With load shedding and the increased cost of electricity, it’s becoming more and more important to become less dependent on the electrical grid.

Related to installing solar power at home: AN OFF THE GRID BUSHVELD ESCAPE

Switching completely to solar power is beyond the reach of the average homeowner. However, installing a hybrid system that uses both solar and grid power is a more affordable way to keep costs down and ensure that appliances run during power cuts. Alex Hattingh of Sinetech has this advice.

What is a grid interactive or hybrid system?

A grid interactive system comprises of a battery bank, solar panels, an inverter and an MPPT regulator. The solar panels produce electricity during the day, ensuring the batteries are fully charged. Any excess power is directed to essential (critical load) appliances such as the TV, fridge, computer, lights, alarm system etc. If there is excess power available, the system will direct that power to non-essential appliances like the geyser, dishwasher, and stove. “The homeowner with a grid-interactive system could recharge the battery bank overnight with cheaper grid electricity, offset their power consumption with solar power, or use the stored power in the battery bank as and when they choose,” says Alex.

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How to work out what size system you need

The first step is to decide which appliances are essential. These are appliances that you want to run in the event of a power failure. These could include the lights, the TV, the computer, etc. “As appliances that involve heating and ones with a motor use a lot of power, don’t include these in this list. They will drain the batteries and leave very little power for more important appliances,” explains Alex.

All appliances and electronics have a watt rating. Add up the watt ratings of all the essential appliances to get the total watts you will use in an hour. Next, decide on how many hours per day you need to power these appliances. For example, 600W consumed over five hours is 3000W or 3kWh.

For 3kWh you would need Sinetech’s 3kWh hybrid system, the cost of which is approximately R88 943,30* (including VAT). It includes:

  • Heavy Duty Pure-Sinewave 3-in-1 Hybrid Power Inverter with built-in battery charger
  • Battery bank
  • Class A Tier-1 PV solar panels
  • All DC cables and connectors
  • Powder-coated steel battery cabinet, fuses and fuse holders

*This price doesn’t include installation costs or the mounting structure. Note that price is subject to change and was correct at time of publishing. Please contact a solar power service provider for exact prices.