Electrical

BASIC SOLAR KNOWLEDGE – PART 1

Author: Mark Blomeyer

There are two types of Solar: Hot Water and Electrical Solar

Ask yourself, do you want to save money or do you want it for the convenience of it or when the lights go out. Research has shown that in the average household, 43% of the power consumed is from your geyser.

So how do we address that? Throw out your existing geyser and install a solar system? No, not at all.

Did you know, we can attach Solar to your existing geyser. The payback is less than 5 years. We leave your heater element connected but controlled, another option is to fit a timer and geyser blanket. This will reduce your running cost by about 5%.  If we attach solar tubes we can achieve up to a 43% saving.

There are two types of solar panels on the market; vacuum tubes and flat plate collectors. There are also two types of geysers; direct and in-direct. We will go into detail in our follow up article.

A PV system also known as a Photovoltaic System is purely for generating electrical power, this system has nothing to do with hot water, however, there are ways of doing it with hot water that I will deal with at a later stage.

To simplify the description of the PV Solar is to relate it to a car. The invertor is the engine of the car, the batteries are the petrol tank and the solar panels on the roof is the petrol bowser at the garage. In other words, the bigger the engine (inverter) the more you can load/ add. The bigger the petrol tank (batteries) the further you can go. The catch is the bigger the petrol tank (batteries) the more petrol (panels) you will require. Does this make sense?

Let’s talk batteries first!

There are basically two categories: Lead acid and Li-ion

The lead acid batteries are lower down on the cost scale. If you wanted to run say a few lights, the lead acid would be my first choice. If you were to power up a house the Li-Ion would be my first choice. What’s the difference you say, lead acid batteries are easy to charge and are easily swapped over for new ones and can add to them if the older battery is less than 6 months old.

This brings me to another very important point, it’s not advisable to connect a new battery to an old battery. The older battery will tap power from the new battery and destroy it within a very short period of time.

The disadvantage of a lead acid battery is that if you want the battery to last for more than 2 -3 years one needs to make sure that the battery never discharges more than 50% of the batteries power.

So, you say to me, I am paying 100% for these batteries but only getting 50% use out of them. Yes, that’s true but some people can’t afford Li-Iron batteries. There you do get 100% out of them.

There are a lot of advantages going for Li-ion as I said, you get 100% use out of them. They never need filling up with distilled water like the lead acid batteries do. They don’t give off hydrogen and they are not as bulky. The downside of Li-ion is that they are relatively expensive and they need specialized charging systems.

In my opinion they are the future. If you can afford this route that’s the way to go. They are compact and can be mounted anywhere. One can always add new Li-Ion batteries to your older ones.

Look out for our next article as we explain more in depth about solar panels and invertors.

7 thoughts on “BASIC SOLAR KNOWLEDGE – PART 1

  1. cannot wait for the follow up article. very educational and the various ways you can keep the lights on. Thank you.

    1. Morning Vish, thanks for the kind words. Our follow up article will be published in the New Year.

  2. I have a system with a lead-acid battery bank that is failing.
    Are you able to quote on lithium batteries?
    I can send system details in follow up.

    1. Morning Paul, thanks for the message. You enquiry has been sent the the sales team and someone will be intouch soon.

  3. Please send me a price list of Solar components.eg Batteries,Invertes .chargers,panels,water heat exchanges

    1. Morning Guy, thanks for the message. Your enquiry has been sent the the sales team and someone will be intouch soon.

  4. We have been very satisfied changing over from lead acid to Lithium ion batteries being assembled at half the price by a CT company. They charge more quickly, at a lower PV voltage, and can be drained far deeper.

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