eskom’s energy prices have now more than doubled, but the cost of solar power has dropped to 20% of what it used to be.

This has massive implications. Not only does solar energy now cost LESS than grid energy, but Eskom’s prices are ever increasing. It goes without saying that the next five years hold more price increases than we are prepared for. Solar energy is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.

So how much does one solar panel cost?

To answer our initial question, one solar panel can cost anywhere between R100 and R4 500 rand in South Africa. These prices depend on the Watt-factor of a solar panel. A 10W panel can go for about R150, whereas a 250W panel is closer to R4000.

These prices are also likely to vary over the next few years, and will certainly vary between various suppliers. Some companies provide higher quality solar panels than others too, but the above price is a fairly reliable ballpark to work on.

The cost of all other components is where the real cost comes in. Inverters can cost up to R8 000. Battery banks come in all shapes and sizes, and the price will depend on how much energy you need to store. Installation and integration is usually over R20 000 if done by a reputable company.

Solar Panels on Garage RoofThese prices may seem high at first, but as we’ve seen; a solar power system ultimately SAVES you money. It’s an investment worth making if we want to survive the inevitable price hikes from Eskom.

Above all, don’t get frightened by the prices of solar panels until you know how much it will cost to power YOUR OWN property. It’s likely that you can get away with fewer solar panels and batteries to power your home than you think. The very fact that you are asking these questions is a good sign that you’re moving in the right direction.

What are the components of a solar power system?

Ever wondered how a solar power system works? In order to understand these systems better, it helps to learn about the different parts they are made up of. Once you see how all these components work together, you will recognize the benefits of owning such a system for your home or business.

There are four main components to a solar power system. These include:

  • A solar panel (the collection point)
  • A DC junction box (the transport of the electric current)
  • An inverter (the conversion of that current into useable electricity)
  • And a battery (storage of the electricity)

Let’s look at each of these aspects of a solar power system more closely.

The solar panel

As most of us know, the solar panel is where it all begins. Panels are exposed to direct sunlight so that maximum solar exposure is reached. When the sun beats down on the panels, these panels collect what’s known as photons. But how does this translate into useable power?

Solar Panels on RoofThere are multiple cells in a single solar panel. These cells are designed to transform photons into electrons. These moving photons must be transformed into DC power (direct current power). We are now moving closer to having a form of energy we can actually use. But first, another component is needed to turn our harvested sunlight into an electric current.

The DC junction box

This component of a solar power system can be seen as a collector of DC power. A DC cable runs between the solar panels and the DC junction box, transporting a current created by the moving photons and electrons. This direct current must be converted into AC power (alternate current power). AC power is a form of power that can then be stored or used to power a building. When DC power has entered the junction box, it pushes this current out to the next step of the process.

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The inverter

This is where the main conversion in a solar power system takes place. An inverter transforms DC power into AC power. An alternate current is much the same as grid electricity that is manufactured by Eskom. The difference here is that this energy was not produced by a massive power station down the road. We also know that this power did not require tons of coal to be burnt up so that electricity could be generated.Solar Power System

No. It’s all natural energy that’s been repurposed into the same form of electricity we are all familiar with. And this is all done by a little device called the inverter. This device is connected between the DC junction box and the power storage device—which brings us to the next crucial component.

The battery

The final stage of a solar power system is the storage device that collects all this electricity. The battery is an essential component because if all this power isn’t stored up for later use, it will simply go to waste. As home owners, we tend to use way more power during the night—at a time when there is no sunlight. Therefore, the battery serves as a means to build up this energy and provide it as you need.

We find the battery between the inverter and the home itself. Most solar power systems are installed to accommodate the battery within the building. From here, the user can monitor how much power is being used. The user can also gauge whether or not there is enough power to last  for a period where the panels will not be exposed to the sun.

One last component

There is actually one more component in a solar power system: YOUR BUILDING. The electricity is now useable. Your battery is connected to your home or business and allows you to power your electric devices free of charge. That’s right. No one owns the sun, and harvesting solar energy is completely free. You don’t even need a license or a special permit to use a resource that belongs to everyone.

Fitting Solar Panels

 

 

Solar power system summary

We know now that four essential components make up a conventional solar power system.

    • The first is the solar panel which collects photons.
    • The photons move rapidly and create electrons which flow through a DC junction box and into the inverter.
    • The inverter transforms the direct current into an alternate current, which is then collected and stored in the battery.

It’s an ingenious system that is becoming more and more accessible to all South Africans. So… when are you getting yours?

How Does a Solar Power System Work?

When South Africans look into renewable energy for their home or business, they often question the functionality of such a system. Let’s take a quick, simple look at how a basic solar power system in South Africa works to provide you with electricity.

How do solar panels create electricity?

One cell within a solar panel creates a tiny bit of electricity—not nearly enough to even power a mini globe. That’s why solar panels consist of MANY of these cells. Collectively, they can convert and store enough energy to run an entire household.

When these cells are exposed to sunlight, they convert photons into electrons. Because the Solar Power for Homesphotons from the sunlight are continually piercing the cells, they ‘push’ these electrons on an ongoing basis. It’s this process that creates kinetic energy which can then be stored into a battery—or directly power an appliance or light.

This explanation describes conventional solar panels—those that are most common among homeowners. But many don’t realise that there is much research and development taking place in solar power systems. This is resulting in different renewable energy technologies, and it won’t be long before these become available to the public. Inevitably, this will eventually mean better harvesting of solar energy, and at a lower cost. The industry is ever-evolving; which is cause for much excitement for us South Africans who need these systems.

Components that work well together

As we’ve seen, a solar panel is an ingenious device that converts sunlight into electricity. But no matter how many solar panels you have, these would not be able to power your home unless the sun was shining. So what about rainy days? What about night time?

Fortunately, solar panels work together with another clever device—one we are all familiar with: a battery! When you possess a solar power system, your home is actually being run directly from a stored collection of power contained in such a battery. These batteries are approximately the size of a car battery, but some are up to four times larger. The system must work this way or else it will not work at all. There will be times when the sun is at its brightest, Solar Panels on Carportand you will not need electricity. There will also be times when there is no sun at all, and probably then when you will need electricity the most.

An inverter is another device that forms part of a properly-working solar system. The energy must be converted from kinetic energy into storable electricity. The inverter makes this happen, acting as a go-between for the solar panels and the battery.

So as you can see, a solar power system cannot effectively work without an accompanying battery. The two go hand in hand to provide your home with round-the-clock energy regardless of the weather or time of day. Many of these systems also provide a ‘fallback’ switch. This simply means that if your power runs out (sometimes because of several consecutive days of rain), your home falls back onto Eskom’s grid power.

Strategic positioning of solar panels

In order for solar panels to be most effective, they must be placed in intelligent locations. Your home’s roof is likely to be the one place that receives the most amount of sun exposure. Remember, those photons need to keep penetrating the cells in order to push the electrons continually. Therefore, the longer your solar panels remain exposed to the sun, the more energy they will create.

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The direction these panels face is also of importance. Skilled installers are clued up on where to place solar panels so that maximum exposure is attained. If you want a quicker and larger return on investment, your panels must be installed properly and intelligently.

This isn’t just true for home owners. Companies have specialised needs when it comes to solar system installation. Factories often find Solar Panels in Gardenthemselves in peculiar locations. Working out where and how the sun will shine the most (all year round), will determine how much power that company manages to store. Farms are also specialized. There are often too many solar panels needed to power a large farm to fit them onto a roof. Installers must be creative about where so many panels should be placed in order to maximise efficiency.

Is solar power efficient?

So, is solar power an efficient alternative to grid energy? From what we’ve seen, ABSOLUTELY! Multiple cells fit into one solar panel and it only takes a few solar panels to power a medium size house. We also learnt that solar panels are only effective if coupled with good quality storage devices. Finally, we noticed that if a solar system is installed properly, it will yield better results and provide a higher return on investment for the user. Overall, we can say that if a solar system is bought from and installed by an expert South African company, it is a highly effective way to run your home or business.