Frequently asked questions
How can I save with SolarSkye’s solar
The average South African household consumes about 1 kW per hour of electricity, or 900 kWh per month. For example, an energy efficient fridge will use about 350 kWh per year (at an average utility cost of R1.40/kWh, that’s less than R250 a year); while a large plasma screen TV can use as much as 700 kWh per year (about R500/yr).
But those costs aren’t expected to stay steady—remember that electricity costs are on the rise, and your use of electricity probably is too.
If you install a 3kW ASE system, based on an average amount of sunlight, (between 4.5 – 5h/day) the system would create 400 – 450 kWh per month. Using the min amount of sunlight (4.5h/day) SolarSkye’s ASE grid-tied system will reduce your electricity bill by 45% . You can also use SolarSkye’s ASEB system to totally eliminate your electricity bill. Estimating that bill at R1260pm, your initial investment will save you approximately R 567 a month for the life of your solar system. Your solar panels have a 25 year performance warranty and guarantees to perform a min of 80% of its max output within the first 25 years. (As stated by the manufacturer we use). When using our ASEB system you will save 100% of your monthly electricity bill. Using the above scenario you will save R1260pm.
Do we repair badly installed systems?
Yes we do. The market is being flooded by cheap imitations and unqualified people, bad workmanship and poor quality products is a part of everyday life in this booming industry. A solar system should be seen as an investment and therefore the quality of installation and product is of very high importance.
I hear the phrase “grid-tie(d)” a lot, what does that mean?
A solar PV system that is “grid-tied” is connected to the electric power distribution grid through ESKOM’s power lines. These are the same lines that bring electricity into your home or business. Having a grid-tied system allows you to take advantage of programs that may allow you to sell electricity back to your municipality (as in the case of PE, Cape Town)
Will I need a battery backup for my solar array?
In short, it is not essential to have a battery backup for your solar system. If however, you are interested in having backup power in case of a power outage, load shedding or if you want to live “off-grid”, independently from ESKOM, then you may want to add a battery package to your solar option (We are eagerly awaiting the Tesla Power Wall Battery).
I have a large home, how many solar panels do I need?
The more accurate question to ask is, “How many kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity do you consume in an average month?” Obviously a home that is designed and built to be energy efficient will consume far less electricity each month than a similar sized home that is not energy efficient. Contact your local municipality and ask them for a printout of your past 12 months kWh usage. Calculate the average kWh you consume each month and decide what your goals are. Do you want to offset your entire utility bill with solar power, or just a portion? Do you want to live completely independent from ESKOM? Are you interested in having some protection against the ever increasing electricity costs, with the average increase for the last 8 years sitting just below 19% pa? Give us a call and we can custom design a system that meets your needs and goals.
How much space do I need to install a solar system?
The physical size of a solar system depends on the electricity output desired. Solar panels commonly sold today measure approximately 1,65m x .990m, weighing about 20.5 kg, and rated at 250 – 260 watts per panel. A solar system rated at [i]1 kW would require 4 panels and cover approximately 6.4 – 7.5 square m of roof area. Under ideal conditions (i.e. proper orientation, no shading) in South Africa this 1 kW system would produce, on average, about 4.5 – 5 kWh of electricity daily (a 100 watt light-bulb will consume 4 kWh of electricity in 40 hours). That’s about 135 – 150 kWh a month on average. Using these numbers as a guide, a 5 kW system would, on average, produce about 600-700 kWh of electricity a month and would take up about 32 – 45 square m.
What is a Watt and how many Watts will a solar array produce?
A 100 watt (W) light-bulb consumes 1 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity if left on for 10 hours (i.e. 100 W x 10 hrs = 1,000 Wh or 1 kWh).
Solar systems are often referred to as some multiple of kilowatts…a 3 kW system is a 3,000 watt system, a 4 kW system is a 4,000 watt system, etc. Commonly sold solar panels today are rated at 250-260 watts (W) per panel. A solar array rated at 1 kW would require 4 x 260 watt panels. Under ideal conditions in South Africa (i.e. proper orientation, no shading) this 1 kW array would produce, on average, about 4-5 kWh of electricity daily or about 120-150 kWh a month on average. A 5 kW system would produce, on average, about 600 – 700 kWh of electricity in a month.
Can I start small and expand my system later?
Today’s inverter technology makes it easy to start with a small system and expand on it later. It is important to have an overall plan to make sure the proper infrastructure is in place to support future expansion.
What maintenance costs are involved?
Grid-tied inverter based systems are virtually maintenance free.
How long will my solar system continue to produce electricity?
High quality manufacturers put a 25 year linear performance warranty on their PV modules. There are many cases of panels installed for 30 or more years that are still producing at high efficiencies.
I have lots of trees in my yard; can I still have a solar system?
Shading can significantly reduce the efficiency of your solar array. Ideally your site should allow full sun exposure to the system from at least 9 am until 3 pm, longer if possible.
How can I find out if my house is suitable for a solar array?
When you contact SolarSkye we’ll visit your home and conduct a thorough Solar Site Survey using special equipment that allows us to project the amount of electricity a given system will produce on your site. We’ll discuss the actual location of the system, orientation, and any shading issues we find while there. When we’re done, you can be sure that your system will perform as projected in the Site Survey
How will I know if my array is functioning properly from day to day?
The inverters used in most of our systems allow for online monitoring of the system for customers with internet access. With Solaredge and their advanced solar monitoring software. This allows the user to not only monitor the string of panels, but each individual panel, giving a real time performance report of every panel installed.
DO YOU NEED a CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE FOR Solar SYSTEMS?
The South African code of practice states that any system from 0 to 1000 volts need to have a CoC issued, it is mandatory. SolarSkye, will issue a CoC certificate, after commissioning and testing of the system.
- 5 – 12 year manufacturer warranty on your inverter
- 25 year performance warranty on panels guarantees to perform a min of 80% of its max output within the first 25 years. (As stated by the manufacturer we use)
[i] Disclaimer: Please note that all calculations are based on optimal conditions and are calculated on an average radiation of between 4-5 hours/ day. (http://www.energy.gov.za/files/esources/renewables/r_solar.html). Examples are only there to give an estimate of what a solar system can produce and does not include min quantity of PV panels needed for optimal inverter performance. Inverters require a min number of PV panels to function. SolarSkye cannot guarantee min and max sunlight hours a day. All equations are estimates and only serve as an example of what a solar system can accomplish.