Solar panels collect and store clean renewable energy in the form of sunlight and convert that light into electricity which can then be used to provide power for electrical loads in residential or commercial spaces.
What you need to know before migrating to solar energy
Things to consider before buying solar panels
- Panel type
- Warranty offering
What are the financial benefits of solar energy?
Solar is the most abundant energy on earth and shifting away from the normal power grid makes it a long-term investment. Give it a thought; Imagine not paying your power bills for the next five years. How much money would you save on your electricity bills?
When you install a solar energy system on your property, you also protect yourself against rising electricity rates in the future.
What are the environmental benefits of solar energy?
Going solar, which is a renewable source of energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change, and also results in fewer air pollutants that can cause health problems.
How much power do I need?
By looking at your past utility bills, you can calculate how many kilowatts you use on an average day. A typical system generates 5 kilowatts per day but your home may need more or less. If you are loading tokens, how much do you spend in a month or two? Try as much and make it a fixed expense, that way you will be able to monitor your usage.
However, solar panels are not 100% efficient at all times. Natural factors, like poor weather conditions, can limit your system’s efficiency. Experts recommend adding 25% to your daily average target so as to help you cover 100% percent of your energy needs.
An average roof of a home has more than enough room to accommodate the necessary number of panels that will produce a satisfactory amount of solar electricity to supply all of its power needs.
How much direct sun hits your roof?
The angle and direction in which your roof is facing is more important than you think. For optimum efficiency and production of electricity, your panels should be facing south at an angle of 35 degrees. To produce 1 kilowatt of power, you will need approximately 100 sq.ft. of roof space.
Furthermore, the panels should be placed away from shade or structures that might block the sun’s path. By increasing the exposure of the panels to sunlight, it will increase the amount of electricity you will be able to produce.
What size of 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. Have a look at your past monthly electricity bills and then compare offers from licensed distributors that have good reviews from their clients.
How many panels do I need?
The number of panels you need will depend on;
- The amount of solar power you need
- Amount of sunlight you receive in your area
- How much installing your solar system will cost you?
- Number of Watts you currently use
- How much you will save on utility bills
What are the effects of solar panel size?
Fewer solar panels make for a more efficient installation process and uses fewer materials.
Advantages of bigger panels:
- You get a slightly better Watts per (m ²) because you have more solar cells and less aluminum framing. So you should be able to fit a slightly bigger system on your roof.
Advantages of fewer panels
- Fewer panels are used for the same sized system, so there are fewer electrical connections, which in theory means a more reliable system.
- Fewer panels mean a slightly quicker installation process
Disadvantages of bigger panels
- They can limit you in terms of space
- Wiring might limit design because each panel produces many volts
- They are quite heavy
- If one fails out of warranty it is going to be more expensive to replace
How long will my solar system last?
Solar panels are generally durable and capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions. Your system should help you generate electricity for the next 25-30 years. Only a few components of the system will need replacement/maintenance over a certain period of time.
What maintenance will my solar system need?
Solar systems require little or no maintenance. During its lifespan, some of the components that will need replacements are;
- Inverter/charge controller– every 10-15 years of operation
- Batteries – every 5 years of operation.
What Does a Solar Inverter Do?
A solar inverter takes the direct current (DC) electricity from the solar array and uses that to create alternating current (AC) electricity.
They also provide ground fault protection and system stats, including voltage and current on AC and DC circuits, energy production and maximum power point tracking.
Micro-inverters are optimized for each individual solar panel meaning every solar panel performs at maximum capability while central inverters optimize for the whole system, meaning if one panel breaks down, it drags down the performance of the entire solar array.
How do I choose a solar system distributor?
Confirm that they are certified, licensed and insured, have relevant experience, and can provide references.
As a buyer, you should be aware of the increase of substandard solar parts, accessories and distributors in the market who do not offer warranties.
What do solar batteries do?
Solar batteries store electricity generated by the sun’s energy and allow you to use it during the evenings when your solar panels are not generating electricity.
What types of panels are available?
Monocrystalline solar panels – Monocrystalline solar panels are generally thought of as a premium solar product. The main advantages of monocrystalline panels are higher efficiencies and sleeker aesthetics.
Polycrystalline solar panels – They generally have lower efficiencies than monocrystalline options, but their advantage is a lower price point. Polycrystalline solar panels are also made from silicon. However, instead of using a single crystal of silicon, manufacturers melt many fragments of silicon together to form the wafers for the panel.
What determines solar panel efficiency?
Solar panel efficiency is a measurement of the capability of your panels to convert the energy from the sun to electricity.
- Material – the type of material (monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, cadmium telluride, etc.) impacts how light converts to electricity
- Wiring and busing – the organization of wires and “bus-bars” on a solar panel that actually capture and transfer electricity impacts efficiency
- Reflection – if light is reflected away from a solar panel, it’s efficiency may be lowered. This is why the glass layer on top of silicon solar cells is so important.
Can hail destroy my panels?
Typically, solar panels are stated by their manufacturers to withstand 3/4-inch hail balls travelling at 190km/hr.
How much will it cost me to install a solar system?
The outright cost of a typical solar system installation ranges from Ksh 300,000 to Ksh 360,000.
What is Net-Metering?
Net metering is a mechanism which allows domestic or commercial users who generate their own electricity using solar panels to export their surplus energy back to the main electricity grid.