When no Eskom or municipal power is available, a standalone solar system is the answer. This type of system is COMPLETELY independent of the power grid and there is no interaction whatsoever with Eskom. Typical applications are on farms or remote locations, although it could be installed practically anywhere.
These systems consists of 4 major components:
- Solar panels on the roof
- A charge controller to regulate the flow of energy from the solar panels to the battery bank
- A battery bank where the solar electric energy is stored
- An inverter to change the battery energy into normal household power.
The daily electrical energy requirement of the property will determine the required number of solar panels and other system components. The amount of reserve energy required for periods of little or no sun and the climatology of the specific location will also play a role when we design such a system. A wind turbine could even be added as an additional source of energy (with the provision that it is feasible) and a generator could be employed as a final back-up source of power.
Main benefits of standalone off grid solar systems:
- Dependable and reliable.
- Complete Energy Security.
- Cost of energy yield fixed for at least 25 years.
- Expandable and modular – can be enlarged at any time.
- Renewable resource with minimal impact on the environment.
- No more costly line availability fee (if you had Eskom before).
- Total independence – all electricity provided by sunlight.
- No grid power required, avoiding expensive infrastructure.
Main disadvantages of standalone off grid solar systems:
- Higher initial cost due to larger battery banks.
- Understanding and management of the system and energy usage is required.
- Energy usage limited to what the designed system can yield on a daily basis (could be supplemented by a generator).
- Battery banks need replacement eventually. Depending on design and type of batteries used, a lifespan of anything from 2 – 15 years is possible.
Very small 12 Volt systems can cost as little as R 2000 whilst large 3 phase systems can be R 500 000 or more. The cost of a system for your specific needs will depend entirely on the amount of electricity that is required on a daily basis.
My own household is powered by an off grid system and I am actually writing this content using clean, green energy from the sun! Many of our branches are also employing the same solution for their personal use.
Please contact your nearest ALLSOLAR branch for more information on a solution that will suit your specific needs.