Solar Homes - Solar Power Guide
SolarHomes is a website for people that are passionate about solar power and other forms of renewable energy. Our aim is to promote the use of solar power in South Africa. We do this by providing useful information and tips as well as examples of people who who use solar systems to power their homes. We believe there are some really great solar power solutions out there, that will soon transform the whole energy industry.
This site has categories for general solar information, photovoltaic panels and solar thermal. We try to keep the site as up to date as possible and are constantly adding more articles.
We also have a solar companies web directory of South African solar power companies. If you are a solar specialist or own, manage or market a solar power related business, then you can add a listing there.
Since we launched this website in early 2011, we have aimed at creating the number one source for people to find information on solar power related to South Africa. With the help of Tony Clark and others we believe Solar Homes is well on the way to achieving this goal.
Written by Heidi Oosthuizen
Solar energy isn’t new. Even the Romans and the Greeks used mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy. South Africa has so much sunlight that millions of householders could install solar panels on their rooftops and generate electricity to feed into the national grid.
Environmental concerns are also driving governments and consumers away from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants, in comparison to which solar power is a much cleaner source of energy.
Written by Tony Clark
In 2000, my wife and I sold our home and purchased another, in a different suburb. At our new home, my wife wanted to install a swimming pool; I wanted to install Solar panels and a Grid Connect Inverter. We both ended up having what we wanted, although I ended up being the one to clean the pool.
We installed a 1500Wp system on the roof of the garage, which comprised 15 100Wp Shell solar panels and a Selectronic SEAG 1500 inverter. The solar panels were installed on a frame, which allowed them to be elevated in winter, and lowered for summer, to maximize power generation during those seasons.
This was very reliable, even surviving a thunderstorm, which destroyed the power meter at our house.
This is a guide to the different types of solar panels and cells available in South Africa. A price list has also been provided.
Types Of Solar Panels
Mono-crystalline Solar Panels
Mono-crystalline Solar Panels are very efficient, even in low-light conditions, because they are made of one large crystal of silicon. They are not common as they are more expensive than Poly-crystalline Solar Panels to manufacture. Mono-crystalline Solar Panels can be ground-mounted or roof-mounted.
Poly-crystalline Solar Panels
Poly-crystalline Solar Panels are not quite as efficient as Mono-crystalline Solar Panels, but are the most common type because they are less expensive to manufacture. They are made of many small silicon crystals. Poly-crystalline Solar Panels can be ground-mounted or roof-mounted.
Amorphous or Thin-Film Solar Panels
Amorphous Solar Panels are less efficient than the above two types, therefore they require a larger surface area for the same level of power generation. However they are the cheapest to manufacture. They are made of a thin film of molten silicon that is spread across large plates of stainless steel.
A great advantage of Amorphous Solar Panels over the above two is that they continue to charge when only part of the solar panel receives sun.
They work better in hot climates than traditional solar panels and work well on large vehicles and ships.
Many people believe that home solar power systems will eventually replace fossil-fuel based energy sources as the way that most people power their homes. This free and never-ending way to create energy is a much better way to create power for your home, and is more affordable than ever.
So, what is the most important thing that you should know about home solar power systems?
Did you know that the amount of energy that is absorbed into the earth, ocean and atmosphere every hour is more than the entire amount of energy that mankind used in the entire year of 2002. That's what MIT's publication "Powering the Planet: Chemical Challenges in Solar Energy Utilization" states. The earth absorbs energy from the sun in the form of heat and light, and the advent of home solar power systems means that the average citizen and homeowner can now put that energy to use!
That said, the most important thing you need to know about home solar power systems is that you can continue making electricity as long as the sun keeps on shining. Even if everyone had one of these amazing systems, you wouldn't run out of energy. These systems are now available to homeowners in the form of photovoltaic solar cells, which convert sun energy into electricity and solar geysers that transfer the sun's energy directly to water, making it hot enough for ordinary home use. The solar cells that most people use for their home solar power systems are arranged into a solar panel.