With the current situation in regards to power supply in South Africa, moving towards renewable energy is the only option for a reliable solution.
The country has an average of more than 2500 hours of sunshine a year, with the surface area receiving approximately 1 kilowatt per square metre at midday on a sunny day. This is almost more than double the solar radiation output experienced by most of Europe.
Going solar is always a great idea but it does take a little bit of leg work to do properly. And while this research and analysis may seem daunting at first, there are experts available to assist you in the planning this requires.
Things to Consider Before Going Solar
Photovoltaic solar panels consist of a series of cells that work to convert sunlight directly into electricity. This is known as a direct current. Essentially, the sunlight (or photons) strikes the surface of the semi-conductor material (usually silicon) and then the cell absorbs the energy and dislodges electrons from the atoms. Certain chemicals are added to the composition to help create a path for the freed electrons to ultimately create an electrical current.
- Panels that are connected in such a way as to provide higher power supply
- Storage batteries that store the electricity, which is generated through the solar panels
- Charge controller or regulator that will prevent excessive discharge or overcharging
- DC-AC inverter to convert the direct current into alternating current for appliances
There are two types of solar power systems that can be used in a home or business, these are stand-alone systems designed to operate independently from Eskom and grid-connected solar power systems that operate in conjunction with the national grid.
Determining the Size You Require
If you’ve got quite a large roof area then an option is to just buy as many solar panels as you can afford off the bat and then simply sequentially add panels to the system over time. Eventually you can end up with a fully operational solar panel system for your roof-area without bankrupting yourself to do it. If you wish to get off the grid then there are a few steps for finding out how many solar panels exactly you require in order to accommodate 100% of the energy used in your home.
- Compile a list of all the appliances used in your home and estimate how many watts each requires and how many hours in the day that you use each one.
- Multiply the total watts by the hours used for each appliance and then add up all of the total sums to get a snapshot of your power requirements daily.
- Now you can determine the average amount of hours where there is sunlight for your solar panels a day.
- Now divide the total sum of your home’s daily watts and the average amount of sunlight hours. If you have 3000 watts required per day and 4.3 hours of sunlight, this means that you will need at least 698 watts of solar panels to power your house.
It’s important to work with professionals to get an expert opinion on your requirements. Try to get comparative input and quoting to ensure that you’re getting objective feedback. Otherwise you may overspend or get the wrong equipment entirely. At the end of the day, going solar is always worth it, to reduce your dependency on the grid and increase the reliability of your power supply as a South African. Not to mention it’s great for the environment and showcases a commitment to moving away from traditional power supply using fossil fuels.