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 to install 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 last energy bill. How many kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day does your home typically use? Alternatively, estimate your usage by using our online calculator, which can be download for free here. The calculator provides you with a spreadsheet (the second Excel sheet) that will help you calculate your daily usage. Knowing your daily usage will help to determine how many solar panels your home will need to make the largest impact on reducing your energy bills. The calculator will assist you in selecting the right size of the system.
Have a look at your roof: Have a look at your roof and determine the direction and angle of your roof. Assess whether there is any shade on your roof, 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, but sometimes having half you 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 (although around 35 degrees is the magic number). Your roof should be large and strong enough to hold all the panels you want to buy. If your roof is not ideal, you can also use a ground mounting system.
Pick the type of solar PV 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 back up 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 for example 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 in determining roughly what size of a solar PV system would be best for you, also depending on your budget of course. After calculating your daily usage, the first worksheet will assist you. You fill in your daily usage, the size of solar panel you want to use (at SunStore we have panels ranging from 300 to 430 Wp), the number of hours you would like to have power backup, and the Voltage of the battery (24 or 48 Volts). Based on these results, have a look at the SunStore Complete PV kits, which we offer with or without installation.
Look for financing options: If you need financing for your Solar PV System, there are several options available. The cheapest form of finance would be through a current home loan, but there are other possibilities, for example, https://www.rental.co.za or https://greenfin.co.za; SunStore can assist you with applying for finance for your Solar PV system.
Pick a solar contractor: Pick/contact your solar installer. In the step above, if you have opted for a SunStore PV kit with installation, we will do an assessment together with one of our accredited installers (Gauteng only for now).
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.
Enjoy the Sun!
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