Today, we are quite familiar with solar energy and most know of the different ways to utilize solar energy, though this was not always the case. In ancient times, those from different parts of the world used to worship the sun as a God (in different forms and names). They believed that a solar deity had strengths and powers to ward off all their problems and give them a happy life.
It took many centuries to comprehend the true meaning of their beliefs but finally, humankind understood solar energy and developed various methods and technologies to utilize the power of the sun. Today, those practicing eco-lifestyles use solar energy in different forms, these technologies contribute in a major way to authentic green and eco-lifestyles.
One of the most efficient ways to use solar energy is Photovoltaic Solar Electricity. Photovoltaic solar electricity is the electricity generated directly from sunlight with the help of Photovoltaic solar panels and an inverter.
Sunlight is absorbed by these panels as a source of energy which is then converted into electricity. A photovoltaic solar panel constitutes the arrangement of photovoltaic cells which lead to the generation and supply of photovoltaic solar electricity in residential as well as commercial applications.
Different Ways to Generate Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Electricity
Photovoltaic solar electricity is implemented in a home in various ways. Here is a summary:
Rooftop Photovoltaic (PV) System: This is where the photovoltaic solar panels are installed on the rooftop of the home. These are commonly addressed as “PV panels mounted on the roof”.
Standalone Photovoltaic (PV) System: A standalone photovoltaic system is installed somewhere on the property, usually on the ground or in some commercial cases installed on carports.
Hybrid Photovoltaic Solar Electricity System: These are the hybrid power systems which combine the electricity generated from a photovoltaic system with electricity provided from other sources, like the electricity from a power grid, or generated via diesel generators. This enables a constant flow of electricity.
A hybrid PV system functions in association with the power grid. The electricity is provided to the home from both sources; during the day, the home uses its self-generated electricity directly from the PV system and when the sun sets, the other source of electricity such as the power grid is used.
Hybrid Photovoltaic Solar Electricity System including Backup Batteries: When adding backup batteries to the photovoltaic solar electricity system, reliance on the power grid is optimally reduced.
This is the optimal photovoltaic solar electricity system. In such systems, the PV solar electricity and power grid work together to cover the electricity needs of the home. The difference is that batteries are used by this system to store energy during the daytime and this stored electricity is used after sunset. The battery banks vary in size and are charged by photovoltaic solar panels.
After sunset, the backup batteries are used until they reach their lower threshold, at which point, the other electricity source, such as the power grid, supplies the electricity requirement.
Rainwater collected through the aforementioned methods is stored and then pumped to fulfill various non-drinking purposes such as watering the garden, flushing the toilets and washing clothes in a washing machine..
When Surplus Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Electricity is Generated, Sell It!
A good thing with PV solar electricity is that if the electricity generated by our system is more than required, we’re able in many cases to sell it to the power distribution company. Such accumulated credit, goes towards the costs of the electricity required after sunset, and when the backup batteries reach their lower threshold.
Not all electricity distribution companies buy our generated electricity. However, where our generated electricity is bought, this feature makes PV Solar Electricity the optimal system.
What About Load Shedding in Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Electricity Systems?
Where load shedding or power outages apply: Relax! The PV system, with backup batteries, saves the day. Our home uses the stored electricity for most of the load shedding or power outage period.
Designing a Photovoltaic Solar Electricity System
When determining and designing our PV Solar Electricity System, with the engineering supplier and installer we need to take several things into account – but the main thing to take into account is, to not skimp on the number of PV solar panels, or on the number of backup batteries required. However, there is a point where the size and cost of the installation would become impractical.
Take into account: the size of the roof or where the standalone PV solar panels are installed, where the backup batteries are placed and lastly the cost and our budget. Maintain a balance with these factors. By example, where a balance is maintained, the hybrid PV Solar Electricity including the backup Batteries, supply your home and all its appliances, on a twenty four hour basis – and selling excess Solar electricity to the power grid to cover the costs where power grid electricity is used, would result in almost zero monthly electricity costs.
Running Electrical Equipment
We’re able to use the electricity generated from the sun’s rays for running different electrical equipment in the home. This photovoltaic solar electricity would be utilized for running the lights, fans, televisions, laptops, and other appliances in the home.
Running Water Heaters
When following a conventional lifestyle, electric or gas water heaters are used, whereas followers of eco-lifestyles use photovoltaic solar electricity to run water heaters.
Running Hydronic Systems
Hydronic systems are all about getting the desired temperature by circulating water in different parts of a home. To circulate that water, a water pump is required which is usually connected with a home’s power supply. In an eco-friendly home, these pumps are run with photovoltaic solar electricity. Furthermore, the heat pump providing hot or cold water for the Hydronics Radiant Heating and Cooling System, would use the PV Solar electricity.
Various Ways to use Photovoltaic Solar Electricity in A Home
There are many ways to use generated photovoltaic solar electricity in a home. They are:
Benefits of Photovoltaic Solar Electricity
Photovoltaic Solar Electricity has not only changed the way we live, it has also made a positive impact on the environment. Here are some of its benefits:
Investment Benefit of a Photovoltaic Solar Electricity System
If buying a PV system, don’t view the purchase the same way as buying other household appliances, rather view it as an investment. Similar to other investments, we’re able to calculate the ROI (Return on Investment).
The following steps assist in determining PV solar electricity ROI:
1. System’s cost
This is the first step. It’s important to find out what the total cost is when installing the system. Include the cost incurred for the permits, installation, inverter, and PV panels. Take into account, the cost of the backup batteries, the costs of a grid tied system; the amount subsidized if you qualify for such from the government.
2. Energy Generated
This is the next step: find out how much electricity the system generates. This helps in determining how much extra electricity would be required from the distributor.
3. Cost of Electricity
Be aware of the average cost of electricity (per kWh) to help determine the amount of savings per kilowatt-hour of generated electricity. This is easily done by looking through your recent electricity bills.
4. Calculate the Financial Benefits
With the help of the aforementioned information, we’re able to calculate the amount of savings after installing a PV system. Once determined, we’ll know how much electricity is used on a yearly basis.
5. Calculate ROI
Now we calculate the Return on Investment. For example, if the cost of your system is $25,000 and your yearly savings is $4,000, you see a return on your investment in 5+ years.
How to Install A PV Solar Electricity System At Home?
To get such a system installed in your home, you have to first select the seller.
The process of installing a PV system in your home involves the following steps:
These steps are also explained visually
Site Visit by Engineers
After signing the solar contract (whether it is a loan, lease, cash or a power purchase), an engineer visits your home for an evaluation of the home’s electrical status and to ensure that everything is well-suited. He determines what is required for the PV solar electricity system.
Documents and Permits
To install such a system in your home, you are required to go through lots of paperwork. The good thing is that the installer handles these. However, it is always better to be aware of what is happening physically in your home as well as with the paperwork.
After settling on the essential paperwork, you’re able to place the order. The order relates directly to what you decided to install such as the Photovoltaic solar panels, backup batteries, etc. Again, your installer assists with this.
The Installation of Photovoltaic Solar Panels
This is a big and exciting time because the PV system is being installed in your home. The installer places the panels on the roof to maximize absorbing the sun, complete the electrical wiring, and connect the batteries with the panels.
This is the final step and now, the PV solar electricity system is connected with the electric grid enabling using the sun’s energy for your needs. In some regions, a representative from the electricity board or government visits the home to inspect the work done by the installer. With the representative’s permission, the PV system is ready for integrating with the electric grid.
PV Solar Electricity Systems and Design of a Home
Although installing a PV solar electricity system in an existing home is quite easy and the system would work efficiently without causing issues, if your home is designed for a PV solar system, then everything would be organized upfront with the required battery and inverter room. After all, this is what eco-home owners aspire to, that things are fit for purpose and designed as such.
Those who prefer building a green home usually benefit the most because their home is designed with specific focus on an Eco-lifestyle, including the PV systems. The design of the green home includes space and wiring, etc. for a photovoltaic system from the beginning. The following points make this clearer:
- These homes are designed with space especially allotted for the inverter and disconnector near the principle service panel.
- Space is left in the primary service panel to control a power input breaker.
- These homes include pre-wiring or an empty metallic conduit pre-installed from the roof, close to the primary service panel.
- Green homes often have a conduit from the location of the inverter to the primary service panel.
- When a home is designed to accommodate a PV system, space is left in the breaker box to fit a double pole breaker.
- A separate vertical area on the wall to mount the inverter in the home’s mechanical area is allotted in eco-friendly homes.
- These homes are designed so that the distance (wire run) between the array and the inverter is minimum.
- In the beginning, an electric disconnect switch is present in these homes for any future solar electrical system.
- Space is allotted for the backup batteries.
Whether installing a PV solar electricity system in a new house or an existing one, place a label or a sign on the electrical panel door that your home is now SOLAR READY.
Smart Technology and the Photovoltaic Solar Electricity System
Smart technology, no doubt, is easing every sphere of human life and PV systems are now a vital part of life, especially for those practicing an eco-lifestyle.
Smart technology for a PV system involves the home based server hosting the smart technology – used for configuring metrics, metric recording and transmitting the metrics to the connected smart technology service provider, a smartphone, tablet or a laptop which enables configuring the metrics and exposing the current and historical data on the app. These are all internet-enabled.
Moreover, smart technology also efficiently monitors the backup battery’s low threshold as well as the high threshold. This protects the backup batteries by preventing the batteries from draining completely and also stops any charging when the batteries reach the upper threshold. Both essential to extend backup battery life.
As discussed above, PV electricity provides electricity to the home, charges the batteries, and sends the excess electricity being generated by the PV system back to the grid. Yes, all this is also managed by smart technology. Another advantage of smart technology in a PV system is that it determines when maximum electricity is required by a household and supplies solar electricity (directly or from the batteries) instead of electricity directly from the power grid. This not only prevents an extra load on the grid but also possibly saves money by not using grid electricity during peak hours, where such elicits tiered charges.
Smart technology is also beneficial when the batteries reach their lower storage mark. At this time, the system automatically stops and electricity to the house is supplied through the grid. During the day, the system stops taking energy from the backup batteries; the house gets direct electricity from the sun. However, batteries keep on charging and if any extra electricity is generated, it is sent back to the grid. Some distributors provide credits for electricity sent to the grid.
Monitoring of Electricity Generated by PV Systems
The amount of electricity generated by a PV system, how much of it is used by a household, and other important metrics are all monitored by the smart technology and displayed on the App installed on your smartphone, etc.
If the usage is high, this information is available on the app. You’re able to find the root cause of excessive usage and are able to remedy and make adjustments accordingly. Thus, smart technology monitors and assists with managing the system to provide efficient results in the most economical way. These components in combination is the ultimate Photovoltaic Solar Electricity system.
Keeping in mind, the recording of metrics, monitoring and managing capabilities are continuous, and enables your orchestrating for maximum efficiency. Also, that the current and historical data are not stored in the app: This data is stored by a smart technology service provider. The App enables metric configuration and the displaying of metrics.
Are PV Systems Able to Run Every Appliance in a Home?
This question is asked by almost everyone interested in powering their home with a PV solar electricity system. Yes, the PV systems are able to run every appliance in such a home, even the ACs and refrigerators. Commonly, silicon crystalline panels are used in a system but the new and advanced systems use thin-film solar panels whose energy yield is surprisingly higher than the silicon panels.
So, a PV system is primarily for the independence of the homeowner and at the same time saves the environment, even where power outages are experienced. With the declining cost of solar panels and increased awareness of green energy, it’s more and more affordable to install a PV system at home. This is another step towards a greener and eco-lifestyle.
As we move towards a green and eco-lifestyle, we learn more about living self-sustainably.
If we are really concerned about the environment, here are further points for saving on electricity:
- Install LED lights, and purchase LEDs for your desktop monitor and television. Whether we run them on the grid with backup batteries, energy is saved and it’s a positive step towards savings and reducing the environmental carbon footprint.
- Go for appliances that have an Energy Star label. The presence of the label ensures that energy-efficiency guidelines are followed, again beneficial for the grid as well as the backup batteries.
- Do not run two large appliances simultaneously when running from the backup batteries.
There are many other electricity saving tips such as not leaving appliances on standby mode, setting the refrigerator one degree warmer, being efficient while cooking, washing clothes at a lower temperature – and air drying whenever possible.
The good news: Everyone using PV solar electricity systems need not apply electricity saving steps when running off sunlight.
It’s the ultimate dream for every homeowner—being able to produce enough electricity to run your home without ever relying on the grid. The benefits to homeowners are twofold. First, it can significantly reduce your monthly electricity bill. Second, you’ll never be without power. Even if the grid goes down, your appliances and lights will carry on working.
Existing homes can also be retro-fitted with a photo-voltaic system, although this may incur some additional costs. We’ll look at what’s involved, how the system works and what costs and saving you can expect from using such solar power.
What is a photo-voltaic system?
Essentially, photo-voltaic means harnessing the power of the sun and converting it into electricity that can be used to power your home. The system can be independent or work in conjunction with your existing electricity supply. It consists of the following components:
- Solar panels
- An inverter (which converts direct current (DC) power from the solar panels into alternating current (AC) for powering appliances
- Batteries to store electricity which is not used immediately (these are for when the sun isn’t shining)
While there are currently no incentives offered to homeowners who install such a system, this may change in the future. And it may be possible that local councils will purchase electricity back from homeowners as more people install these systems in their homes. In other words, installing a photo-voltaic system in your home will not just save you money, but earn you money too.
What do you need and how does it work?
These are the main components of any photo-voltaic system:
The solar panels are made up of a series of cells that convert the power of the sun into electricity you can use in your home. They are often installed on the roof where they can capture the most sunlight during daylight hours. They are made from semi-conductor materials such as silicon. When light strikes the surface of the panel, the energy penetrates the cells and dislodges electrons from the material’s surface. Chemicals added to the surface of the panel help to create a path for the electrons to travel down. And this is what creates an electrical current.
- DC-AC inverter: This device converts the electrical current into one that can be used to power the appliances in your home.
- Solar storage batteries: Considering our sunny climate it is possible to generate more electricity than you need during the day. In this case, batteries can be used to store the excess electricity generated, ensuring that you have an uninterrupted and constant supply of power whenever you need it.
- Charge controller/regulator: These prevent excessive discharge or overcharging which may damage the storage battery.
The system is a simple but effective way on powering your home for free. But there are two different systems, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Types of Solar Power Systems
Either of these systems is suitable for the home or office. Which one you chose will depend on your needs. They are:
The stand-alone solar power system
This system only consists of two components: the solar panels and the DC/AC converter. It’s a popular choice for powering ventilation fans, water pumps and with small circulation pumps with solar water heating systems.
Because it doesn’t include batteries, there is no way to store the power generated for use when there is no direct sunlight. So it’s worth considering adding batteries to your solar panel that will allow you to store energy for use during periods of insufficient sunlight.
The grid-connected hybrid power system
This kind of system works hand-in-hand with your regular supply of grid power. Because the inverter changes the current of the photo-voltaic solar panels from DC to AC, the electricity is consistent with the voltage and power quality requirements of the grid. Therefore the self-generated electricity is automatically either supplied to the home, the batteries or the grid.
When it generates more electricity than the home needs, and the batteries are fully loaded, the system feeds power back into the grid. It also means that you will still have a supply of power, from the batteries to your home when your panels aren’t producing power due to lack of sunlight, or if it has been disabled to carry out repairs or is being serviced, in which case it either draws power from the batteries or the grid; based on the lower threshold of the batteries, or which part of the system is being repaired or serviced.
The automation ensures optimal use of the self-generated and grid electricity of the hybrid system.
Determining the size of the system you require
A photo-voltaic system can be pricey, but it doesn’t have to break your budget. The first step in determining whether the long term savings it offers are worth it, is to figure out how much energy you need to run your home comfortably. This is how you should go about it:
- Make a list of all the electrical appliances you use, how many watts they need to work and how many hours you use them every day.
- Now multiply the number of watts by hours of use to get the total needed for each appliance.
- Add these figures together and you’ll have the total number of watts your system needs to generate on a daily basis.
- Work out how many hours of daylight you get every day.
- Finally, divide the total watts you require by the number of daylight hours and you’ll have a figure that indicates how many watts your system needs to produce on a daily basis.
Let’s use your TV as an example. Say you watch about 2 hours of TV every evening, and it uses about 14 Watts, multiply that by 2 and you end up with 28 Watts to run your TV. You’ll need to do this calculation for every appliance in your home.
And let’s say that you work out your home needs an average of 3000 Watts a day to keep all these appliances working. If you get an average of 4.3 hours of daylight, then divide the 3000 Watts by 4.3 and you’ll need a solar panel system that can deliver at least 698 Watts to power your home without relying on the national grid.
Remember, if you use your solar panels in conjunction with the main grid, you can start small and add more panels as you can afford them. This way you can start reaping the benefits of solar power without spending a large amount of money.
And if you consider how much a photo-voltaic system will save on your monthly electricity bill, it won’t be long before you can afford to increase your system to cope with your demands.
Photo-voltaic Solar Panel Installation
If you don’t have the required technical skills, it is best to leave the installation of your solar panel system to the experts. A company that is properly accredited will be able to install the system correctly and safely.
You have three different options when it comes to installing the solar panels:
- Ground mounted solar panels
- Roof mounted solar panels
- Thin film solar panels
Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Whether you are buying a green home with this feature or retro-fitting an existing home, you’ll need to consider the cost and practicality of each system before you make a decision. Here is some more information about each kind of installation to help you:
- Ground mounted solar panels
In this case the solar panels are fastened to the ground, and you have a few more options to choose from:
- Static Mounted System:This is the most cost-effective type of installation, provided you have the space for it. The panels are mounted in a position to capture the maximum amount of sunlight.
- Active Solar Tracker:These panels actively track the sun during the day to absorb the maximum amount of sunlight.
- Passive Solar Tracker:This system uses heat from the sun to move a liquid inside the tracker from side to side. So gravity does the work of moving the panels and it eliminates the need for motors, gears and controls. This makes it slightly cheaper than an active solar tracker.
Ground mounted solar panels are ideal if you have a large area of unused land. You can install more panels and enjoy higher savings. And you don’t have to make any changes to rooftop to accommodate the panels.
- Roof mounted solar panels
You can mount photo-voltaic solar panels on just about any kind of roof, although tiled roofs can present a bit of a challenge. The panels are mounted directly on the roof and will not interfere with the aesthetics of your home.
They don’t take up any space on land that you may want to use for other projects and they offer additional protection from the weather and general wear and tear. This increases the value of your property. They’re also faster and easier to install than ground mounted systems.
Although these aren’t more efficient at collecting sunlight than other solar panels, they have some attractive advantages. They are literally glued onto the roof which eliminates the risk of damage to your roof. They’re lighter than other panels too and in very hot climates they tend to work better than conventional panels.
The size of your property, the position of your roof, how much energy you need to generate and the installation costs all need to be taken into consideration. You should also work out how much you’ll save to determine your return on investment. You might be surprised to find that solar panels are not that expensive to install.
The benefits of a photovoltaic system
The energy generated from solar panels is a renewable resource. Unlike coal and gas it will never run out and you’ll enjoy free electricity for at least 25 – 30 years (this is the average lifespan of a solar panel).
Solar panels provide a safe, non-toxic and environmentally friendly form of power for your home. It doesn’t produce any harmful emissions and you’ll never have to suffer the inconvenience of a power blackout again. With the savings it generates, you’ll have more money to spend down the line as the cost of electricity continues to rise.
Light, heat and power have become a part of our modern lives. Without a steady supply of electricity we cannot work, cook, communicate or play. Unfortunately, increasing demand from businesses and individuals is placing a strain on our national grid. Not only can the national supplier not cope with this demand, but it is also forcing the price of electricity up all the time.
There has never been a better time to invest in this green technology. You will quickly recover your initial costs in the form of regular savings on your monthly running costs. And you can always start small and increase the number of panels as you can afford them.
What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the words ‘solar power’? Do you picture an eco friendly lifestyle home with solar panels on the roof? You’re not wrong, though there are some other ways to harness the power of the sun for your home. Using solar power can help you reduce your reliance on the grid and put cash back in your pocket.
Solar power is a versatile and sustainable source of energy. Here are some unusual ways you can use it to power your home:
Solar water heaters
Heating water for your home accounts for a significant portion of your monthly energy bills. A family of four needs a lot of hot water for their daily cleaning, bathing and cooking needs. Installing a solar water heater can reduce the cost of generating hot water by as much as 80%. Solar heaters use either evacuated tubes or solar thermal panels to heat the water directly. The heat is then used to warm up water for your household needs.
Apart from saving on costs, a solar water heater can also save water and time. With green and eco friendly lifestyle homes, during building by installing a linked-loop throughout the home, enables that as soon as you turn on the tap, hot water is available. You don’t have to let the tap run and wait for the water to reach your desired temperature. Few people realise that greener living can actually be more convenient.
Keeping the lights turned on in a dark area of your home is a sure way to run up your energy bill. Installing a skylight in a poorly lit area is a cheaper and better way to bring light into your home. Sunlight is healthier and completely free. If you install a skylight that opens, you can use it to release warm air and keep your home cooler during the hot summer months.
You don’t always need a large skylight either. Tubular skylights are a good option for smaller areas and allow you to funnel daylight into the areas where you need it. They’re inexpensive and relatively easy to install.
Solar garden lights are the perfect way to light up your outdoor areas without flipping the switch. With a tiny solar panel, battery and LED lamp, you can set your garden lights to turn on automatically when the sun goes down. They come in a variety of forms: string lighting, fairy lighting, tube lighting and even Christmas lights. You can get creative and make your garden look even more beautiful without spending a cent on electricity.
Solar chargers for electronic devices
Although they aren’t common, you can find solar charges available. These handy devices can be used to charge small electronic devices such as your cell phone or tablet. Depending on your needs, they are inexpensive and portable. Essentially they consist of a small solar panel and some models may include a battery.
You can use them at home to charge your electronics for free and they’ll help to reduce your carbon footprint. Solar charges are the perfect example of how green and eco friendly living can be affordable and convenient.
You’ll find over 60 different types of solar cookers and are categorised as follows:
- Box solar cookers
- Panel solar cookers
- Solar kettles
- Parabolic solar cookers
- Hybrid cookers
What they all have in common is that they use energy from the sun for a chore that you have to do every day—cook food. Not only do they provide you with massive energy savings, they’re much safer to use. They don’t require any kind of fuel and they don’t produce any flames or fumes. Solar cookers provide a clean and efficient form of energy which is completely free.
Going solar doesn’t mean having to sacrifice your creature comforts. If anything, using sunlight to heat your water and charge your electronics makes your life easier. If you’re reluctant to incorporate solar power into your home, perhaps these examples will change your mind. Aside from the cost savings you’ll enjoy, there are some other very good reasons to use solar power in your home.
Reasons to go photovoltaic solar
Photovoltaic cells are incredible. They generate an electric charge when photons in the sunlight hit them. These solar cells are usually made from silicon and mounted in panels on the roof of the home where they are exposed to the maximum amount of sunlight.
By absorbing photons from the sun they generate enough electricity to run your home without relying on the grid. This makes them perfect for eco friendly lifestyle houses which are designed to reduce your carbon footprint. The cost saving alone are a good reason to consider installing photovoltaic solar panels.
But there are some other reasons why solar photovoltaic panels are a good investment, particularly if you’re interested in green and eco friendly living.
Photovoltaic solar energy is affordable
While you may think that installing photovoltaic solar panels is expensive, they are actually quite affordable. The cost has come down considerably as the demand for alternative energy sources has increased. Today, they cost half as much as they did in 2008 and the solar market has increased substantially.
Photovoltaic solar panels are easy to install
If you’re retrofitting an existing home, you’ll be pleased to hear that installing photovoltaic solar panels is not that difficult. If you have the knowledge you may be able to do the installation yourself. Though it’s always wise to work with an expert. They’ll be able to provide you with the right advice when it comes to choosing and fitting the panels for your home. Your energy requirements should be assessed and the size and position of your roof taken into account before installation begins.
Photovoltaic solar panels require little maintenance
Green technologies are surprisingly robust and photovoltaic solar panels are an excellent example of this. They are strong enough to survive some tough weather conditions such as rain, wind and hail. A high quality installation can last as long as 30 years and requires hardly any maintenance. Monitoring and operating your photovoltaic solar panels and battery back-up will be no hassle at all.
Photovoltaic solar energy is reliable
This is of particular importance where the power supply can be erratic. Load shedding can be frustrating and inconvenient. But with photovoltaic solar panels you never have to worry about coming home to a house without power. Given our sunny weather, you can look forward to a constant and free supply of energy throughout the year.
Photovoltaic solar energy is safe and clean
Solar cells are environmentally friendly. They do not burn fuel, produce noise or pollute the atmosphere. You get all the benefits of a constant supply of power without damaging the environment or contributing to the load on limited resources. Your carbon footprint is reduced without having to sacrifice any modern conveniences.
Photovoltaic solar panels conserve water
And while you’re reducing the strain on the national grid, you’re also saving water. Electricity generated from a photovoltaic system use 100% less water per kWh of electricity than coal power plants. That’s a double saving for greener living enthusiasts.
The big benefit of photovoltaic solar power for home owners still lies in the impressive long term saving you achieve. If you take into account the fact that electricity costs will only continue to rise, investing in photovoltaic solar power now makes it the best investment you can make for your home. While the initial installation costs are high, your savings will enable you to offset that in just a few years. And you can always start small and add on more panels as you can afford them.
The more you understand photovoltaic solar power, the more you’ll be convinced that it’s worth investing in. Here is some information you may find useful.
Photovoltaic solar power components
A photovoltaic system comprises of the following components:
- Photovoltaic solar panels: Made from silicon, these panels are mounted on your roof where they catch the sun and convert that energy into power for your home.
- DC-AC inverter: This unit is responsible for converting the current generated by the panels into a form that can be used for running your appliances and devices.
- Storage batteries: Upwards of 2500 hours of sunshine a year. It’s entirely possible that your system could generate more energy than you need. Storage batteries are used to store the power providing you with a constant and uninterrupted supply every day.
- Charge controller or regulator: This prevents damage to your batteries as a result of excessive discharging or overcharging.
All these elements are required, and you can alter the size and number of photovoltaic solar panels depending on your budget and needs. The beauty of a photovoltaic system is that you can add to it at a later stage. This allows you to start small and increase capacity when you can afford it.
Photovoltaic solar power installations
You can choose from three types of installations depending on the size of your property:
- Ground mounted: This type of installation is ideal if you have a large, clear area of land to work with. You can install as many photovoltaic solar panels as you need.
- Roof mounted: Mounting your photovoltaic solar panels on the roof ensures that they receive maximum exposure to the sun.
- Thin film photovoltaic solar panels: These panels are glued onto your roof which eliminates the risk of damage to your tiles. They are perfect for sunny climates as they collect more energy than conventional panels.
Take some time to work out how photovoltaic solar panels could make a difference to your monthly expenses and weigh that against the costs of your preferred installation type. You’ll see why going photovoltaic makes sense.
Though retrofitting photovoltaic solar panels is a big investment to make, it’s the perfect way to start living green and eco friendly. Alternatively, if you’re in the market for a new home, look for one that already has this feature.
Photovoltaic solar energy can be used in different ways to help you cut costs and start living green and eco friendly. Whether you’re ready to say goodbye to the grid for good, or just make small changes to reduce your consumption, the technology does exist. And with each passing year, new developments make eco friendly lifestyle homes that utilise photovoltaic solar power easier to afford. Don’t wait too long, the sooner you start living green, the more you’ll save.
Investing in eco friendly living homes with photovoltaic solar panels is one solution to the problem. Though these homes are more expensive than traditional ones. If you’re a first time home buyer, does it make sense to splurge now and to save in the future? Here’s everything you need to know about owning a photovoltaic solar powered home.
The advantages of photovoltaic solar power
Beyond the obvious savings on the monthly electricity bill, photovoltaic solar power makes sense for a number of good reasons. Eco friendly living homes that run on photovoltaic power systems include the following benefits for homeowners:
Never run out of electricity
As long as the sun is shining, we’ll be able to run the home. The sun is a renewable source of energy unlike coal and gas. It’s not subject to price increases, and isn’t likely to run out any time in the next 5 billion years!
Get paid for excess electricity
In the future, we may get paid by the national supplier when generating more electricity than required, by feeding that excess back into the grid. Adopting green and eco friendly living habits could prove to be profitable.
Many Electicity Suppliers are already paying for excess electircity to be fed back into the grid.
Always have electricity when needed
By adding backup batteries to the photovoltaic solar system, excess energy is stored for use during the evenings. And when batteries aren’t installed, by using a hybrid grid-tied system, switching between photovoltaic solar power and the grid is enabled. That way electricity is always available.
Low maintenance costs
While photovoltaic solar panels seem futuristic, they are easy to care for. With few moving parts, there’s little chance that of spending a fortune on repairing or replacing parts. The only thing needed is to keep the panels free of dust and debris. If the panels are dirty they won’t absorb as much energy from the sun. All it takes to keep the panels clean is a hose and a little soapy water. Eco friendly living houses are generally cheaper and easier to maintain.
New developments are finding ways to integrate photovoltaic solar power and other green and eco friendly living features into the design of a home. Rainwater harvesting tanks, for instance, are installed underground to ensure they don’t detract from the appearance of eco friendly living houses. The benefits of photovoltaic solar power has resulted in more homeowners retrofitting this green technology to their existing homes.
ROI of a photovoltaic solar power system
After a few years, monthly savings on electricity pays for the photovoltaic solar power system – thus it pays for itself. Depending on the size of the system ROI is within five to eight years. Calculating current electricity costs over say 10 years, adding a modest price increase; keeping in mind the home is fully temperature controlled too, is an easy indication of the ROI period.
After that, savings continue progressively as the price of electricity increases. Keeping in mind when the green smart home is sold on, the cost of the green smart home features is fully recouped. Living green and eco friendly adds value in surprising ways.
The photovoltaic solar power system will last for many years
Photovoltaic solar panels are built to last for many, many years. Improvements in the technology will bring the cost of components down over time. Nevertheless, we’re able to start saving by installing a photovoltaic solar power system.
How does solar power work?
Greener and eco friendly living is the way to go. Photovoltaic solar power is a main green smart home feature. Broadly speaking, here is how it works.
The sun operates like a nuclear reactor, sending out packets of energy known as photons which reach the surface of Earth in eight-and-a-half minutes. Every hour, enough photons bombard our planet to satisfy global energy needs for a whole year!
Such a system is made up of photovoltaic solar panels and an inverter. The panels capture the energy from the sun and transform it into Direct Current. The inverter takes this and converts it into Alternating Current. It is this Alternating Current that is used to power the appliances in the home.
How much do solar panels cost?
There is no standard answer to this question. It all depends on how much power is needed to provide for a family’s needs. When designing eco friendly living houses, developers take the following into consideration:
- How much sun does the rooftop receive?
- What is the size of the roof?
- How much power is required?
- What is the budget?
- Whether it’s a hybrid grid-tied system?
- Whether backup batteries are required?
- Whether smart technology is required?
These are the questions to consider when investigating the idea of installing a photovoltaic solar power system; to an existing property or when it’s being designed for a ready-built eco friendly living home.
Which solar power system is the best?
There is a choice of three systems. Let’s take a closer look at them:
Stand-alone photovoltaic solar system
This type of photovoltaic system is also known as an ‘off-grid’ system. It operates independently of the national grid and makes use of backup batteries to store the power generated by the photovoltaic solar panels during the day. This means solar energy is used to run the home late into the night and during periods of bad weather.
Hybrid grid-tied system
The system works with the national grid. It reduces the electricity bill and is able to switch over to the national supply when needed.
The system also acts as a backup during load shedding and power disruptions.
Ideal green smart home system: hybrid grid-tied, photovoltaic with battery backup
When implementing a photovoltaic solar system, adding backup batteries and tying these to the grid, is the ideal green smart home system.
Such a system works like this:
During the day, the photovoltaic system runs the green smart home directly from the sun. Excess power is stored in the backup batteries. When the backup batteries are replenished, further self-generated excess power is fed into the grid, accumulating a credit with the grid service provider. On most days, by 11h00 the backup batteries are loaded and excess is going to the grid. From around 18h30 the home is run from the backup batteries. Once the batteries reach their evening threshold, the grid is used; first depleting the previously earned credit. Thereafter the grid usage is paid for. The backup batteries evening threshold allows for battery power to run the home during the morning peak period, after which the sun kicks in again. This cycle is repeated each day.
By designing the system to use the home’s own electricity during the morning and evening peak periods, should tiered electricity tariffs be implemented, the highest tariffs is never paid!
The number of photovoltaic solar panels and backup batteries installed is calculated based on evening usage and how much excess is fed into the grid. This is the ideal green smart home electricity system. Becoming independent of the grid on own terms.
How much will I save?
The main reason for investing in any kind of green smart home technology comes down the savings. When determining whether spending a substantial amount of money on a photovoltaic system is worth it, understanding the potential savings is necessary. With photovoltaic solar power there are three areas where savings are achieved:
As mentioned earlier, monthly savings will be determined by how much energy is needed to run the home. The up-front cost of installing a photovoltaic solar system will be offset by the savings. The more that is spent on electricity now, the more the savings are in the future.
Photovoltaic solar systems require little maintenance so apart from the initial installation costs, there is the maintenance costs.
Although it’s not a direct saving, the cost of the photovoltaic system is incorporated in the property value when selling it on. Eco friendly living homes will become more valuable as the trend grows, resulting in higher resale values.
- Avoid future price increases
The cost of electricity will continue increasing. Opting for photovoltaic solar power arrests any future price increases.
Green and eco friendly living is here to stay. It’s a real solution to the challenges we face of limited resources that will become more expensive in the future. To maintain our standard of living, it’s worth embracing green and eco friendly living philosophies to reduce our dependence on these resources without sacrificing comfort.
Photovoltaic solar energy makes a lot of sense for home buyers and existing home owners. Be prepared for the future!
Title: Transcript of Interview with Jonathan Harf, CEO of Jex Energy
Presented by: Emmanuel van der Meulen
Guest Speaker: Jonathan Harf
Date: 9 May 2017
Number of Speakers: 2
File Duration: 11:48
Transcriptionist: Jacqui Jonk
Links are at the end of the transcript.
00:01 Introduction to Radio Live Green Smart
00:54 Introduction to alternative energy sources
01:57 What is solar energy?
02:33 Start of interview with Jonathan Harf
06:36 Three options for solar power
08:43 Benefits of solar power to the domestic user
11:43 Wrap Up
00:01 Beginning of recorded material, Introduction to Radio Live Green Smart:
[Righto] so I’m just going to give a short introduction and then I’ll come back to you.
Emmanuel: Welcome to Radio Live Green Smart and to our interview this evening with Jonathan Harf, of Jex Energy. I’m the presenter Emmanuel, and a little bit of background on Radio Live Green Smart: it’s a forum to discuss green living and eco-friendly living and importantly a forum to discuss where you see any disrespect for the environment first hand. Bring such disrespect to us, we’ll assist to expose that environmental disrespect, use the contact us form to send the details of the disrespect, please provide comprehensive information.
00:54 Introduction to alternative energy sources.
Tonight’s talk is about alternative energy sources, most of the worlds current [electric] electricity supply is produced from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. These traditional energy sources have various challenges including but not [limit] limited to rising prices, growing environmental concerns over the climate changes and limited supply of fossil fuels. As a result, governments, businesses and consumers are increasingly supporting the development of alternative energy sources. [Renewed] renewable energy sources such as solar, biomass, geo thermal, hydroelectric and wind power generation have emerged as potential alternatives which address some of these concerns. Top
01:57 What is solar energy?
What is solar energy? Solar energy refers to energy from the sun. The sun has produced energy for billions of years [it is most] it is the most important source of energy for life forms. Solar energy technologies use the suns energy to light our homes, produce hot water, heat homes as shown in solar tankless water heater reviews and electricity. Top
02:33 Start of interview with Jonathan Harf.
Emmanuel: Jonathan is joining us
Emmanuel: and he’ll be talking about Jex Energy and how they look at renewable solutions. Jonathan my first question is tell us about yourself and Jex Energy and what do you do? Top
Jonathan: Ok sure, well what we do exactly is pretty much what you were going on about there, is we supply and [insall] install renewable solutions, renewable energy solutions predominantly for residential and commercial, [um] as the need is arising we moving more into the industrial sector too. What our aim [is] is to really reduce the carbon footprint and have people less reliant on the normal utilities, fossil fuels what not.
Emmanuel: Ok, [what um]what would be interesting [um] especially from our point of view as well: why should people switch to solar power?
Jonathan: Well it’s a very good question [um] very simple answer. The people are using up the fossil fuels at a dramatic rate and it is really destroying our planet. That would-be option [well] reason number 1 to kind of go green. [um] reason 2 [inaudible] the growth of the solar market worldwide has seen a huge reduction in the price of solar panels, solar grid tie inverters, it is really becoming a cost-effective way to move over. You must remember that in South Africa [um] our electricity price is still relatively low compared to a lot of the rest of the world, so the quicker people here can move over to solar energy the better for them from a cost saving point.
Emmanuel: Yeah, just before we move on, I’m curious, are you finding traction? Are you finding a little bit of resistance? Is the market buying into this still in a small way or in a big way? How do you find the market?
Jonathan: I’ll tell you something, we’ve been doing this now for 6 years, for the first 4 years there was a lot of resistance[um] people were very hesitant, the prices were high, which did cause this obviously.
Jonathan: In the last 2 years, this industry has literally boomed, [it’s um] we are just getting requests from every sector in the market which is brilliant.
Emmanuel: Ok, even domestic dwellings?
Jonathan: Even domestic, and that now has also come down to the fact of the drop in the prices of batteries as well as the technology increasing [um] Tesler have released their Powerwall 2 which we are installers and suppliers of, and that battery is really changing the way people can live.
Emmanuel: Ok, is that the life of the battery or is that the cost or both? [inaudible]
Jonathan: It’s the life and the cost. They’ve been able to increase the life and reduce the cost.
Emmanuel: Ok I understand [righto]. [uh] Jonathan and then what are the different solar power solutions available either in the market or from your company?
Jonathan: Sure, so and in the market at the moment you would look at 3 different options. Top
6:10 cuts out
Emmanuel: Hello are you there? Hello?
Jonathan: There’s obviously [inaudible] hello can you hear me?
Emmanuel: You were out a little bit, just give [inaudible] please Jonathan.
Emmanuel: Jonathan sorry, suddenly something has gone wonky, [um] you come and go. Shall we just try again?
Jonathan: Can you hear me now?
Emmanuel: Yes, I hear you well. Top
06:36 Three options for solar power.
Jonathan: Ok, alright, so your first option would be a grid tied system, this is have solar panels and a grid tied inverter, there’s no backup or battery storage with this system [uh] typically this is a cost saving system. The only drawback obviously is that you don’t get any benefit at night time. We find this system typically used in commercial situations where they are using most of their power during the day; that being said there is space for it in the domestic area.
The next system would be what you would call your hybrid system, this would be a system typically where you would have a battery bank as well as solar panels and an inverter. The solar panels would feed the house or the offices during the day, the inverter then would change some of that solar power into storable energy into your batteries. This would be then either used on a daily or nightly basis, just a small amount not to drain the batteries or used as a backup, say for example there’s load shedding or a power outage.
And the last system is a complete off-grid system this is where you do not have any grid, any Eskom grid or any power grid and we design a system around that. We’ve done quite a lot of systems for game parks and those sorts of situations where it’s too expensive for [inaudible] Eskom line [inaudible] completely off solar energy and batteries.
Emmanuel: OK and that must be the expensive one?
Jonathan: [ah] yes that is quite pricey, although as I said as technology increases, these systems are really becoming a reality. [um] Elon Musk with Tesler, they’ve set up an entire island, one of the islands of Hawaii, that are running completely off grid.
Emmanuel: OK, so it’s not impossible?
Jonathan: No, not at all.
Emmanuel: OK, [righto] thank you for those insights.
Emmanuel: Then if we can take it a step further and maybe you can cover the domestic [uh] dwellings as well [uh] as well as the industry but also let’s look at the [indus, uh] the domestic user. What are the benefits of the solar power? Top
08:43 Benefits of solar power to the domestic user.
Jonathan: Well firstly obviously, it’s the cost saving, so [um] although the pay back is still relatively long, [um] if you factor in Eskom increases, as you know are quite ridiculous sometimes there is definitely a cost saving. Another big thing is that you no so reliant on one sort of power source, the utility, whoever it is.
Jonathan: So, it really lets you be a bit more free if you will [uh] obviously we also a green company so we believe in reducing your carbon footprint and all those sort of things.
Emmanuel: [inaudible] yeah OK. Just on the [the] grid tied that you mentioned a moment ago.
Emmanuel: What happens if the system produces more electricity than the house or the office dwelling actually uses.
Jonathan: Very [very] good question. So, at the moment is South Africa there’s only 1 or about 3 or 4 municipalities that allow for feedback into the grid and you get [you get] a credit in your account. There is a push now, Tshwane municipality have sort of passed it through legislation, so it will just take a bit of time and they are also going to allow for it. It [it] is a reality that it has to happen especially as our grid is under so much strain this would allow for energy to becoming back to them, even if we not getting paid the full amount you’ll still get a credit. All over the world they allow for feedback into the grid, however in places where it’s not allowed yet we do put something on called a grid tie limiter which just prevents that feedback for now but in the near future hopefully all the municipalities will follow suit.
Emmanuel: Ok so there is uptake? I take it when you started your business [inaudible] that there were no municipalities buying back?
Emmanuel: Now there are. OK
Emmanuel: OK so there is a growth but slow. [uh] are you there Jonathan?
Jonathan: I’m here yes [yes].
Emmanuel: The other question is, what are your most popular solutions?
Jonathan: Our most popular solutions right now I would say in the domestic market would be our hybrid solution, as I mentioned it has solar panels as well as a battery bank so you are getting the best of both worlds [um] we set up these systems in such a way that we try get people say 80-90% off grid with them.
Jonathan: So, it can be quiet a big saving to a lot of people. On the commercial side its definitely our grid tied system where companies are now looking at a 3-year payback on their system.
Emmanuel: As quick as that? Wow.
Jonathan: As quick as that yes. Top
11:43 Wrap Up
Emmanuel: [inaudible] OK righty [um] Is there maybe anything else you want to cover? I’m drawing towards the end of…
End of Transcript Top