Comparing solar power systems for your home

Selecting the perfect solar power system for your home can be an extremely daunting task for the average person. It is often quite difficult to sift through the many biased advertisements that promote specific products and find authentic information that can guide you in making the right decision.


With Eskom’s continuous struggles and the annoyance of load shedding, more and more South Africans have decided to turn towards solar powered homes. South Africa’s solar power potential is one of the highest in the world, averaging more than 2,500 hours of sunshine a year. The total radiation that reaches the land area amounts to roughly 1 kilowatt per square metre at noon on a sunny day, which is more than double the solar radiation output of Europe.


Three major types of Solar Power Systems


The three major types of Solar Power Systems that can be used for home or office use include the Stand-alone Solar System, the Grid-connected Solar System and the Hybrid Solar System.

The first decision to make when deciding on a solar home system is which option best suits your desired need.


Stand-alone Solar Power System


Also known as Off-grid Solar Systems, these systems operate independently from the grid (Eskom). During the day the Photovoltaic (PV) System supplies your home with direct power from the solar panels while simultaneously supplying charge to the battery backup system. At night the system automatically switches over to the battery charger inverter system to supply power.


While off-grid solutions are starting to become a realistic financial possibility, grid-connected Solar Power Systems are still much more common around South Africa.


Typical off-grid solar systems require the following additional components:


  • Battery Bank
  • Solar Charge Controller
  • Off-Grid Inverter
  • DC Disconnect (additional)
  • Backup Generator (additional)


Grid-connected Solar Power System


These systems are designed to operate in conjunction with the grid (Eskom’s power supply). The PV system receives backup power from the utility’s grid when it isn’t producing enough power itself.

The inverter converts the DC power produced by the PV panels into AC power, which is consistent with the voltage and power quality requirements of the grid. Power supply to the grid is automatically stopped when the utility grid is not energised.

Although Eskom will not pay you for surplus electricity generated, and grid-connected systems won’t save you from load shedding, the generation of electricity should help to reduce your electricity bill.

Typical grid-connected solar systems rely on the following components:

  • Power Meter
  • Grid-Tie Inverter (GTI) or Micro-Inverters


Hybrid Solar System


Hybrid solar systems, also known as on-grid solar with battery storage, combines the best of stand-alone and grid-connected solar systems. They can be described either as grid-connected with extra battery storage or as off-grid with utility backup.

Charged Battery Banks make it possible for you to still have electricity, even during power cuts!


Considering that Eskom does not pay you for surplus electricity generated, combining energy storage with a grid-connected system makes it possible for you to store excess energy generated during the day, allowing it to then be used at night or during load shedding.


Typical hybrid solar systems include the following additional components:


  • Battery Bank
  • Charge Controller
  • Battery-Based Grid-Tie Inverter
  • Power Meter
  • DC Disconnect (additional)


If you still have any further questions about solar power homes, please do not hesitate to contact Soventix here.


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