Solar, battery back-up or generator when the power goes out?

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Solar, battery back-up or generator when the power goes out?

A good option to consider, if you are looking for a long-term solution to ensure power during load shedding is a hybrid solar system. It will provide enough power to keep essentials running during power outages as well as enable you to save money on electricity. The system allows you to harvest renewable energy from the sun, use it to power some of your loads, and store it in batteries for periods of load shedding.

A solar hybrid system consists of:

  • batteries that provide energy security during load shedding.
  • solar panels that provide energy savings.
  • a hybrid inverter that controls the energy flow between the grid, solar panels, batteries and electrical loads.

A hybrid inverter can choose between using the batteries or grid as a power source for your essential loads and will supplement this power with the energy generated from solar panels.

The batteries will keep your essentials running when the grid goes down.

Installing solar panels will also mean that you are doing your bit to lessen national demand for electricity, helping Eskom to reduce the need for load shedding.

While a hybrid solar system brings you some freedom from load shedding and rising electrical tariffs, it does come at an initial cost.

Luckily, hybrid solar systems are modular and can be installed in stages, allowing you to spread the cost over time. You can start with the inverter and batteries and add solar panels later, or you could start with solar panels and add batteries later.

It all depends on what your priorities are: energy security when the grid goes down (batteries) or savings on electricity (solar panels). Solar panels will pay for themselves in electricity savings over several years.

For battery back-up systems, lithium-ion batteries are recommended over lead-acid (deep cycle AGM) batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have a higher upfront cost, but last 10 years or more compared with the two-to-three-year lifespan of lead-acid batteries.

Over a decade, the lithium-ion solution will be around 25% cheaper than replacing lead-acid batteries as their lifespan ends.

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