9 Easy Steps towards getting Solar for your home
With the ongoing load shedding, the energy price increases, the dropping costs for solar components and the need to do something about climate change, more and more homeowners in South Africa are looking to go solar. Here are the key steps to take for installing the best PV system for your home:
- Reduce your energy usage where you can: One of the smart things to do before installing a solar PV system is to reduce your energy usage where you can, by using energy-efficient fridges, using LED light bulbs, cooking on gas, etcetera. Look at your current usage (Step 2) and see how you can reduce your usage with some simple measures.
- Know your energy usage: Take a look at your electricity bills. How many kilowatt-hours (kWh) / units per day does your home typically use? Alternatively, estimate your usage by using our online calculator, which you can download for free here. The calculator provides you with a spreadsheet (the second sheet) that will help you calculate your daily usage. Knowing your daily usage will help determine how many solar panels your home will need. The calculator will assist you in selecting the proper size of your system. Please contact us if you would like us to do an energy audit.
- Have a look at your roof to determine the direction and angle. Assess whether there is any shade on your roof at any time of the day, e.g. from trees. What is your roof size, and is it strong enough? You could use a free compass app on your phone to determine the direction of your roof or have a look at the Google satellite image of your house. North-facing roofs receive the most sunlight in South Africa. However, sometimes having half your panels facing East and half your panels facing West (see this blog post) can also be a good option. Solar panels can be installed on roofs with a 0 to 45-degree angle (+/- 35 degrees is the magic number for SA). Your roof should be large and strong enough to hold all the panels you want to buy. According to the regulations, there needs to be sufficient space between the panels and roof edges; you also need to account for space between the panels for ventilation. For flat roofs, an angled mounting system can be installed. If your roof is not ideal, you can also use a ground mounting system.
- Pick your type of system: Do you want to be grid-connected, completely off-grid, or do you want power backup only? Adding a battery storage system to your new solar electric system can keep your home running on solar even overnight or during load shedding. You can also opt for a backup system only to have power back up during load shedding.
- Determine whether you can deliver excess electricity to the grid. This is not yet common in South Africa, but the City of Cape Town can get you credit for the excess electricity returned to the grid. See: https://savingelectricity.org.za/pv-renewables/
- Decide on the size of your Solar PV system: Our calculator can help you determine roughly what size of a solar PV system would be best for you, also depending on your budget. After calculating your daily usage, the first worksheet of the calculator will assist you. You enter your daily usage, the size of solar panel you want to use (click here for SunStore's solar panels), the number of hours you would like to have power backup, and the battery's voltage (24 or 48 Volts). Based on these results, look at the SunStore Complete PV kits, which we offer with or without installation.
- Consider financing options: If you need financing for your Solar PV System, several options are available. The cheapest form of finance would be through a current home loan, but there are other possibilities. SunStore can assist you with applying for finance for your Solar PV system. Have a look at our Finance page to see what is possible.
- Pick a solar contractor: Pick/contact your solar installer. In the steps above, if you have opted for a SunStore PV kit with installation, we will do an assessment together with one of our accredited installers. Make sure your contractor is registered with the relevant authorities, has plenty of proven experience, will issue a CoC (click here for more info), etc.
- Decide on the components: Together with your installer, make the final decision on your Solar PV components. At SunStore, we believe that high-quality components will be cheaper in the long run. Sometimes it is wiser to opt for a smaller system with higher quality components, which you could expand in the future. For more information on how to compare solar quotes, click here.
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