10 Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Energy, Answered

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1. How much does a solar system cost?

The cost varies depending on the size of the system, which is in turn determined by your energy requirement. It is recommended to engage a qualified technician to evaluate your requirement and propose an appropriate system size as well as its costing. See our article on cost of installing solar in Kenya

2. Do I need to do a separate wiring for the solar system?

NO. Solar power will be integrated into the existing electrical wiring. In other words, solar will use the same wires that KPLC is using. You will only need additional wires to connect the solar panels from the roof to the inverter, and from the inverter to your consumer unit.

3. Do I need to change my bulbs and home appliances?

NO. An inverter will be one of the components that will come with your solar system. Its work will be to convert the solar/battery power from 12/24/48 volts DC to 240 volts AC, which is the same voltage that you get from the grid.

4.  Will solar power come ON automatically when there is a blackout?

Yes. The system will be fully automated, and you can set conditions when solar should be used. However, solar power should not be perceived as back-up power for use only when mains power fails.

What if there is no blackout for many days, what will happen to all the solar energy generated every day? You have spent a lot of money on this system, you need to use it as the primary source and only use the utility to meet the deficit in energy/power supply.

5. Can all household appliances run on solar?

Yes, but it is recommended to avoid using heating appliances (iron box, kettle, cooker, instant shower etc) on the solar system. These appliances reduce the life of your inverter and require your
system to be oversized, hence making it more expensive. During installation of solar, the wiring will be done in such a way that the sockets dedicated for these appliances will not get solar power, but only get power from the utility.

6. How will I be switching between solar and utility?

Under normal operation, the system will be configured to automatically do the switching based on pre-set conditions. Additionally, a change-over switch will be installed for manual switching when there is need, e.g., during maintenance.

7. How long will the solar equipment last?

Reputable equipment manufacturers give a performance guarantee of 20- 25 years for solar panels, 8-15 years for inverters and charge controllers, and 5-8 years for solar batteries. That is in addition to the 1-year standard equipment warranty. A good installer should also give you workmanship warranty, typically 1 year.

8.  How much savings can I realize with solar?

If you are not connected to the national grid, solar can cater for up to 100% of your power needs. However, to avoid an unrealistically expensive system, it is recommended to only run essential appliances. If you are connected to the grid, having solar cover 70-80% of your power needs is usually a good percentage to optimize your cost of energy.

9.  What is the cost of operation and maintenance for a solar system?

A well designed system that is professionally installed will have very little need for ongoing maintenance. The fact that fixed tilt solar systems don’t have moving parts is a major factor that minimizes the operation & maintenance cost. The main things to look out for are signs of movement, degradation, ingress, pests, and damage. Most of these can be corrected by the owner, but it is recommended to have your installer check the system at least once every year.

10. What other benefits can I realize with solar?

  • Comfort & Convenience: You get to bid goodbye to power blackouts. When it happens, it is only a few items (the heating appliances) that will not have power. Many of my clients say they do not even notice when there is a blackout.
  • Promoting green energy: From the moment you install solar, your contribution to reduction in carbon emissions starts counting. You immediately start contributing to making the world a better place for future generations.

 

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