It has become a common practice for Malawians to own a solar power system for household, institutional, and commercial use.

However, the utilization of solar energy has come with numerous problems, including the low quality of systems consumers use.

Substandard systems come in two ways: low-quality system components and poor design of the system installation, including installation procedure.

Many users are complaining about the underperformance of the systems because they are not aware of the procedures for acquiring such systems.

However, consult experts before acquiring such systems. If you want a solar power system, ask yourself what it will be used for, where, and how.

These are important questions before you purchase the components for your system. Expert opinion will now be required.

For example, if you want a system for home lighting and powering a television, you need to know the number and wattage of lights as well as the wattage of your TV. You also need to know the average number of hours the TV and each light bulb will be used per day.

This will determine the amount of power you will need to store in the battery before sunset. 

The same applies to solar water heating systems. You need to know the amount of hot water required per day at each particular time. The solar power system used for lighting and TV will require solar panels, charge controllers, batteries, and inverters as your main components apart from cables from panels to controllers, controllers to batteries, and batteries to inverters.

The size of the inverter is determined by the number of loads that will be using it, but we have to factor in its efficiency.

The quality of the main components of the solar system will determine the performance of the system.

The rule of thumb is the lower the cost of the main component of the solar system of the same size in specifications, the lower the quality. However, it should be pointed out that this can only be determined and confirmed by an expert in the field, hence expert opinion is required.

Here is the big question: Is it possible to check the specifications of these components before they are installed?

Yes, the experts can test the components before they are installed.

Before the technician installs your solar components, an expert can inspect their physical and electrical specifications accordingly.

If you do this, you can rest assured that your system will perform according to your requirements and expectations. The expert can also confirm whether the system to be installed will meet your requirements by checking the design parameters.

The major problem is that most installations are design-and-build systems by one expert. Offer design services to experts in systems in that field and then pass installation to technicians in solar energy installations.

If not sure, cross-check with the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) whether your preferred artisan is certified in a particular field or both.

You can also ask for a Mera certificate from the technician before the system is installed.

For quality assurance as well as checks and balances, utilize both the services of a design expert and an installation technician.

This assures you of better results when we want to invest in solar power technology.

The one-size-fits-all will not assist our country reap the desired fruit from the global solar energy revolution powered by the push for a switch to renewable energy to beat blackouts and climate change.


SOURCE: The Nation

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