How To Start A Solar Power System For Your Home
There’s a sense of freedom that comes with not being totally dependent on the grid. Other countries have done this, and the Philippines is catching up. Starting a solar power system in your home is a huge decision that involves a lot of money. But our guide will walk you through the steps. We’ll even give you tips on how to get bank funding and maximize package inclusions. In the end, you can take charge of your own power source and experience a big slash off your electric bill, if not eliminate it completely.
6 Steps to Starting Solar Power in Your Home:
1. Calculate Your Household Power Consumption
Before you can start realizing your sustainable dream, you first need to figure out approximately how much power your household uses. This lets you know how many solar panels you need. And when you know that, you’ll have an estimate on how much money you’ll have to spend on a solar power system.
To do calculate your power consumption, use the following formula for each of the electric elements in your house:
Power consumption= wattage x hours used per day
Add everything and you have yourself a ballpark figure of your total power consumption per day. Alternatively, you can check your most recent Meralco bill to get an idea of your monthly consumption.
2. Inspect Your House
Survey where the solar panel system can be installed. If you’re going to place it on your roof, inspect if your roof is in good condition. Also, check if it’s getting plenty of sunlight and there are no obstructions that will cast a shade on it like a tree or another building. Get the dimensions if you can and take note of the material. This will help you see how many panels will fit and if it’s sturdy enough to hold the panels. Trust us, your solar power provider will thank you for having this info on hand.
Since you’re already inspecting your home, why not check for fixtures or appliances that consume a lot of electricity and make adjustments to further lessen the consumption. For example, you can switch your lights from the traditional incandescent bulbs to LED. They are cheaper, safer, and last longer. Making your house more energy efficient will help you save more power and give you a faster return on your investment in solar cells.
3. Consider Your Financing Options
Speaking of money, let’s talk about solar setup expenses. The most important consideration of switching to solar is the upfront cost.
Let’s face it, not a lot of Filipinos have PHP 100,000+ ready to go. Luckily, local banks offer loans specifically for financing the Philippines Sustainable Energy Finance (SEF) Program. This program supports projects geared towards using renewable energy like solar power to power up. Some of the major banks that support this program are the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco De Oro (BDO).
Now, you might think residential projects don’t count, and they usually don’t. But if you plan to sell your excess energy to the grid, then you qualify for the loan. The Development Bank of the Philippines also has a special program to fund net-metering schemes for homeowners.
Otherwise, you can just apply for a term loan in any bank and keep all the power to yourself as a self-supporting unit.
4. Contact A Solar Power Provider
When you have the money to fund your project, it’s time to contact a solar power provider. Choose a company that can do everything for you, from securing permits to conducting annual maintenance.
That’s right, having a solar power system is like having a long-term relationship with your provider. You also need to unify this relationship by securing permits from the department of energy and local government units.
You’ll need to prepare documents like land titles and tax receipts. But your solar power provider can help process these documents.
Choosing a Solar Power System
When you’re legally good to go, choose a solar power system that fits your needs. Not all solar panels are built the same. They mainly differ in the materials they use and this affects their efficiency and price.
Here’s the breakdown of the common solar cells available:
Thin-film (TF) solar cells
Material and construction: Uses photovoltaic materials spread over a thin panel
Pros: Easily produced and not sensitive to temperature changes
Cons: Needs a large area to operate efficiently, doesn’t last long and needs more installation elements
Polycrystalline silicon solar cells
Material and construction: Uses melted and fused silicon particles cut into wafers
Pros: Easily produced compared to monocrystalline cells and highly efficient with more sun exposure
Cons: Needs a relatively large area and heat-sensitive
Monocrystalline silicon solar cells
Material and construction: Uses pure silicon formed into bars
Pros: Most efficient cell type and needs less space
Cons: Very expensive and heat-sensitive
Choose the solar cell system that can supply you with enough power without breaking your initial budget. Polycrystalline solar cells are the middle-ground for residential areas because they are reasonably priced while having good efficiency.
Make sure you get a good warranty deal
Choosing a solar power system is also more than just getting the panels on the roof. Make sure you get the system from a provider that includes long term warranty. You can commonly get a 20-year warranty or more for the panels, but make sure the inverters have a warranty too.
5. Think About Net Metering Services
While you talk to your solar power provider, discuss the option of net-metering. It’s a connection made from your solar panel system to the local power grid that allows you to feed off the grid when you have low solar power stored. Alternatively, you can give your power to the grid and get paid for it. Essentially, you supply power to the grid and the local power provider (i.e. MERALCO or the like) buys the power you give them.
Having a stand-alone system can be tricky in the Philippines because it rains most of the year. That means your solar system is not always efficient and might not meet your power needs. Many solar-powered homes are connected to the grid. It gives them flexibility with their power source. And it reduces their electric bill by feeding off the solar cells and getting credit for supplying to the grid.
Plus, as we’ve mentioned earlier, setting up a net-metering system can help you get funding for the whole setup. It’s really a win-win situation.
6. Install The Solar Power System
Solar power providers usually sell the systems as a package, including the cells, framing, and inverters. Installation may or may not be included in the package. But when you’re already spending hundreds of thousands, might as well spend a little extra for professional installation.
Make sure your roof is in tip-top shape to make installation a smooth process. Also, check the area where the inverter goes. You want it near your circuit breaker so that you don’t use up more power feeding energy into your house or the grid. The area also has to be well ventilated to prevent overheating.
List Of Solar Power Providers In The Philippines
You’re all set for your solar journey. Contact one of these providers in the Philippines to get started.
A lot of careful planning and money goes into setting up a home solar power system. But despite the high costs, it’s definitely worth it in the long run. Yes, it takes a while to get your total money’s worth. However, you experience savings on a monthly basis with considerably lower electric bills.
More than the money, there’s a sense of purpose in jumping on board the sustainability train. You’re doing your part in saving the environment.