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In order to design and install a suitable solar system the following steps are followed:
Step 1: Initial Discussion
An initial discussion is conducted to understand the strategic goals for the installation. Is the aim to save electricity costs, to protect against load shedding and power interruptions, to reduce the carbon footprint etc.
Step 2: Usage Evaluation
An energy logger is installed to measure and log the actual electricity usage, over a period of time. Electricity bills do not provide enough detail do proper designs. Firstly, electricity bills are often estimated and not actually measured. Secondly an electricity bill provides no detail of usage patterns like maximum demand, or usage per day and night. Important data that are recorded on the logger and used in the design of a suitable system are:
- The maximum power used at any point in time. This will influence the inverter choice in terms with maximum power that the unit must be capable of delivering.
- The average electricity usage per day and by extension per month. This will influence the size and number of solar panels needed to cater for the electricity usage.
- The usage pattern in terms of the spit between usage during daylight hours and non daylight ours will influence the battery bank design and capacity.
- Experience showed that in 3 phase systems, loads are more often than not unbalanced. Proposal can be made to balance the loads better. This can ultimately save costs by not designing unnecessary large systems.
See below for the before and after energy logs of an actual domestic project. This is a 4 kW system with 2,4 kW battery capacity.
Energy usage dropped from more than 26 kWh per day to less than 10 kWh per day, providing a saving of more than 60%. This installation started out with modest battery capacity. The battery capacity will be upgraded to 4,8 kW soon and it is estimated that energy usage will reduce to less than 5 kWh per day, i.e. an 80% drop from the starting point.
Step 3: System Design
Once the logged data is available a system can be designed to meet the strategic goals and load requirement exactly. Measurements are also made after installation to confirm that the aims of the design are met.
Step 4: Installation
Once designed, the final step is to install your system so you can enjoy clean and green energy.