How does the name Eskom make you feel? Do words like warm and fuzzy, deep discomfort, rising resentment, or burning anger come to mind? How about taking that same emotional energy and turning it into something helpful. Here are some ways to reduce your electricity costs and feel a bit more at peace.
You’re not alone – most households are strug- gling with rising electricity costs and figuring ways to be more energy efficient. And with a bit of help, it’s easy to do this. Around the world, people are buying solar panels and batteries for their homes. The economics are just right. And then there’s the environmental reasons. It’s the right thing to do. But where do you start? Let me break it down.
Why would you buy solar and battery storage for your house?
Solar photovoltaic panels generate electrical en- ergy which is fed into the grid when we connect to the existing house circuit. That energy is then used on site, for any appliances or lights that are switched on. And any excess supply is fed into the grid. For this purpose, we install a two-way meter. For every unit of energy we generate we don’t need to buy it from the grid operator. We can remain connected to the grid for power at night time or if we need to power a large load, such as an oven. Or we can go off-grid for a period such as during load shedding or go off the grid permanently. And it’s for this reason that we need to use batteries.
What’s a good investment?
How does 15% annual return for 30 years sound? For the risk that you’re taking – pretty good I would think.
You want to go for the best return you can get for as long as possible. At a minimum you want to buy high quality components, and good over- all design. You need to ensure that it is correctly installed, according to all applicable safety and compliance regulations. Then you need to be able to monitor the performance of your system and ensure that it is properly maintained if there are any technical problems. Lastly you will do well to choose a supplier that can provide a long guarantee of their workmanship or help you with a warranty claim if any of the components
are faulty. Furthermore – I’d recommend you don’t settle for less than a 10 year / 3000 cycle warranty on any batteries you buy. So, you are going to need lithium-ion batteries. A pure solar PV system with no batteries should have at least a 20-to-30-year life. At a minimum, make sure that whoever installs your system will look after it for at least the first five years. Usually if there are any problems with the design or the key compo- nents, these will come to light within the first few years of operation.
How can you afford this?
1. You can spend the money, if you have this kind of capital to invest. This is probably the smartest route, as you’re not spending any money on interest.
2. You can finance the investment from your own bank or house bond. This is probably the cheapest source of finance as your bank knows your credit record and there’s an underlining asset to secure your credit.
3. You can phase your investment. Rather than buying the full system upfront you can buy it in phases, for example buy a smaller feed in solar array now, add more panels and add the battery system later.
4. You can finance the asset on a lease option, similar to a vehicle, with future options to refinance, pay off or to give back the asset. The lease can be structured to suit your budget, over a longer or shorter period as required
Ralph Berold is the managing director of Sun Ship Technologies, which designs and man- fuacturers high quality solar and lithium battery systems and arranges finance, installation, maintenance services direct for home owners in Africa. For more on Solar please visit www. sunshiptech.com
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