Want to go green with solar? Here’s everything you need to know

Who should go for it?

According to Abhishek Mane, the founder of solar startup Deeva Solar, if your monthly electricity bill is about Rs 3,000, then you should opt for rooftop solar. For that, you’ll of course need to have enough sun-lit space for the solar panels to be installed.

Housing societies, especially, should go for it as they have no space constraint. Also housing societies generally spend a lot on electricity owing to always-on lifts and lights in common areas.

What about smaller houses?

Yes, they too can opt for solar power. Not conventional ones, though. For instance, Deeva Solar offers portable solar panels which can be mounted on walls where sunlight is available. Mane said smaller 2-3 BHK houses, which generate a monthly electricity bill of around Rs 1,500, can go for it. Such panels can be installed for about Rs 50,000 and in about 4-5 years, the customers can fully recover the amount.

How much will it cost you?

It all depends on how much you generally spend monthly on electricity. Generally, the vendor will apprise you about the capacity you will need on the basis of the average monthly electricity bill. As per Mane, the thumb rule is that you need 1 KW of solar capacity for every 4 units of electricity. So if you consume 1,000 units every month, you need about 8 KW of solar capacity.

How long will it take you to recover the investment?

In general, customers tend to recover the initial investment on installing solar energy systems in about 4-5 years. As per Abhishek Mane, the bigger the electricity bill, the better the return on investment.

Off-grid or On-Grid?

Off-grid means your solar energy system is not connected to the grid. In on-grid, you can feed the excess electricity generated to the grid and earn some bucks/discounts from the electricity company. However, both these systems have their own pros and cons.

Off-grid systems are technically older versions and have low efficiency. Their maintenance is on the higher side and are costlier than the on-grid systems. However, off-grid systems come with backup benefits. In on-grid, you will lose power if there’s a power cut.

How to choose a solar panel?

There are four types of solar panels available in the market: Polycrystalline, Monocrystalline, Monopark, and Halfcut Monopanel. Polycrystalline panels are suitable for areas with sunny weather having temperatures of 25-30 degree Celsius. But if you are living in a cloudy area with a temperature of around 20-25 degree Celsius, then you should go for Monocrystalline panels. Polycrystalline panels would be best for hot areas like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, etc. In cold areas like Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, etc, monocrystalline panels will work best.

Halfcut panels and Monopark panels are more efficient than Polycrystal panels. They have more wattages i.e. from 380 Watts to 500 Watts. But as this is a new technology, it is not a tried-and-tested one. However, the polycrystalline panel technology will get old after some time, and then people will search for an innovative technology. So considering the future changes, you can go for the high-wattage Halfcut and Monopark panels if the panel manufacturing company is reliable and is an established one in the market.

How much will you have to pay for maintenance?

According to Mane, solar panels are quite durable and require little or no maintenance over their productive lifetime. Since there are no moving parts involved, there is no wear and tear of any part. Mostly you have to clean the panels, especially if you are living in an area where there’s too much dust. You may have to clean the panels a bit more in the winter season, but in the rainy season you may not have to clean them at all. Deeva Solar, in fact, has developed an automated sprinkler system that would clean the panels on a regular basis, further minimising human intervention.

If you have an off-grid system, then you have to do a bit more on maintenance — there is the need to top up battery water every 3 months in case of lead acid batteries. However, if you are using a lithium ion battery, this cost is saved as there is no maintenance required for these batteries.

Another area that requires maintenance includes connections of all the wires, connectors, DC fuses and AC MCBs. “The proper connections increase the reliability of the system leading to more efficient generation. Other fundamental things include the cooling fan and the heat sink which keep the UPS/ GTI system cool, maintaining the required temperature. The fans may get blocked due to deposition of dust which may lead to system failures. The clamps and nut-bolts should also be checked periodically for rusting. Red oxide or paint can be used to prevent rusting,” Deeva Solar says.

Deeva Solar was founded by Abhishek Mane and Deepa Shinde.