Photovoltaic System (PV Systems) come in many shapes and sizes, and they consist of solar panels, inverters, batteries, and monitoring equipment. There are of course many different ways to implement the various components. Understanding the energy usage in your business or home will allow you to custom design a solar photovoltaic system to suit your exact business or home requirements. JM Solar uses many tools as required to assist you to custom design the best solution for your needs. Based in Midrand, we are able to supply solutions to Johannesburg, Sandton and Pretoria.
1) Start by asking JM Solar Solutions for an Energy Audit. The energy audit is the window to allow a detailed look at your home or business energy consumption to gain an understanding of your Energy Usage Profile. You need to understand your day time usage as well as night time usage.
Step 1 is to look at the times of the day you can best make use of the blazing sun to reduce your energy costs, the best is to use power (if possible) at "better" times. Certainly, if you are considering a Photovoltaic system, then your goal should be to shift as much energy consumption to the daytime as possible. There are perhaps 5.5 hours of good production time available - the more you can utilize these times the better. Photovoltaic systems are powered by the FREE energy harvested from the sun and are designed to reduce your energy costs (Grid Tie) as well as provide backup power in the case of a power outage (Hybrid System).
Step 2 is to decide your priorities. Cost Reduction, or Energy Backup or BOTH. If Cost Reduction is your priority, you may consider installing a Grid Tied Photovoltaic System. You will need Photovoltaic Panels installed on your roof and a Grid Tie Inverter, which should be installed in an appropriate position preferably near your main DB Board. The DC current generated by the panels will be changed by the inverter into AC Current, which you will "Tie" to the "Grid". Power generated by the panels will power your house during daytime hours and will reduce the energy consumed from your Municipal supply. A properly sized and designed Grid Tie System will optimise your Solar Energy usage and maximise your savings.
Grid Tied Photovoltaic systems can range in size from a couple of panels to 100's of them. A small entry level Grid Tie may cost a few R10's of thousands and range up to several R100's of thousands for a large system. JM Solar is an expert experienced solar energy consultant and can advise you in this regard.
The disadvantage of a Grid Tie system is that you will lose ALL power if the grid goes down.
Your priority may be a Battery Back Up System, in which case you require a system which consists of a specially designed Backup Inverter and a Bank of Batteries. This system will be connected to the electrical equipment deemed by you to be Essential to your lifestyle, such as Lights, Fridge, Alarm System, Gate/Garage motors, TV and DSTV, Computers, etc. The balance of the electrical equipment in your house will be supplied by the "Grid".
The Backup Inverter also converts DC power into AC current, but this time it draws energy from your bank of batteries. It also has the very important task of managing the health of your batteries. A properly configured backup inverter will make sure you get full value from the technology chosen for your storage
The Battery Bank chosen is critical to many aspects of your energy storage and questions need to be asked and discussed to determine which battery technology is the most cost effective solution. Some of the most popular options include OPzS Flooded Cell, Lead Crystal, Lithium Ion, Gel, etc. This becomes a balancing act between function and cost.
It is of course fully possible to COMBINE the above "major" components into either a Multi Hybrid, a Hub2Hybrid System or Victron's new ESS System. There are of course many other options, but for now let's concentrate on these combination solutions.
A Multi Hybrid System combines the Grid Tie system with a Backup System with the battery technology chosen specifically for occational backup. The batteries in this case may last for only a few years to perhaps 10 years, depending on the quality and design. These can also be configured for "Self Consumption", which can extend some of the stored solar energy into the evening by drawing some power from the battery bank.
The final system I will discuss here is called a Hub2Hybrid System. The major difference here is the battery technology which is designed for Surplus Recovery, in effect allowing your Essential electrical equipment to draw surplus energy from your battery bank at night - thereby extending captured and stored solar energy into the evening.
Finally, an Island System may be required. These are particualrly valuable for Farms, Game Lodges, Wilderness Schools, etc., where the provision of electricity is too expensive.
An Island System combines various technologies and operates without a grid presence. These are the ultimate in "Green Solutions"