Retailed Solar Products | LessWatts

Retailed solar products - what you need to know
Pitfalls to be aware of

South Africans are renowned for being tenacious and counts under the most resourceful when it comes to the implementation of solutions to complex problems.

With the latest bout of electricity outages it is therefore not surprising that the number of DIY solar implementations drastically increased. We can see this in the number of queries and requests coming from the public. Viewed from the perspective that we do not run active advertising campaigns, speaks volumes about the interest in solar power as a solution to stem the inconvenience caused by solar outages.

DIY Solar

The mechanics of a solar system is extremely simple. Connection of wiring and the physical mounting of solar modules can be done by most ebaled body people. 

A major driver for DIY projects is the common perception that one can save money when going it yourself. With solar products being pricey, it is a valid consideration.

Why solar power?

The question begs, why solar power as a solution. This viewed from the perspective that a small generator is much cheaper than a solar power system wit reasonable quality equipment. The reasons can be found in some of, or a combination of the following aspects: 

  • One major factor and most probably the biggest advantage is the ample amount of sunshine we have in South Africa.
  • Solar power is quiet. With diesel or small generators, there is the constant noise that one needs to deal with. For many this is a limiting factor, especially if wide spread usage is the norm.
  • Limited running cost. The cost to operate a solar power system is extremely small compared to running a generator which gulps up large amounts of fuel.  Compared to a generator with an operating cost of as much as ZAR 13 per kWh, solar power can have a cost for as small as ZAR 2.5 per kWh over its life span. To top it all, this includes the capital outlay of the system whereas the cost for running a generator oly includes the fuel cost. Maintenance for a solar system is also small compared to the maintenance of a fuel powered generator. Many people do not have the know-how to service  generator and then there is the used oil and replaced parts than needs to be discarded of.
  • Low emissions by solar power plants makes it an ideal solution for wide spread implementation in urban locations.
  • Energy security offers increased property value.

Factors to consider and skills required for solar power implementation

This blog post is not intended to look at each of the mentioned items or the condsiderations in detail, a couple of factors to consider for a successfully implement of a solar power plant, are :

Factors to consider:

  • The amount of energy the system needs to deliver.
  • The maximum power the system needs to deliver.
  • Scheduling of power delivery and alignment with power consumption.
  • The amount of autonomy that is required when power is unavailable.
  • Technical energy balances that may influence the system design.
  • Configuration and integration fo equipment. Modern solar power systems need to have some kind of communication mechanism amongsth products to make the system function properly.

DIY or Contracted installation

Solar power at scaly, let's say for systems larger than a camping system, needs special attention. Solar power modules connected together can deliver lethal voltages and most people underestimate the danger of DC voltage shorts. At least not until one has experienced a DC arc from a solar array.

Mechanical for mounting systems onto a roof or car port needs to consider the substructure characteristics, such as beam spans, pitch of the roof and substructure material.

Retail channel availability of products

It has become common lately for retail electrical outlets to stock solar power products. This allows for ordinary citizens to buy products over the counter with an undertaking to get an electrician to install the product, or an intention to do it themselves.

Generally over the counter goods are targeted at high volume, low priced products. This goes without saying that the products with long manufacturer warrantees would not be available over the counter.

Consideration needs to be given to after sales support, especially when configuration actions need to be performed on the various equipment. Now, when one procures products from various suppliers, this may pose a challenge in terms of product knowledge.

It may be a good idea to procure an implementation service from a solar power installed to assist with the niggly aspects of the configuration.

The is require dilligence from the consumer and people need to educate themselves properly in order to make the right decision.

Leverage off 10-years' solar experience and get a quote today for your solution.

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