Solar panels are an energy saving home power solution that can help dramatically reduce both your power bill and your carbon footprint.Installing them is relatively simple and they are a one-time installation.

Many commercial and residential properties use solar panels as part of their energy plan and the use is only growing in popularity. 

Let’s look over some important factors that you need to consider before installing a solar panel system in your own home or business. This is a fairly big decision and you need to have at least your basic facts straight if you want to go ahead with it.

Basic Considerations

As a first step towards setting up your own solar power system, you will need to calculate your approximate energy requirements and how much of that you can expect to cover with a solar size you can afford.

There are online solar calculators that can help with this.

Your monthly and annual energy consumption can be easily found just by looking at your monthly electrical bills over a range of several months and calculating an average annual consumption.

If your energy bills are particularly high, then you might also consider ways in which you can lower them to some extent by cutting back on using electrical lighting unnecessarily, shutting off certain appliances and maybe buying less energy intensive home appliances.

You may also consult a professional electrician on how you can optimise your electrical wiring and lighting locations at home to reduce your overall electricity consumption.

Solar Heating Systems Help You Save Even More On Bills

With your energy consumption calculated, you need to know how much peak sunlight you can expect for where you live. This is going to vary greatly depending on where you live but generally speaking you should be able to count on at least a few hours of peak sunlight per day for half the year.

Furthermore, to improve this, your panels should be installed on a northward facing surface for maximal sun exposure.

The average South African home uses about 14,000 watt hours per day of electricity. You’ll want to cover as much of this as possible with your solar panel system.

How Much for How Much Energy?

So, given that the average home uses about 14,000 watt hours per 24 hour day in powering its main electrical devices (except the heating and cooking appliances), how much solar panel coverage will you need to almost completely meet the needs of your power consumption?

Well, modern PV (photo voltaic) cells generate about 70 miliwatts per square inch; this means that if you can get 4 hours of usable sunlight per day, you’d be receiving about 280 miliwatt hours per inch per day.

With these quantities, you’d need to install at least 51,000 square inches of solar paneling; this amounts to 354 square feet of panels. These will provide you with an estimated 14,000 watt hours during their peak operating times under perfect conditions.

However, since you won’t normally get perfect conditions and because the sun only shines for a fraction of each day, actual energy savings from such system may be somewhat less than complete.

Furthermore, to improve this, your panels should be installed on a northward facing surface for maximal sun exposure.

Nonetheless, these 354 square feet (assuming you live in a typical middle class home) will still drastically reduce your annual power bill by as much as 90%.

Equipment Requirements

Solar energy systems for homes don’t just consist of a series of glass panels. These are the most visible part of the whole arrangement, but hardly the only one.

In addition to the numerous photo voltaic cells or modules, you will also have to install two other principal components. These are the electricity inverter unit, which turns the solar system DC power current into the AC current that powers your home, and a solar backup battery, which can store extra energy for when there is no solar power coming to the PV system in your yard or on your roof.

Certain modern PV solar panels actually have their own built-in micro inverters attached to each one of the individual cells.

These are beneficial because they allow you to grow your solar system however you please without having to replace inverters to fit expanding or shrinking size requirements.

They also allow for easier installation and lose less energy absorption ability under conditions of partial shade.


The most important question of all to the budget conscious green thinking homeowner; cost is a big reason why solar power isn’t more common in places.

Even though prices have steadily been dropping as the home-based solar energy market expands, PV solar systems are still a significant and huge investment.

A Solar System such as our example above will probably cost you a minimum of R132,000 for the panels, inverter and battery storage system.

For an accurate estimate of solar pricing for your specific property or home, consider using an online solar calculator.

A key cost reduction factor will be in the energy reduction measures you take. This means that before you even install your system, you should have switched to energy-saving appliances, reduced the use of unnecessary lighting and decreased the number of unneeded electronics in your home. Contact us to install new energy electrical appliances and lighting.