As an alternative to generators, the topic of the previous article, we now look to the sun for help. The next three articles explain different ways of setting up a solar system, how it works, the implications for when you use electricity and estimated costs and financing options. In the two systems discussed below, the home is still connected to the main power grid. Going off-grid is a big step, you can read more here.
These are solar systems in which access to the grid is maintained and municipal power still available, is the most financially viable solar solution. Energy produced by the solar panels flows seamlessly during daylight hours to supplement municipal usage. The power produced is consumed instantly. Hybrid solar systems These are solar power systems that combine grid-tied and off-grid with a municipal grid connection. Batteries that are charged by solar power are used to either be:
These are solar power systems that combine grid-tied and off-grid with a municipal grid connection. Batteries that are charged by solar power are used to either be:
Figure 1 depicts the difference between a grid-tied and hybrid solar system.
Grid-tied solar systems only produce maximum electricity when the sun is shining. Rain and bad weather will result in a greatly reduced amount of solar irradiation and less electricity being generated. This will result in more electricity being used from the municipality’s supply.
Figure 2 shows an ideal bell curve of solar power over a day (left). The right graph shows the actual power during clear, rain and overcast conditions. It is important to be aware of the actual variations and possibly shift loads. If activities like washing and drying can be shifted to days of better sunshine, it will help to maximise the solar savings.
Solar is a clean renewable source of energy. But not everyone can – where you live in the country and how much space you have for panels could be limiting factors. It’s also more beneficial to use solar power when the sun is shining. It’s all explained in the next article.
Ready to invest in a power or water saving solution for your home? If you’re an SA Home Loans client, we'll help you finance it through your home loan.
Our full guide to SUSTAINABLE ENERGY & WATER is available for you to download, absolutely free
Cost estimates provided in the Sustainable Living in South Africa series of articles are approximate and valid at the time of publication.