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This article covers the basics of solar panels and hopefully will answer most of the questions we get asked from our clients – I also believe a more informed customer will have a better understanding of what they want from a solar installation, what is practical or if they even need solar panels.
What are solar panels?
Solar panels are essentially the component of a solar energy system used to produce energy or heat. Photovoltaic (PV) panels are used to convert sunlight into electrical power while solar heating panels use the sun’s heat to heat water for your geysers, pool or house. Currently in South Africa Solar water heating panels are the most widely used because of savings on energy-hungry geysers but the PV Solar Panel market is increasing rapidly due to drop in the price of solar power systems and the increase in Eskom’s grid power prices and unreliable infrastructure?
In this article I’m going to focus on electrical power generation PV Panels.
Solar panel power rating vary from 5W up to 350W
Solar panels have been around for quite some time and were invented by Edmond Becquerel, in 1893 although not made of silicone like today panels it was the start of the solar PV revolution, The first silicone solar panels like we use today was invented in 1941 by Russel Ohl
Solar panels first real application was to power satelites in space
Why should I install solar panels?
Reduce your monthly electricity spend with Eskom :)
With the increase in tarriffs from Eskom your return on solar panel investment will be quicker than ever before the price of power from Eskom will continually go up and if you factor this in solar panels become an even more attractive option.
Great return on your investment - solar panels produce power for 30+ years - Solar panels produce free electricity so your investment will always payed back.
Increase your property value - home improvements add value this includes solar panels. Private properties will installing solar panel increase my property value
Save the planet one panel at a time
A personal favourite and a good reason, especially in South Africa, is being able to boil a kettle, watch TV or listen to the radio when your neighbours can’t.
“Load shedding again”:( Eskom chairman warns of load-shedding
How many solar panels do I need?
We are almost always asked this and how much will it cost. It’s like asking how much food you need to eat. Well, it depends on how hungry you are.
So how hungry is your household? We would need an engineer to visit your house and determine how much power you use and what your peak power usage is to customise a system that suits your needs and budget.
If you use 15kW of power a day and only have a peak usage of 3kW – 10 to 12 - 320/365KW panels should have you covered.
Getting the right amount of panels
Most professional solar installers/suppliers will first assess your power usage by checking your municipal account to get your average power usage. For a more accurate reading and peak usage they will install a power watt meter for at least a week. (Some installers may charge for this)
What can you run on solar power?
Solar panels will be able to run most small appliances and lights.
Most heating appliances will be eliminated from the PV Solar panel system although a big enough PV system will be able to run stoves, geysers and heaters, this system is generally too expensive.
Customers who want to go off the grid as much as possible would be recommended to use solar or gas geysers, gas stoves and ovens.
Solar geysers are cheaper to install than the amount of PV solar panels it would take to heat them.
Cost of solar panels
Panels with the same rating also vary in price from manufacturer, quality, lifespan and aesthetics. (People always pay more for good looks)
Solar Deals supplies solar products from Canada, China, Europe and the States (we supply locally held stock)
Most panel manufactures will give a manufacturer/s warranty on defective product as well as a performance warranty.
Check out the top 10 Worldwide Solar panel manufacturers
1 Trina Solar China
2 JA Solar China
3 Hanwha Q Cells South Korea
4 JinkoSolar China
5 Motech Solar Taiwan
6 First Solar USA
7 Longi Lerri China
8 Canadian Solar Canada
9 Yingli Solar China
10 Suntech China
Note - not all products made in china are junk
Solar Panels and South African Weather - Hail
Most panels are tested to withstand moderate hail storms and should stand up well in an average hail storm. No panel manufacturers offer warranty from damage caused by hail.
Check with your insurance provider if they cover solar panels
Hail Damage Claim Santam - Insurance Cover for Hail Damage | Santam
Solar Panel Maintenance
Solar panels don't require a great deal of maintenance but to keep them running at an optimal performance they should be checked for debri, bird droppings Hadeda and generally kept clean like you would your windows.