1. How easy is it to go off grid?
It is easy to go off grid, however at a cost. The storage capacity (battery backup) is expensive and needs to be correctly sized to supply backup for at least 3 days in case of heavy rainy days. That been said it also depends on the load of a household. The bigger the load the more costly the system.
Another factor that plays a role is what we call the solar lifestyle. The size of a solar PV system can be scaled down by ‘smoothing out’ peaks in load. It simply means not to use household appliances that use a lot off electricity at the same time i.e. kettle and dishwasher. By staggering the use of these appliances, the peak usage can be lowered and a smaller system is then needed.
2. What would the process (going off grid) entail?
It is recommended to start by installing a reasonably sized system for the household – except if money is not an issue or no grid supply is available.
Helderberg Solar Energy install PV solar systems that is cost effective, flexible and easy upgradable. Our systems can collect performance data that give a clear indication of what is needed to upgrade the system to eventually go off grid i.e. a larger PV array, inverter or storage (battery backup).
The savings in the utility bill can then be used to upgrade the system at a later stage.
3. What are the benefits of going off-grid?
- Security – Criminals active during loadshedding (break-ins)
- A very good investment (ROI)
- Stable electricity supply – loadshedding not a headache
- Equipment last longer (lights, fridges, alarm system batteries, TV’s, computers)
- Huge future savings
4. Is it sustainable?
Yes. Helderberg Solar Energy installs only Lithium Ion batteries, which have a lifespan of at least 10 years, depending on cycles. The normal lifespan of a Lithium Ion battery is 6000 cycles.
One charge cycle off a battery is when it has been discharged to an amount that equals 100% of the battery’s capacity — but not necessarily all from one charge. For instance, 50% of a battery’s capacity is used one day, and then it is recharged fully. The next day 30% of the battery’s capacity is used and then recharged fully. The next day 20% off the battery’s capacity is used and then recharged fully. Therefor a cycle took 3 days (50+30+20% = 100%). It could take several days to complete a cycle.
Solar PV panels also last in excess of 10 years. Electrical equipment like inverters has a minimum of 5 years warranty. In most cases an installation can last for up to 10 years with very low maintenance cost.
Technology is changing rapidly and the increase in electrical cars is making it very feasible for the future.
The savings achieved on the utility bill and increase in tariffs definitely makes it cost effective.
6. Risks for the household, if any
Like any electrical installation, there is a risk if not correctly installed according to regulations and good electrical engineering practises. It is off the utmost importance to have it done by a reputable installation company.
7. Anything else of relevance
Due to the cost of going off grid, it is a much more economical option to install a grid tied system. In this scenario, the grid (Eskom) is used as a backup, i.e. for at night or rainy days where storage (battery backup) is not enough to cater for the load.
Approval is needed by most municipalities for grid tied systems. The installation needs to be signed off by a PR. Eng. (if solar PV panels are installed) and COC certification is needed. If it is a grid tied system, only approved municipal inverters are allowed.
A COC is required in all instances for insurance purposes.
8. Helderberg Solar Energy Services
A. Consultation regarding renewable energy options:
• Solar PV Systems
• Solar Hot Water Systems (i.e. Geyser conversions to solar)
B. Design, Installation and Commissioning of:
• Solar PV Systems (COC Certification, Pr. Eng. COCT Application, Sign Off and Approval)
• Emergency & LED Lighting
• Solar Hot Water Systems
• Solar CCTV Surveillance
• Solar Perimeter Sensing
• Solar Remote Control Gates