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General

  • What Sets Utility Africa Apart?

    Utility Africa’s team of engineers have more than 40 years of combined experience in the energy field with solar systems from 100w to 5 MW. We additionally partnered with Specialized Solar System (Pty) Ltd with more than 15 years of experience in installations and manufacturing of equipment.

  • Why Solar?

    Start with WHY, this will always be the first question that you need to ask yourself.

    • Would I like to not be affected by load shedding?;
    • How much would I like to save on my electricity bill?,
    • Would I like to not be dependent on my Municipality?
    • What is my budget?

     

  • Technical

  • What solar systems are there?

    A photovoltaic system turns the light emitted by the sun into useful power. It consists of the solar array and the other system components. Grid-tied vs Hybrid systems, residential vs. commercial systems, distributed vs. centralized systems, rooftop vs. ground-mounted systems, systems are some of the differences between PV systems. Other comparisons may include microinverter systems versus central inverter systems, crystalline silicon systems versus thin-film technology, and module systems.

    PV systems range in size from tiny rooftop-mounted to large solar farms covering hectares with from a few kiloWatts (kW) (1000 Watt) to GigaWatt (GW) (1 000 000 000 Watt) capacity.Most PV systems are now grid-connected, with off-grid or stand-alone systems accounting for a tiny percentage of the market.

  • How to attach PV panels to my roof?

    PV arrays need to be mounted on a strong and durable structure that supports the array and can withstand decades of wind, rain, hail, and corrosion. These structures tilt the PV array at a fixed angle determined by the latitude of the area, the orientation of the structure, and the requirements of the electrical load. To achieve the highest annual energy yield, the module is oriented just south of the Northern Hemisphere and tilted at an angle corresponding to the latitude of the region. Rack mounts are currently the most popular method due to their robustness, versatility, and ease of construction and installation. More sophisticated and cheaper methods continue to be developed.

  • How to convert Solar power into electricity? (What your inverter does?)

    Inverters are used to convert direct current (DC) generated by photovoltaic panels into alternating current (AC). Alternating current (AC) is used for local power transmission and most household equipment. PV systems have either an inverter that converts the power generated by all modules into usable electricity. Single inverters are generally cheap and easy to cool and maintain when needed.

  • PV system

    Our advanced inverters with smart metering enable two-way communication between the inverter and the utility company or micro-grid. This helps balance supply and demand, either automatically or via remote communication with the network operator. By gaining this insight (and possible control) of supply and demand, utilities can reduce costs, ensure grid stability, and reduce the likelihood of power outages.

  • Storage

    Batteries enable the storage of solar photovoltaic energy, allowing it to be used to power our houses at night or when weather conditions prevent sunlight from reaching PV panels or during load-shedding. The greater usage of batteries will aid in the modernisation and stabilisation of our country’s electric system.

  • What design considerations are used to determine the correct Solar system for my need?

    As soon as one of your team contact you, they will ask the following questions. Each question will help to size and specify your design differently.

    1) Your contact information and your location (GPS coordinates)

    Contact information will allow us to provide you with your proposal. The GPS coordinates are used to model your house by using satellite information. The satellite information can be used to indicate the gradient, orientation, shading and available space on the roof.

    2) The purpose of the electrical system

    Utility Africa’s purpose is to solve your electrical needs and not just to provide a solar PV system. We design each system based on your specific needs from:

    • Reducing your electrical bill
    • Protecting you and your business from load-shedding
    • Getting off the grid
    • Taking my business or estate offline
    • Or a combination of a few.

    3) The twelfth month of electrical bills and your usage patterns

    Our electrical bills indicate your average usage per month and current tariff structure. Utility Africa would recommend the correct tariff structure if a better option is available.

    4) Installation considerations

    Practical information from your building is required to ensure the quotation is accurate.

    • Location and condition of DB board(s) and the number of DB board(s)

    We would have to add circuit breakers on your DB board and separate the critical and non-critrical circuits.

    • Location of battery and inverter installation?

    We would further like to place the inverter within 10 m radius of the DB board to reduce cost and ease installation. Installation requires 2m by 2m wall area in a well ventilated space.

  • Do you need a COC for my PV installation?

    Once your solar PV system has been installed, it’s essential to ensure that a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) is issued. What is it, and why do you need it?

    Basically, this document checks that the electrician who performed the installation has complied with the rules and regulations that are in place to ensure a safe installation. CoC is also essential for your insurance company.

  • Insurance for your PV system

    As the property owner, you are responsible for the safety of the electrical installation on your property in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Without a valid electrical CoC, you will be unable to prove that you have taken reasonable precautions should anything go wrong. Insurance companies might not pay out for damages, and if someone is injured or dies as a result of the installation, you could be held liable as the property owner.

  • PV panels

    Large solar panels are put onto your roof at home or at your business that takes the sun’s rays and converts them into direct-current (DC) electricity. This is attached to your roof, where the panels will obtain the most sunlight during a normal day.

  • Inverter

    These panels connect up with an inverter that converts the direct current (DC) into usable alternating current (AC), just like the AC adaptors we use to charge our cell phones, TVs or computers, which we can use to power your home or business.

  • Battery

    When you add batteries for energy storage, you can have power even when the grid is down or optimise the extra power generated during daylight hours and used during the night. Alternatively, the extra stored electricity can be sold back into the grid to your utility by a process called Net Metering/Banking.

  • Hybrid system and Utility

    The solar PV system’s inverter connects to your electrical network at your home or business and integrates with your utility’s grid. You get the best of both worlds – electricity from your solar system when the sun is shining and from the grid when you need it, which means you always have electricity.

    Your battery and your system can be further optimised by separating your circuits into critical and non-critical or identifying what must run during load-shedding and what is okay not to run during load-shedding.

  • Is LiFePO4 or Lithium-Ion or Lithium Iron batteries the same thing?

    A lithium-ion battery (or Li-Ion) is a battery that uses lithium cobalt dioxide (LiCoO2) or lithium manganese oxide (LiMn2O4) as a cathode/positive part and can also be a LiFePO4 battery.

    A lithium-iron battery refers explicitly to a battery that is manufactured out of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) as the cathode material; the “Li” is for Lithium, the “Fe” is for Iron, and “PO4” stands for phosphate.

    You could say that Lithium-iron is a member of the lithium-ion battery family, A Lithium iron battery is a lithium-ion battery as well, but not every lithium-ion battery is a Lithium Iron battery.

  • Solar funding option and Start at buy

  • Solar funding options (FAQ)

    Your Power Your Choice

    You should have options when it comes to your electricity bill. We’re here to give you information and recommendations so you can pick what makes the most sense.

    a) Buy

    Pros:

    1. Increase the Value of Your Home by 5-8%
    2. Get Paid For Excess Power through local Net-Metering Programs (Depending on area)

    Cons:

    1. Large Upfront Cost or Long-term Loan ( We assist with the required documentation)
    2. If Panels aren’t Covered by Warranties, Have to Pay Out of Pocket for any Maintenance Costs.

    b) Lease

    Pros:

    1. Get Panels Installed on House for No Cost
    2. Majority of Homeowners Qualify For Leased Panels
    3. Company Maintains and Insures Panels for their 25-Year Lifespan

    Cons:

    1. The homeowner only gets a small portion of the savings that come from going solar
    2. A built-in escalator means that monthly bills will go up by 4% a year
    3. It makes it more challenging to sell the home. We, however work with you to either move the lease over to the new owner or give buying lease out.

    c) PPA (Power Purchase Agreement)

    1. Get Panels Installed on House for No Cost
    2. Majority of Homeowners Qualify For PPA Panels
    3. Company Maintains and Insures Panels for their 25-Year Lifespan

    Cons:

    1. Aren’t eligible for any tax credits
    2. The homeowner only gets a small portion of the savings that come from going solar
    3. A built-in escalator means that monthly bills will go up by 2.99% a year
    4. It makes it more challenging to sell your building and business