RESOURCES AND TIPS
Need a bit more info? Find here helpful summarised information that may help.
(Also please refer to the FAQ page for the answers to common questions.)
Expert advice really is key.
This page is not exhaustive, but rather provides basic quick summarised tips in bullet form.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DIFFERENT TYPES OF BACKUP POWER SYSTEMS?
Firstly, there are two main reasons for considering solar or backup power solutions:
- You want to not be impacted by power outages or load shedding. (Any backup power or solar solution will help with this.)
- You want to generate your own power and save on your electricity costs. (Only full solar or wind power generation systems will help with this.)
Assuming you want to as a minimum have backup power, then you can consider the following solutions:
Buying a generator. (This is the cheapest option.)
It is noisy and produces toxic fumes and heat when running.
It costs money when running (because it uses fuel).
It needs regular servicing (like a car).
Many houses, apartments and estates are not allowed to use generators due to noise and other regulations.
Install backup batteries. (This can be a good start, especially if you can add solar panels later.)
Seamless backup power without any noise or fumes.
You charge your batteries when you have mains power, and only use them when needed.
Any house or apartment can use backup batteries, even mobile homes.
Costs more than a generator (especially if you use good long lasting batteries).
A solar (or wind) generation system, including batteries.
You have backup battery power, but additionally have power being generated whenever the sun is shining. You use power from your batteries whenever there is not enough sun , like during cloudy weather or at night. When you have excess sun power, you use that to charge your batteries.
You generate your own electricity, and don't need to buy all the power you use on a daily basis.
By saving on electricity costs, you can actually let the system pay for it self. (Typical solar payback periods are from 6 to 8 years, thereafter you are making money.)
The most expensive, but the most capable system, and the only solution that saves you money over time.
IMPORTANT THINGS THAT MOST SOLAR INSTALLER DON'T TELL YOU.
People usually get advice and quotes from various different installers before deciding what to go for. The cheapest option always look very attractive due to its affordability, and we often need to explain what are the shortcomings in alternatives systems.
As in general, you usually get what you pay for... If you want to buy something that transports you from point A to point B, then both a bicycle and a car can do that, but a bicycle has many more limitations. Installers providing you with a cheap quote and hoping you go with them typically hide the below limitations of their cheaper alternative.
That cheap inverter is not going to work that great:
Many cheaper inverter brands have a very high failure rate. Expect it to stop working unexpectedly and not too far in the near future.
Cheap inverters usually don't allow feeding power back to the input side of your house circuits, limiting your savings.
Cheap inverters don't allow "syncing" with the grid to pass power through your inverter when exceeding your inverter limit.
It will overload more easy.
You will not be able to power your entire house, and the system may have significant limitations in terms of what it will be able to power. This may also result in your system being overloaded and failing.
They are not including enough solar panels. Cloudy and rainy conditions often occur, and one needs to plan for that. Do not use "peak sun" as the norm when sizing your installation.
The battery they are recommending is too small:
Good batteries are important but expensive, so that is a easy place to cut cost.
A too small battery will shorten its lifespan, as it will be worked too hard.
Your savings will be less, because you will run out of backup power quicker, especially at night.
There are important things that you should install, but are being excluded:
Good quality fussed and circuit breakers
Cheaper roof mounting is being used, that could void your solar panel warrantee and also result in a leaking roof with water damage.
Their install is not 100% compliant, and/or they are not planning to issue you with an updated Certificate of Compliance, since it will cost you extra.
WHAT SIZE SOLAR SYSTEM DO I NEED?
I WANT TO GO COMPLETELY OFF-GRID. IS IT POSSIBLE AND FEASIBLE?
WHAT COMPONENTS ARE IN A TYPICAL SOLAR SYSTEM?
WHY ARE SOME INVERTERS MUCH CHEAPER THAN OTHERS FOR THE SAME SPECS?
WHAT MAKES A SOLAR INSTALLER GOOD VS. NOT SO GOOD? DOES IT MATTER?
Expert knowledge and skill
90% of the time we outprice our competitors with a significantly better price, using higher quality hardware!