How much power do I need?
This depends on the load of the property and what you want to achieve. Small residential systems range from 3kWp – 5kWp, producing roughly 15kWh-25kWh / units per day. Larger systems up to 15kWp /20kWp systems are available for larger properties with loads above 100kWh per day.
How much will I spend?
Naturally this depends on what you want to achieve and the size of system you want to install. Grid Tied systems are less expensive than systems with battery back up. Please see our pricing guide included in our website.
What is the difference between AC and DC?
AC is alternating current and is what is supplied to your property from the grid (220V) Three-phase properties use 330V across three phases (110V per phase)
DC is direct current and is what is supplied from the solar panels (12V)
We need an inverter to change the DC from the roof/batteries into AC for the property
Batteries take DC from the solar when charging and supply DC to the inverter which then supplies AC to the property.
Do I need batteries or can I feed into the grid?
Almost all solar systems will have spare production during the day when the load is lower than the production. In this case the system can send the spare power to batteries or into the grid. If there is neither available, it will reduce production and “throttle down”
If you are not feeding spare power into the grid, you should invest in batteries to store spare power. In addition, during load shedding, the batteries will keep your solar working and protect the property. Grid Tied systems feeding back into the grid will, however, go down if the grid is down.
Batteries are not needed but they do add to savings, through self-consumption, and protect the property during load shedding.
What is Self Consumption?
This is the term which refers to when the solar system produces spare power during the day which is used to charge the batteries, after which it is used during the day to support a spike in the load when solar cannot assist. So before using the grid, the batteries will discharge, and then re-charge when there is spare power. This is known as self-consumption as the property self consumed the solar it produced and stored, discharged and re-charged.
What are Grid Tied vs Off Grid solar systems?
A grid tied solar system is tied to the grid so it needs the grid to work. There is no load shedding protection and the system will NOT work if there is no grid.
Off grid systems work independently from the grid, and although they can be connected t the grid, they are also connected to a battery bank. When the grid goes down, the system uses the batteries to keep the solar working and supply a combination of power to the house.
Many systems are hybrid systems which combine grid and battery back up.
How long will my batteries last?
In the past, batteries were the weak link and needed regular replacing, maintenance and care, however, new technologies in the industry have massively improved battery quality and life span. Most Lithium Ion batteries come with a 10 year warranty / 4, 500 cycles, with super Lithium batteries now capable of 20, 000 cycles.
Lead Acid batteries will last 3-5 years depending on usage but we do not recommend Lead Acid for solar systems as Lithium is now affordable and far superior.
Do I need to register my system with the City of Cape Town?
Yes, all systems must be registered with the City of Cape Town, and Northface Solar will assist with all the paperwork and engineering design and diagrams required. You must ensure that the inverters used in the system are on the list of approved inverters with the City of Cape Town. Again, all inverters used by Northface Solar are listed.
What happens in Winter?
Unfortunately the sun does not shine all year around and you can expect up to a 50%/60% decrease in production over the 2/3 months (June to August). During this time the battery charging and feed in will decrease and the property will use more grid electricity as a result. We do not size our systems for winter as this leads to over capitalisation and over production in summer.