Mine has been running for a week now, albeit with only half the panels mounted and installed, as I didn’t have time to mount the rest yet this visit – I’m back in Shanghai, China again now..
It finally went live on the 14th. Its working out well though, although I am getting slightly less output than I expected – panels are in theory 4800W total for 16 panels x 300w, but looks like they’re really 250w panels, as we get about 3.9x KW peak off the 16 we have mounted at the moment after inverter losses etc.
Everything survived the massive storm that hit Cape Town last weekend too, so that was a relief!
Still need to do paperwork for council approval, and arrange a new digital 4 quadrant Landis & Gyr meter so I can eventually “feed into the grid” as a SSEG (similar to Arthur), but we’re generating electricity on a separate circuit in the interim, and our power is down to pretty much zero usage daytime.
If you recall from my last update, I unpacked the Solar Panel crate, and moved the panels to the back garden. It does no good having a pile of panels in the garden, they need to be mounted!
Mounting is probably one of the lesser discussed area’s of installing Solar. Its almost an afterthought for most people, although it’s just as important as the rest of the system.
As my system is 3 Phase, I thought I’d talk about some of the different 3 Phase standards for wiring.
3 Phase, as you may or may not know, is better for transmission of power.
Power stations generate electricity at 22 000 volts (3 phase 50Hz). To transmit this power over long distances, Eskom steps up the power to to the following voltages for transmission: 220kV; 275kV; 400kV or 765kV. This electricity now goes into our national grid.
When it gets to the end user it is stepped down. This could be 11kV for a large factory or 400V(380V) for shops/homes. If you take a phase to neutral (single phase voltage) i.e. 400V/sqrt(3) you will get 230V single phase @ 50Hz.
When it gets to the house, it generally gets split up into single phase, and different circuits get each phase. So, the lights might be on one phase, the plugs on another, and heavy equipment may use all three (eg an old 1950’s Oven dating back to the Union of South Africa!).
Plug sockets at home are single phase 230VAC 50Hz. Continue reading
As its been a while (understatement!), I thought I’d update on the progress.
Well, I finally shipped my container of goodies all the way from China to SA, encountering a few issues on the way. A groot fok jou goes to DN Freight / Temoore Freight for being complete doos’s – Shawn Patience, Elize Werner you know exactly what I’m talking about; managing to screw up, get a charge of an extra R20k+ in Storage fee’s, *then* having the audacity to try bill another R10k on top for fee’s *already paid* in Shanghai. The sea freight pretty much turned into air freight pricing… Grrr.
They tried to cover it up too, then backtracked and changed story. Couldn’t even be bothered to show up for a meeting they booked, then literally blackmailed me into paying the charges – if you don’t pay, fee’s go up daily. I’m still considering getting lawyers involved in that.. Continue reading
As I have a vested interest in consistent electricity back home (see my other recent post on Solar for details) and have been in discussion with the council about net metering and grid tie, I’ve been doing quite a bit of random reading regarding electricity distribution and its various facets. Continue reading
I’ve been interested in going completely solar for a while now back home in South Africa, as pricing for electricity has rapidly increased past the pricing for solar; return on investment is in the 3 year range currently.
It will get close to 1 1/2 year return on investment when Eskom new pricing increases happen, so its a no brainer to install.
I’ve already replaced our geyser (hot water system) with a solar based system, plus all the lighting in the house is already LED based (yay China!), so our base load of electricity is low for the size of the house. I can still improve though by installing solar, to make the electrical costs approach zero, and at some indeterminate point in the future when Eskom allows for legalized grid tie, a profit center!