At Dorman Projects, we do our best to answer questions you may have about your solar investment.
Going solar can be a daunting process, but we like to arm our customers with as much information as to feel confident to make the right choice.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and the answers to them.
Why should I go solar?
Well, that is entirely up to you, but most home and business owners choose to go solar for the electricity bill savings. While this might be the initial attraction of going solar, many homeowners do not realize that solar allows you to control your power bill and increase your property value. Other non-financial related reasons to go solar are that it reduces carbon footprint, helps create and sustain a growing number of jobs, and promotes the future of renewable energy. We have found that customers who are “energy efficient” can save up to 60% on their current electrical bill – for the average homeowner, this is anywhere from R850 – R1250 per month.
Is my house suitable for solar?
Because the answer to this question directly affects your system’s cost and savings, it is the most crucial question on the list. For the most part, it is hard to determine on your own whether solar is right for your home or business, but there are three things you can look at to get a basis of whether you should even consider investing in solar:
- The amount of sun that your roof receives. If there is lots of shade, solar might not be a viable option. We often find customers with large trees blacking out portions of the roof might not be suitable for solar and business in high-density areas where the roof has direct shading from the building next door.
- What size is your incoming mains breaker? Is your mains breaker single or three phases? Is it a 40/60/80 amp? This information is vital as not many people know that the size of your mains breaker determines how much solar you can have on your roof. Staying within the limitations of your mains breaker will ensure that your solar system is legal and compliant with the regulations.
- The orientation of your roof. Northern-facing roofs spend the most time in the sun in the Southern hemisphere. Looking at East-West configurations can be a close second as it offers a different solar curve this is accepted in the industry. South-facing roofs are a no-go as you will obtain less than half production out of them – this is not great for your solar investment.
- The cost of electricity. The higher the electricity price or tariff, the more money you will save by going solar. We have identified that customers with a tariff rate of over R1.60 can have their systems paid back within three years.
If your home checks the boxes for these four verifiers, solar likely will be a wise investment for your home or business.
How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?
Solar panels absorb the sun’s energy throughout the day and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. Most homes and businesses run on alternating current (AC) electricity, so the DC electricity is then passed through an inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. At that point, you either use the electricity in your house or send it back to the electric grid, building up a credit on your electrical bill. In addition, once your home is integrated with battery backup, the solar can store excess energy in your batteries for later use.
Is solar noisy?
Generally speaking, solar panels do not make noise. They are designed to be noise-free, and they should be particularly noiseless at night. This is because solar panels are powered by the sun, and they use the sunlight to create electricity or power. So even at night, no noise comes from the panels themselves.
Regarding solar installation on residential clients, Dorman projects look at a timeline of 4-6 days of installation. Noise related to the installation may include hammer drills to mount the equipment, talk and communication between team members, walking and moving on the roof, and possibly tracking and identifying circuits within your home. With Dorman Projects having over 100 residential installations, we have made this process seamless.
Do my solar panels produce power when the sun is not shining?
The amount of power your solar energy system can generate is dependent on sunlight. You are looking at 5,5 available sunlight hours in a day. On cloudy days string inverters perform much lower than inverters that use power optimizers such as Solar Edge. We find that solar production can be anywhere from 20-40% on cloudy or overcast days making your investment worthwhile in the winter months.
Will a solar energy system protect me from load-shedding?
This may be the most significant misunderstanding of solar. Inverters for solar work with the grid. Once that reference is lost, your inverter will shut down. Home and business owners looking to protect themselves against load-shedding should consider a battery backup system to gain independence from the grid. The inverter will find a second power source from the batteries keeping your solar online when the grid goes down.
Can I go off-grid with solar panels?
When you install solar panels on your property, you will still be connected to the grid. This allows you to draw from the grid when your system is not producing all the power you need and send power back to the grid when you produce more than you use. It is possible to go off the grid with a solar energy system that includes battery storage and a generator, but it will cost significantly more and be unnecessary for most home and business owners.
Off-grid at its core means that your house or business can run on its electrical system using only solar, batteries, and a generator in case of emergencies. However, issues arise when lousy weather is thrown into the mix where solar panels cannot charge your batteries as energy.
To even consider off-grid, you will require one month’s worth of metering data to determine what the actual usage of your home or business is.
What size solar energy should I get?
The size of your solar energy system will depend on how much electricity you use every month, as well as the weather conditions where you live.
The most significant factor here at Dorman Projects is the main breaker size, as customers are often limited to the regulated kW per breaker size. We often advise customers that even four solar panels can make a difference with savings.
What if my roof is in poor condition?
Dorman Projects offers an internal roofing team that can do evaluations of roofing and roofing structures to see if it will be possible to pack on damaged or old roofs. As solar panels have a lifetime of 25+ years, it is essential that your roof can carry the 12.5kg per meter squared for the next 25 years. Often customers with much older roofs look at doing a roof restoration or structural reinforcement. This helps save costs compared to replacing the entire roof. As Dorman Projects comes from a construction background, we often offer the service of roof restoration.
Do solar panels have a warranty?
Most accredited solar companies will offer energy and panel warranties upon purchasing your new panels. Solar panels have a warranty of 15 years with their manufacturers or suppliers and a 25-year linear guarantee meaning that the panel is guaranteed to last 25 years.
How do I choose a solar installer?
There are a few criteria that everyone should use when choosing a solar installer.
Make sure your installer has qualified electricians employed. That the company is registered and licensed, how long they have been installing solar. There is no shame in asking your installer to see an existing installation to see the quality of work. The solar green card does not serve as a valid confirmation of a credible installer.
What sets Dorman Projects aside is that Dorman has over 22 years of experience and has completed over 54 MW in commercial and residential to date. Dorman Projects Offers Tier1 products selected only on support from the specified products and warranties of products. Dorman Projects makes use of over 14 qualified electricians and an entire in-house engineering team. Dorman does not make use of any sub-contractors setting us aside from most installers in the market.
Do you have more questions about solar energy? Our FAQ gives you an overview of solar technology, solar installation, so you’ll have the confidence to go solar.
If you don’t see an answer you’re looking for here, please contact us.