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Mistakes to Avoid When Moving to Renewable Energy

Mar 29, 2021 | Getting Started in Renewable Energy, Grid-Tie Systems, Load shedding, Off-Grid Systems | 0 comments

Written by Madelein Kroukamp

March 29, 2021

Moving to renewable energy be it by either wind, solar, biomass, or a combination of these is becoming ever more popular with home-owners and companies alike. The benefits are remarkable and the trend of moving away from using fossil fuels as a source of electricity is ever increasing. The most popular choice being to go solar, but there are many aspects to consider before committing to a plan. It is very easy to make costly mistakes as a beginner doing research and planning your own solar system. Employing the services of a solar installation specialist and solar system designer would be of utmost value. Let’s look at the common solar mistakes to avoid.

Underestimating your power consumption

Calculating how much power you consume is much more complicated than looking at your utility bill and finding the average monthly amount. This calculation will determine how many solar panels you need to purchase to supply sufficient amounts of power. There are many factors to consider when doing this calculation. You need to look at things like climate, panel orientation, shading and peak sun hours to determine how much energy your system will truly generate. 

Not taking the structural components of your roof into consideration

Installing solar panels on your roof is going to add extra weight to it. Your structure needs to be able to withstand this load. Depending on the materials used to construct your rooftop, you might need racking to attach your panels to. You will also need to look at the fine print in the warranty of your roof to see if adding solar panels will impact it.

Not preparing for future changes

In the planning of your system, including space to add extra components if your situation should change is important. You might need enough energy now to support you and your dog with limited use of appliances, but what happens when you start building a family? You will need to generate more power, and just adding extra solar panels will not cut it. Taking into consideration the space available, the inverter that has to be sized to match the new current being produced, and the adding of batteries for those that are off-grid. This needs to have been carefully planned out with a professional. 

Thinking that going solar means no more loadshedding

It is a popular misconception to assume that going solar means that your lights will be on during loadshedding. If your system is completely off the municipal grid, you will indeed have power when everyone else is sitting in the dark. Energy generated by your solar panels with an off-grid system gets stored in batteries, while grid-tied systems (the one most consumers opt for) store your generated surplus energy in the public utility grid. This is where it becomes crucial to know the difference between off-grid and grid-tied systems. 

Confusing off-grid and grid-tied solar systems

Going off-grid entails not being connected to the utility grid at all. You will generate your own energy that needs to be stored in battery banks for later use. These batteries are quite costly and need to be replaced periodically.

The grid-tied option involves being connected to the city’s power lines. They store the surplus electricity your solar panels generate in the utility grid where you can pull from again when need be. Therefore, you won’t be able to have power during loadshedding. There are options available to remedy the situation. Consult an expert who can inform you about the available options. The grid-tied system is where you save money and get to see a much faster return on your investment.

These are only a few common mistakes that beginners regularly make. The list goes on and is much more extensive than this. The best option to avoid all of these pitfalls and get a better understanding is to make use of professional solar system designers and installers.

Thank you for reading this article. If you feel we have left out any important information or would like to contribute to this site and content, please get in touch with us by leaving a comment or emailing us.

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