Solar In a Nutshell


Purchasing a Solar System for your home or business can be a daunting experience, with every installer singing a different tune as to what it is that will be needed to suit your needs. Often installers and Sales people do not have the necessary knowledge about system designs, or lack product knowledge, giving the ''Industry'' a bad name as the client now believes that ''Solar does not work''.

People (and Google) tend to over complicate things when it comes to Solar Power. So below we have tried to simplify things slightly.

There are four main groups of Systems:

1. Grid-Tie

These systems have the lowest cost per kWp (Kilo Watt Peak) installed of the four, because NO batteries are used. This also means that Grid-Tie Systems are almost maintenance FREE. The Grid-Tie system works parallel to the utility grid , exactly as the name indicates, and are the most popular systems for businesses. Installation is non intrusive, as power supply to the property is interrupted only for a short time period, while the final connections are being done.

Once the Grid-Tie Inverter synchronizes with the Utility grid, it then starts feeding power into your property's electrical network, thus reducing your consumption from the Utility grid, resulting in savings on your electrical bill.These systems are completely scalable, with systems ranging from 1kWp (Kilo Watt Peak) to 200kWp (Kilo Watt Peak) on our standard price lists and custom designed systems up to 20MWp(Mega Watt Peak).

The main components in Grid Tie systems are:

Grid Tie Inverter (Single or Three Phase)
Solar Panels
Protection & Control Distribution Boards (AC and DC)

The down side of these systems are that when the utility grid fails, the system will stop working completely until the grid power returns. The ROI (Return on Investment) on these systems range between 3 and 6 years, depending on the rate per kWh (Kilo Watt Hour) in your area and whether you finance the system or not.

When is a Grid Tie system the correct product for you?

A. The Bulk of your power consumption is during the day.
B. You never want to add batteries to your system (should you want to add batteries at a later stage, look into the Hybrid systems).
C. You purely want a savings solution.

2. Off-Grid

These are by far the most expensive option of the four, because big banks of batteries are used to ensure that you have power when there is no or little sun. These systems are generally designed to make you completely independent from the Utility Grid. We do advise that, should you have your Utility Power removed, a backup generator be added to the solution to help you through the heavy rainy weeks

The main components in Off-Grid systems are:

Off-Grid Inverter & MPPT Charge Controllers or Hybrid Inverter
Solar Panels
Protection & Control Distribution Boards (AC and DC)
Batteries

These systems are extremely expensive due to the cost of batteries. ROI on these systems vary greatly, depending on the technology of batteries used, rate per kWh (Kilo Watt Hour), line rental fees and whether or not you finance the system, it could be between 4 and 10 years.

When is an Off-Grid system the correct product for you?

A. Your Line rental fees make up more than 30% of your electric bill
B. No Utility line is available to the property
C. You want complete independence from the Utility Grid

3. Hybrid Systems

These systems can be divided into sub categories.

3.1 Grid Tie first, Batteries later
This setup gives you the savings of a Grid Tie System to start with and batteries for power failures can be added later .

3.2 Batteries first, Panels Later
If you are looking for a UPS type of solution to start with and want the option of adding panels for saving later, then this is the option for you.

3.3 Grid Tie with Batteries
Have the best of both worlds. Savings and the Convenience of battery backup.

3.4 Grid Support
With this setup we can use the batteries for savings in peak power times (should you be billed on a time of use rate) or we can supplement the utility grid with battery power to reduce your consumption to 0 without installing a massive battery bank like we would in a Off-Grid scenario. We do however recommend that this setup only be done with lithium batteries.

4. Solar Pumps
The most affordable way to pump water. We are often asked why we don't use battery systems to pump water and our response is also the same: One battery costs as much as a 5 000Lt tank or a 10 000Lt Lined Corugated Dam, so it makes more sense to store water than to store power. The only time we recommend a battery solution is when a pressure pump is needed for home use.

4.1 DC Borehole Pumps
We only use high quality machine wound brush-less DC motors in our DC Borehole Pump range which means that you never have to service our DC motor, unlike our competitors.
Our centrifugal pump design ensures maximum water delivery and deals better with slightly dirty water much better than positive displacement pumps.
The controller for the pump system comes with a LCD display and fault messages telling you exactly where the problem is, no more guessing what the flashing error light means. Dry run protection is built in, no need to install probes. Every DC Pump kit is supplied with a protection DB to ensure we protect the controller against over current from the solar panels. Generator backup is an optional add on with these systems.

4.2 VSD Pumps
Our AC Control box has built in DC protection, AC disconnects and is designed in to be plug and play with an appliance inlet for generator connection and an appliance outlet to connect the pump. Although more expensive, we can convert any single or three phase motor to run from solar, from 0.37kW to 600kW. This also means that you can either purchase a full kit from us to suit your pumping requirements or if you have an existing pump, we can supply you with a conversion kit. These systems are the more popular choice for the outlying areas as you do not require a special motor. If a pump motor fails, you can replace it with a similar unit from your local pump shop.

4.3 Solar Booster Pumps

So you bought a solar borehole pump that is supplying you water into a tank, but now you need water pressure in your home.. well not to worry, we also supply solar booster pumps that come with battery backup for water use at night. These are not stock items but are readily available on request.