Solar Power House

Solar Power Kits: The Complete Guide

Solar Power Kits are fast becoming the best way to choose the right Solar Power System without sourcing and researching all the parts yourself.

They are easy to set up and easier to install for installers, ensuring you have all the parts needed.

Here is what we are going to cover in this guide:

Chapter 1

What Are Solar Power Kits?

The fundamentals

Put simply, a Solar Power Kit contains solar panels, an inverter, batteries and all the switches, mounting and wiring that you’d need to install said kit to start producing and using solar power.

We’ll cover these components below.

What Are Solar Power Kits?
Chapter 2

Solar Power Kit Includes

What’s in the box?

In this section, we’ll go through what you can expect to find in a Solar Power Kit.

These items should be included when buying a kit. If you’re buying your equipment separately, make sure to include the peripheral items too.

Solar Panels

Probably the most distinguishable component of all, the Solar Panel is a fundamental part of the whole kit; without this piece, you won’t produce solar energy.

More Solar Panel Guides

Solar Panel Guide
How to Size a PV Array

The Solar Panel - What you need to know

Solar Inverters

The next fundamental component of every Solar Power Kit is an inverter. Without this piece of equipment, there is no way to convert your energy coming from the Solar Panels and stored power in your batteries into usable electricity for your home.

More Solar Inverter Guides

Solar Inverter Guide

Solar Inverter Types - The Basics | Solar Advice

Solar Batteries

Solar Batteries are required if you need backup power during the evenings. The only kit that does not require a battery is a Grid-Tied kit, but we’ll go through this later on in this guide.

More Solar Battery Guides

Solar Batteries Guide
Lithium-ion Guide

Battery Storage Options - A Beginners Guide

Solar Peripherals

Solar Peripherals Icon
Your Solar Power Kit should always come with kit peripherals like switches, wiring etc. But what are these items, and are they necessary?

The short answer is YES! You’ll need disconnect switches that disconnect your AC power, DC power and battery so that should any maintenance or repair work be required, your electrician is safe.
It is a safety standard, and you will not be able to get a COC (certificate of compliance) which is required by law.

Your AC box should always have surge protectors in them to protect your system from electrical surges.

Wiring is essential to connect your components together.

Safety is the most important thing when it comes to installing Solar Power Kits. Not only do we want to make sure that our installers are safe but that you, your family, your home and your Solar Power Kit are protected from damage and even death.

As with all things relating to electricity, there is a genuine chance of electrocution and fire if these items are not installed or installed correctly.

Chapter 3

What Are The Different Types Of Solar Power Kits?

There are different types?

There are four types of kits that we use in the residential market. We will focus on these 4 kits in this guide.

Off-Grid Kits

Off-Grid Kit

  • Solar Panels
  • Off-Grid Inverter
  • Batteries
  • Peripherals

Browse Off-Grid Kits

Grid-Tied Kits

Grid-Tied Kit

  • Solar Panels
  • Inverter
  • Batteries
  • Peripherals

Browse Grid-Tied Kits

Hybrid Kits

Hybrid Kit

  • Solar Panels
  • Hybrid Inverter
  • Batteries
  • Peripherals

Browse Hybrid Kits

3 Phase Kits

3 Phase Kit

  • Solar Panels
  • 3 Phase Inverter
  • Batteries
  • Peripherals

Browse 3 Phase Kits

Also, there are 3 sizes of inverter that we use mainly install in clients homes:

  • 5kW
  • 8kW
  • 12kW

These are the most popular sized kits for residential use, but you get commercial-sized kits that can be truly massive.

What Are The Different Types Of Solar Power Kits?

Off-Grid Kits

Off-Grid Kit Icon
You see the word “Off-Grid Solar Power Kit”, and you might immediately think this is the kit for you.

But, while off the grid might sound like the best solution out there, there are some things to consider:

  1. You will have no grid to fall back on in the event of severe weather or faults.
  2. You will need to have an oversized battery bank to cover you for a few days in case of cloudy weather.
  3. You will have to have a pretty extensive array to cover your usage and charge the extra battery bank.

While you might save a few grand on the inverter, we’re talking a pretty penny here for the battery bank alone.
While this solution is 100% doable, it’s not ideal for us here in the ‘burbs.
Use grid power when you need them, don’t cut your nose off to spite your face.

Off-Grid Kits are ideal for homes that are out in the sticks and have no other source of electricity. Also, Off-Grid Inverters work just fine for a Load Shedding Kit where you have no Solar Panels.

Additionally, Off-Grid Inverters do not blend power from all your sources. If you are not producing enough solar power to cover your usage, it will either:

Cause the whole system to trip if you have no alternative power source
OR
Switch over your usage from Solar Power to grid power. Meaning you’ll be wasting produced (free) solar power and using grid power instead.

Do you live out in the middle of nowhere with no grid supply? If you answered yes, then an Off-Grid kit is for you.

If you answered no, then keep reading, we have another solution for you.

Grid-Tied Kits

Grid-Tied Kit Icon
The Grid-tied solar power kit is the simplest of all solar solutions. It contains solar panels and an inverter, and no batteries.

If you have high usage in the day, such as pool pumps, boreholes, washing machines, geysers etc., this solution will compensate for the energy use and offer the highest return on investment. They are often paid back within three years.

Great for daytime businesses:

  • Factories
  • Shops
  • Restaurants
  • Workshops
  • Offices

These kits also work perfectly in homes simply looking to supplement their daytime usage with solar power and save some money on electricity bills.

Hybrid Kits

Hybrid Kit Icon
A firm favourite with our staff and clients alike.

It does everything, so you don’t have to.

It blends power from the grid, solar panels and battery to ensure you have a seamless power supply.
Switchovers are so fast that you barely even notice them. I hadn’t known when load shedding was happening since 2019.

Hybrids save you from wasting produced solar power, saving you extra money in the long run. Cha-Ching! Now you’re winning.

They are reliable, safe and quieter than off-grid inverters.

We can get you as close to off the grid as possible with a Hybrid inverter which means that you’ll be producing enough solar power to cover your needs and charge your batteries, but you’ll still be connected to the grid. The grid will become your backup.

The less you pay to Eskom, the more you can put into your kit, and the quicker you see a return on your investment.

3 Phase Kits

3 Phase Kit Icon
If you have 3 phase supply, you’ll most likely know about it.

For those who are unsure what 3 phase supply is, it is a circuit that has 3 AC cables instead of 1. Most homes have a single-phase supply, whereas most factories, workshops and office buildings will have 3 phases. Although, some houses in South Africa do have 3 phase supply.

And for a 3 phase supply, you’ll need a 3 phase inverter. We don’t typically carry a wide variety of 3 phase inverters but do have a few.

Did I mention that you can use a single-phase inverter on 1, 2 or all 3 of your phases? Hello Hybrid!

Chapter 4

What Are The Benefits Of A Solar Power Kit?

Why a Solar Power Kit makes sense

Deciding to buy a complete solar power kit will save you time researching each item.
We’ve put together several kits where you can ensure that the inverters work perfectly with the batteries.

We have helped thousands of South Africans with Solar Power Kits, so we know which products work together the best.

It takes the guesswork out of choosing the right kit and saves you from the frustration of forgetting to include some necessary items.

What Are The Benefits Of A Solar Power Kit?
Chapter 4

Choose A Kit With Our Online Tool

Solar Made Simple

Online Tool

Our Informative Online Tool

Now that you know more about Solar Power Kits and what they include, let’s look at how to size up a system.

It’s very easy because we have a tool on each product page to help you.
The tool will determine your monthly usage based on your bill amount. From there, it will work out what you need to be producing daily to cover your usage.

Inverter Size

Find your highest monthly electricity bill as this will ensure you are covered during even the most expensive months, which is typically in Winter.

Choose a kit on our site and add your bill amount to the “Size your System” section on the right-hand side of the product page.

The tool will tell you if that kit is the right size for you.

Here are thresholds for each inverter based on average electricity bills:

5kW Kit

R 800 – R2900 a month

8kW Kit

R 2500 – R4400 a month

Number of Panels

The tool will also show the recommended number of panels once your bill has been entered.

If the kit is the right size for you, but the tool recommends you have upwards of 12 panels on a 5kW Hybrid Kit, consider the 8kW kit instead. The 8kW kit will give you room to grow in the future.

I recommend adding another one or two panels to counteract any unfavourable weather. This will also get you as close to off the grid as possible.

Battery Sizing

Battery bank sizing is a broad topic and quite versatile.

You may only want to start with one battery to get you going and see how it fares during the evenings and grid failure.

Batteries are the most expensive part of a kit, so starting with a smaller battery bank and growing it as you need is something that most clients do. So long as you stick to the same battery brand and size, you’re golden.

Most of our batteries can be paralleled, which will increase your usable battery bank size.
So you can have three 3.6kWh batteries, which will give you 10.8kWh worth of battery. Or you can have two 4.8kWh batteries, which will provide you with a 9.6kWh battery bank.

For the average household, I recommend starting with a 4.8kWh battery. This will allow you to keep the lights on during load shedding and cycle, but you may find that you’ll want to add another battery later on, to cycle it through the night.

To learn more about sizing a battery bank, read the article here: How to size a battery bank.

Chapter 5

How Much Does A Solar Power Kit Cost?

The break down

How Much Does A Solar Power Kit Cost?
The price of a Solar Power Kit is dependent on which inverter and batteries you choose.

The most affordable inverter would be one of the Off-Grid Inverters, whereas the Hybrids are more expensive. You get what you pay for, though, and as stated above, if you want to have an investment Solar Power Kit, then the Hybrid is the way to go.

Batteries start at just over R17,000.00 and can reach upwards of R50,000.00. However, the rack-mounted options are more affordable than the wall or floor-mounted batteries.

Below is an overview of what these kit prices start from.

Grid-Tied Solar Power Kits

from around R50,000.00

Off-Grid Solar Power Kits

from around R65,000.00

Hybrid Solar Power Kits

from around R76,000.00

Chapter 6

Installation of Solar Power Kits

You should know

Dos and Don’ts

While solar products are, for the most part, plug-and-play, we always recommend having solar power kits installed by a professional installer.

Your installer should be a registered electrician with the Department of Labour. Employing an unregistered electrician is illegal and could result in you being in hot water. You must bust be issued a CoC (Certificate of Compliance) by the electrician upon completion of the installation.

Choosing an installer is an integral part of your solar journey. If you are not using Solar Advice’s installers, I’d recommend finding someone via word of mouth who can give you a first-hand account of how their installation went.

Another good way of finding an installer is to check Google reviews and HelloPeter. The Solar Industry is in demand due to load shedding, and there are a lot of bakkie installers available. Don’t skimp on installation costs and do not DIY the installation.

Warranties fall away if the products are not installed correctly, and we will not be able to help you further if you choose to install it yourself or have a cowboy do the installation.

What to Expect

Any good installer will perform a site inspection before installing Solar Power Kits to make sure that they are on the same page as you and check for any abnormalities regarding your wiring and installation location.

At Solar Advice, we offer on-site and virtual site inspections to ensure we provide the best products for you and, should there be anything out of the norm, our installers will be ready.

There is nothing quite like arriving at the installation site unprepared for an unusual circumstance and rescheduling due to poor planning.

Make sure your installer offers a site inspection.

Time Frame

You can expect Solar Power Kits to take around three days to install.

The installers will usually start by installing your solar panels first, which will take the longest to install, depending on how many panels there are.
They will start by installing your solar panel mounting brackets, rails etc., before putting the solar panels up.

Then they’ll install your inverter and batteries, split your DB board and connect everything up.

Installation Cost

Installation costs range from place to place, but a sound installation will cost you upwards of R12,000.00 for Solar Power Kits with six solar panels. The price will increase as the number of panels increases.

Load Sheddings start from around R8,000.00 and up as they do not require solar panel installation.

Chapter 7

Tips & Tricks

To get the most out of your Solar Power Kit

In this section, we’ll go through a few tips and tricks to optimise the functionality of Solar Power Kits.

Work smarter, not harder!

  1. Only use heavy appliances during the day. Appliances that generate heat like tumble dryers, dishwashers, kettles etc., use the most power. Using your batteries to power these appliances will drain your batteries quicker and leave you with little to no backup for the rest of the night.
  2. Use WiFi switches. This will allow you to set timers for things like pool pumps, irrigation systems and geysers. You’ll be able to switch them on as and when you need them with an app on your phone, which will drastically reduce the amount of time they are running and the amount of power they use.
  3. Paint your garage roof white. If you have your inverter and batteries installed in the garage but find that during the summer months, it gets too hot and your inverter and batteries suffer, painting your garage roof white will deflect the heat. It does work to keep your garage cooler.
  4. Install 2-4 more solar panels than recommended. So that you’re overproducing solar power to charge your batteries and to ensure you’re producing enough solar power even during cloudy days.
  5. Keep your solar panels clean. Dirt and debris will hinder your solar power production. Solar panels are somewhat self-cleaning. However, rinsing your panels off with some water and only water while using a soft sponge will help keep your Solar Power Kits producing the maximum amount of power.
  6. Have your installer earth your inverter. If you’re in the Gauteng area and Solar Advice is NOT doing your installation earthing your inverter will protect it against lightning strikes and prevent your inverter from burning out.
Chapter 8

Conclusion

Thank you and good night

Solar Power Kits are the best way to ensure that you have bought the right kit for your needs.

These kits are a no mess, no fuss approach to having a Solar Power Kit installed in your home.

There is a wide range of Solar Power Kits available, but remember that picking a reputable seller and installer will save you from headaches down the road.

If you need any help related to a Solar Power Kit, please contact us. We have a team of very helpful, professional people who can assist with any questions you may have.

Conclusion

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