Ahoy readers! As promised, we’re back with another insightful guide that’ll help you in your journey of switching to the solar way of living.
Since you’re here, we’re sure you have made a firm decision to install a solar system at home – considering the fantastic benefits we mentioned the last time.
As we always say,
‘Mythology and technology have one thing in common – THE SUN! For the former, it’s God. For the latter, it’s no less than God!’
The Sun’s capacity to generate electricity for the entire planet forever is no less than a miracle! It’s a blazing solar furnace that won’t ever exhaust.
All that you now need is a solar system to capture enough sunlight and churn out electricity that can power up your house. But, the million-dollar question is – how do you know which solar system is the right one for you?
There are many types of solar modules. A solar panel is formed when multiple modules are stacked together. Which one’s the perfect match for you gets influenced by many factors. Those are the factors that you should consider when buying a solar system.
Intrigued? Don’t want to make mistakes while making an investment? We hear you!
This guide has been curated for all you environment-conscious, curious minds. Learn the basics with us before investing your hard-earned money. Dive in!
Part 2: Top 6 Things to Focus on before choosing a solar system
“Every 24 hours, enough sunlight touches the Earth to provide the energy for the entire planet for 24 years.
Solar energy can save the Earth. You can do your bit by installing a rooftop solar system. In order to ensure that you install the right one, you have to buy the right one.
The upcoming pointers will walk you through the six focus points that’ll never let you go wrong!
#1. On-grid Vs Off-grid – What’s your pick?
The on-grid rooftop solar system is by far the best means to power up your house. The meter at your home will be replaced with a bi-directional meter. A bi-directional meter brings to life the fascinating concept of net metering.
A solar system produces mammoth amounts of solar energy from 9 AM to 4 PM. The electricity that’s generated in excess is supplied to the grid. The bidirectional meter facilitates this solution.
Later during the day when the sun goes down, the electricity you exported can be imported back from the grid and used to power up your house.
Here’s the best part about an on-grid solar system: If your solar system generates more electricity than you can consume, the extra units you exported to the discom will be deducted from your next month’s electricity bill. It means you’ll save even more money.
An off-grid solar system is an entirely isolated island that has nothing to do with the grid. There’s a battery that stores the power generated by the Sun. In other words, it’s the battery that runs the house.
Here’s the best part about an off-grid solar system: The government might not have reached your village yet, but the Sun has always been present. Using an off-grid solar system is an intriguing option to power up your homes when there’s no grid.
But, both types have certain flaws:
- – If there’s a power failure, the on-grid system will stop working. Although this eliminates safety risks, it also results in power outages. Hence, an on-grid system is most beneficial in urban places where there’s a minimum power cut.
- – With an off-grid system, you will always need a battery. The battery has a limited life and a branded solar system lasts for 25 years. Hence, installing an off-grid system can be expensive. But, if you’re based in a rural area that doesn’t have a grid, you can count on this solar system.
What’s the right pick then?
If you reside in cities with a reliable grid, it’s most recommended that you stick with the on-grid solar systems.
If there’s no electricity grid and you’re in a rural area, an off-grid solar system will be a good companion to power up your house.
#2. The right capacity – What’s the right size of a solar system for your home?
One of the most confusing things for customers is to choose between different sizes of solar systems – there are 2 KW, 3 KW, 5 KW, 10 KW, and so much more. How do you pick the right one? Fret not, we’re here to guide you.
Three things that define the term “right” are:
- Your average monthly power consumption
- Shadow-free space on your roof
- The sanctioned load
How is all this relevant? Here’s a step-by-step introduction to the basics of solar!
The concept of power consumption
- – Every 1 KW solar system produces roughly 1400 units of electricity per year i.e. roughly 116 units/month.
- – If your average consumption is 1000 units a month, you need an 8.6 KW solar system (1000/116). Unnecessarily installing a much larger or a much smaller solar system will be an economical setback.
The concept of shadow-free rooftop space
Space is one of the biggest ifs: even if the rooftop is big but most of the area is clouded by shadows, it’s as big a limitation as a rooftop with limited space.
Solar panels use light to churn electricity. The more sunlight, the higher the yield. A single polycrystalline solar panel requires 100 sq. feet of shadow-free area. Do you have that much space?
If you don’t there are options (to be explained a little later in this guide).
The sanctioned load
No matter if you need a 5 KW solar system, if the load approved by the discom is lower than that, you can’t install the system as it is. You’ll have to file an application to get the load increased.
These three factors combined decide the best option for you.
#3. Picking a solar installation company – how to pick the best one?
Albert Einstein once said: “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
So, the point is not in knowing but in understanding that not all solar companies are the same.
Although it isn’t rocket science to figure out the right size of the solar system after we’ve served you with the basics, there are many limitations that are best resolved when left in the hands of experts.
Almost everybody says, picking the right solar installation company will solve all the problems, but no one tells you how – we will.
Ask yourself the following questions –
- Does the company offer financing options like zero-cost EMI?
- Does the company help with easy loan approvals?
- Does the company offer after-installation maintenance services?
- Does the company help with the paperwork needed to get the load changed?
- Does the company offer pre-fabricated tier-1 solar mounting structures?
If even a single point is being missed out, you’re gambling with your money. It might be in the wrong hands.
#4. Choosing the module’s technology – why does it matter?
Flashback: we said we’ll let you know how to overcome the space issues, didn’t we? Here’s the solution – picking the right technology.
There are two main technologies: polycrystalline and monocrystalline. Polycrystalline solar panels are cost-effective, but they occupy more space.
Monocrystalline solar panels, on the other hand, consume less space. How? One monocrystalline module can produce more power than one polycrystalline module of the same size.
If, say, you need 4 polycrystalline solar panels to power your house, you might need only 2 or 3 monocrystalline solar panels. Hence, monocrystalline solar panels are better when space is an issue.
Here’s where the game changes: monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient but they’re also more expensive than polycrystalline solar panels. Budget will, thus, be a deciding factor too.
Some people also choose polycrystalline solar panels because the Indian government, as of now, offers a subsidy on these panels only. That’s because these are the only entirely made-in-India panels. And it takes a DCR, ALMM-approved module to avail of a subsidy.
Want to know a little more about the subsidy’s equation in the country? Check out the next point.
#5. Subsidy on solar panels in India: How can you get a subsidy?
Here comes the icing on the cake: The Indian government is trying proactively to encourage more and more residential customers to switch to solar. Hence, they’re offering financial help in the form of a subsidy on solar panels up to 10 KW.
There are some conditions to avail of a subsidy though:
- – The panels should be DCR (Made in India) and ALMM-approved.
- – The system should be an on-grid rooftop solar system.
- – A subsidy is available for just homeowners and housing societies; not commercial establishments.
Click here to decode solar subsidy in India like never before.
And there’s more:
PM Narendra Modi launched a National Portal for Rooftop Solar on the 30th of July, 2022. It’s different from the state-run subsidy programme. Also known as the DBT (Direct Bank Transfer) scheme, here, you will get the subsidy amount credited into your bank accounts within 30 days after the commissioning of the solar system.
Here’s a very informative read on DBT and how it is different from the state-run subsidy programme.
#6. Facts Vs Myths: Which rumors shouldn’t bother you?
Rumors are always the most upsetting things even in general. So, we’ve shed some light on reality in the form of myths and facts.
|A solar system would look ugly on the rooftop.
|A well-installed solar system is an aesthetic addition to the rooftop.
|The solar system won’t generate any power when it gets cloudy since there wouldn’t be enough heat.
|Although the power generation capacity would be low, your solar system will still produce electricity when it gets cloudy. It’s light from the Sun that produces electricity, not heat.
|Solar system installation will hurt the pocket.
|Solar energy is free. Electricity from the Sun doesn’t cost a penny.
|Solar systems require frequent maintenance.
|Not only are they easy to install, but solar systems are also easy to maintain.
|The sales value of the house decreases when there’s a solar panel on the roof.
|Homes that have a rooftop solar system have a higher sales value than other homes in the same vicinity.
|By installing a higher-capacity solar system, you can sell extra units, and earn lots of money.
|The extra units are sold at petty rates. At the end of the year, they get lapsed.
Titbits of solar panel installation you shouldn’t miss out on
- Solar panels are south-facing because maximum sunlight falls in the South direction in India.
- Solar panels get the maximum sunlight when they’re perpendicular to the Sun. Hence, the mounting angle varies.
- The Southernmost cities in India install solar panels with about a 10-degree tilt. That’s the angle when the Sun will be near-perpendicular to the solar panels.
- As you move towards the North, the angle starts increasing. It’s more than 20 degrees in North India.
If you ever want to shift your solar system to a new location, call your solar installation company to do the job for you.
Thomas Edison once said:
“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that”
And, Ralph Nader once quoted:
“The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun”
It’s fascinating that what these great scientists once believed about solar energy has now become a reality.
Did you know that the utility firms in Maharashtra will soon levy Fuel Adjustment Charges, increasing your electricity bills by at least 20%? If not now, when would be the right time to install rooftop solar systems and enjoy free electricity from the Sun?
And with this, we’ve come to an end. We’ll soon be back to spill some more beans for the last time.
In the meanwhile, if you want to learn more about solar panel installation or you have some specific doubts, you can check out this youtube video.
Happy solarizing till we see you next!
Top 4 frequently asked questions about solar systems
1. Can solar energy meet all power requirements at home?
Yes. When solar power can run the entire space station, why wouldn’t it meet the energy requirements at home?
That being said, be mindful that you’re buying the right size. If you consume 1000 units of electricity/month and you install a smaller, 3 KW solar system, that’s when it won’t be able to meet all the power requirements.
As long as the capacity of the solar system matches your power consumption, it will be enough to run your house.
2. What is net metering in residential solar?
We did mention that on-grid systems have a bi-directional meter and there’s a concept called net metering – let’s elaborate on it a bit more now.
An on-grid solar system does a fascinating power exchange – it exports excessive electricity from the solar panels to the grid during the day and imports those units whenever needed. If the meter isn’t bi-directional, this exchange of units will not be possible.
This unit exchange is what is known as net metering. It’s the concept of tracking the number of units generated and the number of units consumed.
What’s the benefit of net metering? It’s basically a record of whether you used extra electricity from the discom or you supplied them with extra units generated by your solar system. That’s how a solar bill is generated at the end of each month.
3. Is your rooftop suitable for installing solar panels?
As long as your rooftop isn’t made of asbestos sheets, it’s an ideal candidate. Almost all households in India either have an RCC or a metallic sheet rooftop. There are suitable mounting stand options for these types.
If talking in terms of shadow-free space, you already know you have options: the limited space issue can be negated with monocrystalline solar panels.
4. Can a solar system be shifted after installation?
Yes, uninstalling a solar system is as simple as installing it i.e if done by professionals. Solar panels are very delicate. Manhandling can lead to scratching.