FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. IS SOLAR POWER SUITABLE FOR MY HOME?
This is one of the first questions we hear at Solar Dynamix. Is my house compatible with Solar Power devices? Will it work for me? What about obstructions from nearby trees or buildings? Well, if you are a homeowner or someone who has written permission to install from his or her landlord, you have passed the first step. If you live in a townhouse complex or similar cluster, you will need to get written permission from the body corporate as well to install solar panels. If you have a solid roof and not something such as a thatched roof, you have passed the next step. You will then need to measure out your roof and identify whether it is north, west or east facing. You should have at least 14 to 15 square metres for solar power to be beneficial. If any one of these directions provides ample light and space for panels that can be firmly affixed, then you have passed the final step in assessing whether or not Solar Power is suitable for your house.
Don’t worry about the weight! The system weighs only 15kg/m2. If this is a problem however, our assessors can have a look and propose solutions. Generally speaking though, roofs should have no trouble bearing the weight of your savings! Remember, the ideal situation for Solar Power is a north facing roof with a 30 degree tilt that has no obstacles. East, west and flat facing roofs, however, may also still be considered but with slightly less output of energy. We will help you to find the right solution and placement where you could generating kilowatts of power quickly and efficiently.
2. ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOLAR POWER SYSTEMS?
There are two different types of solar power, one for heating up geysers and other thermal needs and one for generating electricity. The latter is known as Photovoltaics or PV for short.
3. HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ME TO INSTALL?
We have done installations of all sizes, however, we have seen that the average client spends about R25, 000 to R35, 000 per kilowatt peak (kWp). A kWp refers to the value of power generated by a panel under standard laboratory conditions. In South Africa this is roughly 1710 kilowatt hours per year. What is a kilowatt hour? It is simply a unit of measurement referred to on your electricity bill. Typically a kilowatt hour will run a small fridge for 24 hours.
4. HOW LONG WILL THESE PANELS LAST?
Our Solar Panels have a life expectancy of up to 40 years as well as including a manufacturer’s warranty.
5. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) SYSTEM INSTALLED?
This depends on how large a system you want. The larger ones require multiple panels to be installed. Also, we can only install on days that it is not raining. The good news is, we do not require access to the interior of your house or property until the very end when we install the inverter and / or battery pack. Generally, we can have a system installed within a day or two.
6. HOW LONG BEFORE MY SOLAR PANELS HAVE PAID FOR THEMSELVES IN SAVINGS?
This is both a difficult and an easy question to answer. The larger the system you install, the larger the savings in the long run. The initial costs must be weighed up carefully. Solar Power is not a short term solution to energy savings, however, we have noted that installations have paid for themselves within five to eight years on average. Anything after that is pure savings and considering that the life expectancy is 40 years, you are in for a bright future! You can expect on average, between 8% to 15% return on investment per annum. You should also consider the fact that regardless of a return on investment in the electricity bill, solar panels also increase the value of your property in the eyes of prospective buyers! There have been a considerable amount of surveys done here in South Africa and internationally that attest to this fact.
Am I responsible for looking after the panels?
Yes….. Yes you are. The good news, however, is that once the panels are installed, you need only to wipe them down occasionally if they get too dirty to absorb a lot of sunlight. Dirt can hamper energy production by about 10%. However, if they are placed at a steep enough angle, wind and rain should be enough to keep the panels clean, due to the use of self-cleaning glass. You also might want to insure them as they are your liability once they are installed and functioning. We can provide you with an onsite consultation and assessment on how best to install without damaging your roof.
7. HOW DOES IT WORK?
Solar panels will absorb energy during the day regardless of whether it is cloudy or sunny. Obviously the more sun the better in terms of production. This energy is then converted from DC to AC through an inverter and then distributed to the household. If you are producing more energy than you need, you will first charge your back up battery (if you have one) which supplies power in the event of power failures. Once the battery pack is fully charged, excess power gets exported to the national power grid.
8. WHAT IF I DON’T PRODUCE ENOUGH TO POWER MY HOUSE ALL THE TIME?
This is no matter. If you only produce a percentage of what you use, the system automatically draws from the national grid the remaining requirements. For example, at night, when more lights are used and there is no solar activity, you will automatically draw from the national power grid for any power your system lacks.
9. IS SOLAR POWER EFFICIENT?
Yes and no. There are many factors to be taken into account when discussing solar efficiency. Factors such as installation, energy usage, temperature, and the amount of sunshine the panels receive, all play a role in determining solar efficiency. If it is a cloudy day, the panels will still produce electricity, but at a much slower rate compared to a sunny day. Solar irradiance is the power per unit area received from the Sun in the form of electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range of the measuring instrument. South Africa has an annual irradiation of about 2500 kWh per square meter, allowing for efficiency levels of panels to be higher than they would be in Europe with irradiation levels of about 1200 kWh per year. In Europe there are more solar powered buildings and projects than in South Africa, but they still enjoy free electricity even with lower irradiation levels. Greater solar efficiency can be achieved by adding more panels to the array or changing the Wattage output of the panels.