FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the 3 main types of systems?
- Grid tied solar systems – this consists of a solar system only. This will offer savings on your monthly utility bill but not benefit you during load-shedding. You will still be connected to the grid.
- Smart Hybrid systems – this fully integrated smart energy system includes a UPS (battery system) along with your solar system. You can enjoy the monthly savings and be protected during load shedding.
- UPS system – this is a battery storage system only. You will continue to use grid power as normal but in times of load shedding, your UPS systems will run your essential items. The UPS will be charged by the grid power.
Does solar work during load shedding?
A Smart Hybrid system will as it contains the batteries to power your essential items but a Grid-tied solar PV systems will generally be programmed to switch off during load shedding. Why is this? It comes down to international safety standards. During a grid outage, the solar system is designed to switch off. This serves as protection for grid personnel that might be working on transmission lines during outages. If buildings continue to generate power during a grid outage and potentially export power to the national grid, it could be fatal for maintenance personnel who are unaware that there is live electricity in the lines when the grid is off. To combat this, you will need to add a UPS system (batteries) to make it a Smart Hybrid system which will store the power for later use.
What is a UPS system?
UPS stands for uninterruptible power supply. This means that a UPS system is designed to keep the power running during times of load-shedding or when the main power grid goes down. You can preselect items to be connected up to the UPS for example lights, security system and plugs. The more you add, the less time you will achieve from your batteries during a cycle. We recommend only the bare essentials be linked to you UPS system.
How does solar power work?
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels contain a semiconductor material which converts sunlight into direct-current (DC) electricity. An on-site inverter converts the DC power to AC power, which can then be connected to a home’s power supply.
What time of the day and during the year does a solar system work?
Solar systems only works when the sun is shining. As the strength and angle of the sun varies throughout the day and seasons, so too does the strength of the sun’s radiation and this affects the amount of electricity your solar power system will generate. The highest solar generation during the day is usually from 11am to 4pm.
Days are longer in summer and shorter in winter and correspondingly, the amount of electricity generated through the same solar power system, in the same location changes with the seasons. This means that some solar systems can generate more electricity in Summer, than in the short days of winter.
Does solar make sense for my home?
Perform a spot check to determine if your roof if free of shaded by trees, mountains or other buildings? If your roof is flat or mainly sloped in a northerly direction and has an uninterrupted northern exposure? If you have answered ‘yes’ to these questions your home, office or building may be ideal for solar PV.
What factors influence the economics of a solar system?
This is determined by a number of factors, including geographic location, specific energy consumption tariff, slope and shading of roof structure or piece of ground where solar panels will be mounted.
Does my region get enough sun for solar power to make sense?
South Africa has some of the world’s best solar resource. Certain parts of the country such as the drier interior experience better solar irradiation than others. However, solar energy can work just about anywhere, and even South Africa’s poorest solar resourced region experiences substantially higher solar irradiation than Germany, which as a country has the world’s most solar installed.
Will the panels work on our older roof structure? Can our roof take the additional load?
Solar Panels weigh around 15-20kg/m2 which is typically well within the capacity for roof loads. However, there are some roofs that may be unsuitable to handle additional loading. This is usually not related to age, but more to the design of the roof itself. Before proceeding with an installation, if uncertain, the client may need to undertake a structural assessment by a professional structural engineer to ensure that the potential installation would safely within the load-bearing capacity of the roof.
I use power at night, how will solar help me?
A solar PV installation will not benefit you outside of sunlight hours, solar power is live. If you were to store your power, we still do not recommend that you use your batteries for anything other than for load-shedding purposes. We can advise you on some behavioural changes to maximize your solar system usage. Eg, put your geyser, pool pump on a timer to run during the day. Switch to gas cooking and install energy saving lighting.
What are the financial benefits of solar energy?
When you install a solar energy system on your property, you save money on your electricity bills and protect yourself against rising electricity rates in the future. How much you can save depends on the utility rates and solar policies in your area, but going solar is a smart investment regardless of where you live.
What are the environmental benefits of solar energy?
Solar power, like other renewable energy resources, has many environmental and health benefits. Going solar reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change, and also results in fewer air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, which can cause health problems.
How do I find out how much I pay for electricity?
The easiest way to find out how much you pay for electricity (and how much electricity you use per month) is to take a look at your utility electricity bill.
How does solar impact my property value?
Studies have shown that homes with solar energy systems sell for more than homes without them. In most parts of the country, going solar will actually increase your property value more than a kitchen renovation.
Do my solar panels produce power when the sun isn’t shining?
The amount of power your solar energy system can generate is dependent on sunlight. As a result, your solar panels will produce slightly less energy when the weather is cloudy, and no energy at night. However, because of high electricity costs and financial incentives, solar is a smart decision even if you live in a cloudy city.
What size solar energy system should I get?
The size of your solar energy system will depend on how much electricity you use on a monthly basis, as well as the weather conditions where you live. Take a look at your past electricity bills to determine the best system size for your needs.
What happens during the solar power installation process?
The first step to getting a solar system is to contact LTM via the Website to receive a quote. When you are happy with the quote, we will contact you for an off-site audit. After that we may conduct a site visit to assess your property. Once you accept a quote, LTM will file the paperwork necessary to have your system approved. The actual installation takes two – five days to complete. (depending on size)
Should I ask for a solar monitoring system for my solar panels?
If you are interested in receiving detailed information about how much energy your solar panel system is producing, ask us about solar monitoring system options. You will need to pay for one separately.
What is the durability of solar panels?
In general, solar panels are extremely durable. Most manufacturers test their panels to confirm that they can withstand high winds and heavy snow loads, and many solar panels are specifically tested to ensure that they can withstand falling hail. Additionally, solar energy systems don’t usually have moving parts, and they require little maintenance.
The best way to keep your solar panels working long-term is to work with a reputable installer that offers solid customer service. It’s also important to purchase solar panels that come with robust warranties – usually lasting around 25 years that guarantee your panels will produce above a certain amount of energy for your home.
Nevertheless, keeping your solar panel system well maintained and clean can lead to a lower degradation rate each year and can promise longer panel performance.
Do I need to clean my solar panels?
If you live somewhere with high amounts of smog, dust, dirt, sand or bird droppings then yes, but generally speaking solar panel cleaning is usually not necessary. In most cases, the occasional rain will be enough to naturally and safely keep your solar panels clean and free of debris that could lower production. If you notice a build-up on your panels, try to hose them down from the ground level before attempting to climb onto the roof to clean them. If you require a cleaning service, feel free to contact us.
How long does the installation take?
The installation time will depend on the size if the system you require as well as the complexity. For a standard residential system, it will usually take anywhere between 2 and 5 days. Generally the installation team will require access to your roof, battery bank location, DB board and the space in between to run the cables.
What are the municipal requirements for going off the grid South Africa?
Electricity distributors will be required to identify “off-grid own use customers” in their area of supply for inclusion on a national map under new draft rules.
That will make municipalities, and in areas where it supplies customers directly, Eskom, responsible for spotting solar panels and reporting them to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa). Although the rules may vary from Province to Province, it is best to speak to us or your local Municipality for the applicable regulations.