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The Next Step to Renewable Household Energy: Solar Power Systems

solar power systemIn an effort to go green, many home owners are installing solar power systems in order to produce renewable household energy. Although this is a move in the right direction, many people are missing an important step in converting to green energy, and that is saving energy first.

Conserve Energy First

In previous articles we have been concentrating on how to conserve energy in the home, either by changing wasteful habits or by installing energy saving appliances such as LED lights, gas heaters and solar water heating systems. Although everyone should be practicing green habits in the home in order to conserve natural resources as well as earnings, energy conservation is the vital prerequisite to installing solar power systems. In short, only once you have conserved energy can you begin to create it.

The Next Step: Solar Electric Systems

Solar power systems are the solution to creating green energy in your home and reducing your dependence on the national grid. However, although households are considering residential solar power systems, very little is generally known about the actual technology. We’ve set out to briefly explain the basic components of a solar electric power system.

Solar Panels or Photo Voltaic Modules

In general, when people think ‘solar power’ the image of a solar panel springs to mind, as it is the most visible part of a home solar power system. Solar panels consist of a series of cells made from semiconductor material. When energy from the sun’s rays penetrates these cells, an electrical current (direct current) is formed in a process known as the photovoltaic effect. For this reason the cells used in solar panels care referred to as photovoltaic cells.

Charge Controller of Regulator

Solar power systems for homes use charge controllers to regulate the electric charge coming from the solar panel. The charge controller is placed between the solar panels and the battery of a solar power system, and effectively prevents the battery from becoming overcharged. Depending on the solar power system, it also acts as a direct supply of electricity for appliances requiring a DC current.


The function of the solar power battery is the same as that for any other electrical system, i.e. it stores electrical energy. The batteries used for solar power systems are specially designed for high power, although many individuals unknowingly utilise car batteries, which can compromise the effectiveness of a residential solar power systems. Solar power batteries enable households to run electrical appliances during a power outage.


Before the direct current (DC) generated by the photovoltaic cells can be used as electrical energy for the home, it has to be converted to an alternating current (AC). Solar power systems for homes use inverters to change the current to the desired voltage, in order to make the generated electricity compatible with household appliances.

When we look at the different components of solar power systems, it’s clear to see why conserving energy is as important as creating it. Wasteful appliances drain battery power, effectively nullifying any green effort. However, if your household is already using as little energy as possible through conservation efforts, consider taking renewable energy one step further, by converting South Africa’s ample sun rays into green household energy using a solar power system.

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