How solar lighting benefits your home and business

BY BRIAN ANTHONY HAYWARD - APRIL 21, 2016

With load shedding threatening to resume mid-year, consumers need to consider solar-powered solutions for their homes and businesses. These solutions can start small and include simple options such as solar lighting specifically designed for gardens, pool areas, homes and offices.

Leading provider Rhino Lighting in Port Elizabeth offers a variety of solutions, including the Rhino SL-108 floodlight, which is powered by a 30cm x 60cm solar panel and has a beam that shines for 100m. The mini floodlight has a battery and a day-night switch, which lights up as soon as it goes dark.

According to Rhino Lighting Manager, Heather McEwan, there are a number of advantages to using solar lighting. These include:

•   Lower electricity bills – By installing a solar system, you will immediately take advantage of lower electricity bills. These savings will allow you to put more of your profits back into your business or home.

•   Control over power costs – Solar power is a productive and efficient source of renewable energy. By producing your own power, you will be less vulnerable to volatile energy costs, allowing you to plan your budget more effectively.

•   Being a green business – Even if your business is not environmental by nature, there is a growing demand from savvy clients, who put a premium on sustainable and environmentally friendly business practices.

•   Visibility for your business – Nothing says progressive and responsible like a roof or property covered with solar panels. The visibility of solar panels could generate high interest in your services and products.

McEwan says there are, however, a few crucial aspects to consider:

•   Orientation – Orientating solar panels correctly helps to maximise the system’s efficiency. South-facing panels are 81% efficient compared to north-facing panels at 87% efficient. A complete residential solar system is 83 to 85% efficient. In South Africa, solar panels are exposed to the sun’s photons for about four to eight hours each day on average, location dependent, therefore proper orientation is crucial.

•   Structure – Not all structures can support solar systems. If the solar panels are to be installed on a roof, the structure must be able to support panel and rack weights where applicable. The structural effect on the building, due to the increased sail from the solar panels, must be analysed to prevent any building structure failure. Importantly, wind loads pushing behind the panels should be observed.

•   Distance to transmission lines – In the case of commercial solar “farms”, generated electricity must be fed into the electrical grid. Proximity and access to transmission lines are key as the lines are very costly and theft is a major on-going concern.