There is a huge opportunity to save money and help the environment by saving on your electricity consumption. We are here to answer any of your questions.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) is a technology that has been around since the 70’s - effectively you put large glass-looking solar PV panels on your roof at home or at your business that takes the sun’s rays and converts them into electricity. These panels connect up with an inverter, just like the AC adaptors we use to charge our cell phones, TVs or computers, and convert the direct current (DC) into usable alternating current (AC) which we can use to power our home or building.
The simplest and cheapest system is grid-tied; the solar PV system is installed to be tied to the grid or network. When the network goes down during load shedding, so does your solar system.
The next option is called off-grid, which includes batteries for backup power. Here, kWhs generated from your solar system are stored in large battery banks. But what makes this setup so unique is that you act like an island and are completely removed from the grid. It doesn't matter if Eskom is up or load shedding, you run a system that is completely independent. This usually comes with a large upfront cost due to the number of batteries needed as well solar PV panels.
The last option is called a hybrid system, which combines the best of both a grid-tied and off-grid system. Here, you are still connected to the network and have a number of batteries for backup. When load shedding happens, you can run a number of your appliances for a period of time. This depends on how many batteries you have and how your system is connected.
Installing your own solar system at home or at your business will allow you to save a substantial amount on your current electricity bill, as you will be generating your own electricity supplied directly to you. This also means that you start becoming independent from Eskom or your local municipality, and if you have a large enough battery system included to run all your appliances, you can operate completely off-grid and independently.
Your solar system will increase your property value as solar is a highly valued asset to mitigate the inconvenience of load shedding. It will also make your property more marketable due to lower electricity running costs for any prospective buyer.
Should you decide to install solar at your home, you will save money on your electricity bills as well as avoid rising electricity costs going forward. The savings will be dependent on the type of solar you install as well as associated and supporting solar and municipality by-laws.
The cost of your solar PV system is dependent on the size of your home or business, the amount of roof space available and the kind of solar PV system you want (grid-tied, off grid or hybrid). The savings also depend on the cost of electricity based on which municipality provides you with electricity at the moment. In general, solar PV paybacks vary from 3 - 8 years.
Depending on the complexity of your installation, lead times from order to switch-on can be between 1 to 12 weeks. A major contributing factor is stock availability, but as part of the Investec Spark programme, we will ensure that all accredited solar providers have local stock available to participate in the programme to keep lead times at their minimum.
Your home or business premises will determine the complexity of your installation. The solar providers will talk you through the process and plan to make the installation as unobtrusive as possible.
This is where Spark comes in - we only provide you with quotes that are from accredited solar providers that we have vetted. You will be matched with a solar provider in your area to ensure the best possible service and quickest turnaround time.
You will have the choice to choose batteries as part of your quote request - when adding batteries to your solar system, you will be able to run select loads and appliances off-grid and protect yourself from load shedding. Battery technology has come a long way and typically lasts between 5 - 10 years depending on use, weather conditions and technology.
Solar systems need to be inspected annually and cleaned on a regular basis depending on where you live. The cleaning has to be done by a professional who is certified to work at heights - our accredited solar providers have teams to ensure that your system is maintained properly.
Spark offers all Investec clients a package with a 5-year inclusive Operations and Maintenance service for your solar system - this means that all costs for maintenance, inspections and cleaning are included in your solar system’s price.
At this stage, the regulation is dependent on the municipality that your property is connected to. Certain municipalities like the City of Cape Town have started a feed-in tariff that allows you to be paid for the kWhs (kilowatt hours) you push into the grid. However, these rates are often very low. Hopefully this will change in the future as regulation opens up for the private energy market, much like the UK, Germany and Australia, for example.
It depends on the size of your house and the number of appliances and loads you have. The typical solar system is between 3 - 7 kWp in size, which equates to between 12 to 28 solar PV panels. The average consumption of a 300 sqm house typically has a bill of R2,000 per month and a 3 kWp solar PV can save up to R900 per month depending on your current electricity cost and charges from your local municipality.
Your solar system is integrated into your electrical network - once installed it works seamlessly. That said, you can turn it off and on at the inverter and breaker; however, this should only be done by a certified electrician and solar technician.
If you choose to add batteries to your solar system, your installation will be able to store the electricity generated from solar in the batteries. The amount of hours that you can run your appliances from the batteries depends on the size of your battery installation as well as the loads and appliances you run. Low wattage LED lights and appliances like TVs and computers use very little electricity, but running an electrical stove, heater or geyser will deplete your stored electricity very quickly.
Solar systems are designed to be retro-fitted to your existing home or business. There are design and system benefits to include solar in the building process of a new home or building, but in either scenario an accredited solar provider will be able to assist you. The question is: Are you ready to take your power back and become independent of Eskom?
Not particularly, as there are a number of different roof-mounting systems available that allow solar systems to be installed on top of flat concrete, IBR and tile-roof types. There are even options to mount the solar PV panels on top of car-port structures and they can even be mounted to the ground.
To optimize your solar system, location and placement of the solar PV panels is key. In South Africa you preferably have the solar PV panels at a slight angle facing either north or a combination of east and west. This means that the solar PV panels will most likely be visible on the roof to you and your neighbours. In more developed markets, solar systems are seen as a socially-responsible asset to generate clean and green power, which often subsidises the aesthetic compromise, if any.
Solar systems are very safe to install, if done by an accredited Solar Provider, which is where Spark comes in. The installations will follow industry standards in terms of quality and compliance.
A compliant solar system installation will have the correct earthing in place and lightning protection can be added for additional protection. The solar PV panels are resilient and can withstand hail, but damage can occur depending on the size of the hail.Should any damage occur, the Investec Spark programme also includes insurance with AON to give you peace of mind.
Your insurance policy will need to be updated and your premiums will increase to include the cover on your solar system. However, the savings drastically outweigh the increase in your insurance costs.
Solar energy is a renewable energy resource. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change. It also has less air pollutants which may cause health problems.
We are on a mission to accelerate the adoption of solar rooftop to move us towards a lower-carbon future, faster.