Solar PV is extremely rewarding on your path to saving money and lowering your carbon footprint.

Is PV not too expensive?

Through the rapid growth of global demand the industry has grown rapidly since 2005 with many more manufacturers entering the market. Subsequently there has been a drop in prices for solar PV modules of approx. 60%. As a result the cost per kWh of energy produced by PV is already cheaper when compared to certain tariffs being charged by the local utility company.

Will we require batteries?

Even though grid feed-in is only allowed with special permission at this point, we generally advise to install a grid-tied PV system. This means that, when required, additional energy will be drawn from the public grid and no back-up is required.

Is PV safe?

As a rule a PV system is not any more dangerous than any other electrical installation and needs to be safeguarded as such. To protect utility workers during a grid failure the PV system will shut down to prevent energy flowing back into the grid.

What is the difference between solar water heating (SWH) and solar electricity generation (PV)?

Solar Water heating (SWH) is a solar thermal process, whereby the radiation energy (heat) of the sunlight is used directly to heat the water in the panel. Solar electricity, or Photovoltaics, uses light to generate a flow of electrons.

Will the system generate electricity during a grid failure / blackout?

In short: No, but there is an exception. Once the power grid fails, the PV inverters, which connect the PV array to the grid, will shut down immediately. This is a safety feature as the grid may be shut down for maintenance and any energy flowing back would be life threatening. There is a possibility, where a fuel powered generator or battery system is installed which disconnects from the grid, to then start up the inverter feed again.

What about maintenance of the PV system?

As the PV system does not have any moving parts it is virtually maintenance free. Regular inspections should be done to make sure that all the electrical and mechanical connections are sound and have not been damaged (e.g. by wind or animals) and that the modules are not soiled which will reduce their output.

How long will the system last?

The manufacturers provide a 25 or even 30-year performance warranty but the system will continue to generate electricity well beyond that period.

What is the difference between a grid-tied and an off-grid installation?

A grid-tied system is connected to the public grid. When the PV system does not provide enough energy (nights, rainy weather) you will draw electricity from the public grid. In an off-grid system you will require batteries to store energy for such periods. A grid-tied system may also be equipped with batteries to store any excess energy from the PV system.

Section 2