Converting to solar has its challenges, but everyone who has already done it, will tell you that they wish they had done it sooner. The biggest up front challenge is that it is a substantial initial outlay by anyone’s standards. Best practice is to convert what you can to other forms of power. Gas and solar geysers, gas stoves will reduce your reliance on your national power utility. Once you have taken these small steps, you realise just how you as a consumer have been at the whims of a monopoly that has let their customers down by pure ignorance and mismanagement at the highest level.
A hybrid system is the ultimate in getting off the grid. It allows for running your business or household during the day whilst charging and very importantly equalising your Freedom Won Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries for their nigh time stint. When you do have a few days of persistent rain, the MPPT then looks for grid power when it knows that there is no PV and not enough battery life left. You have the best of all worlds…….unless of course the power at that point is being load shedded. Our experience shows us that most hybrid systems use between 8 and 2% Eskom power during the course of a year.
There are some standard packages available that will give you an indication as to what you can expect to pay (www.green-grid.co.za/solar) for a system, but you really want to do this properly, it is a big investment and one that will last over two decades if it is done properly.
This brings on the most crucial part of the solar system. You need to size it according to the peaks and dips in your day time and nighttime loads. Every household and business is different, equipment that draws lots of start up current, like fixed speed compressor air conditioners, as opposed to newer inverter technology. All of these things make each site unique and these need to be catered for.
A data logger is a basic requirement in properly sizing a solar system, or any power system for that matter. It needs to be attached to your main DB and it should stay there for a week so that a full cycle of voltages as well as peaks and dips are recorded. This also needs some though in terms of when in the month it is fitted. A fast food outlet for example, is far busier over weekends and after pay day, so that would be the right time to fit it!
Seasonal information also needs to be considered. If you are logging in summer, you need to take into account that there are fewer daylight hours in winter and size the system accordingly. A 265W panel can give you up to 1.8kw in summer and down to about 0.8kw in winter.
A grid-tie system is the most cost-effective. Ideal for businesses that have large amounts of roof space to install PV panels and who operate mostly during daylight hours, you cannot beat this option for cost! very low maintenance and high ROI. It is CRUCIAL to note that a grid-tie system also goes down when the grid goes down, as it uses the Eskom grid as a reference. The grid-tie system DOES NOT give you power when the grid/load shedding occurs.
For residential purposes, lifestyle changes may come into the equation, running washing machines when you get home from work will have to change to a daytime exercise but you will reap the rewards.
Going solar is an investment and that cannot be stressed enough, the future of your business depends on having power in most cases. Do not leave this in the hands of a third party when you have access to cheaper and more reliable energy sources. There is now finance available that allows you to cover the cost of the installation at the same rate that you are paying your electricity utility. From the moment your system is installed and operational, you are investing in the future of your business and your family and no longer at the mercy of a collapsing SOE.
invest in yourself