The initial capital outlay can seem expensive, particularly if the system is self-financed. However, the price of solar PV has come down to a point where the cost of power produced is competitive (at worst) and usually better than the cost of power from our only utility, Eskom.

Fiction. The embedded energy in a Solar PV module takes between one and three years to offset itself, depending on the location of installation.

Solar PV plant are designed to have a minimum lifetime of 20 years; more often than not, 25 years. Their useful life however is still a contentious issue – some systems are still in use 40 years after inception, but one can assume 30 years to be a good benchmark.

The warranties differ on the various components that make up the system. As a general rule, the Modules (panels) have a 25-year power production warranty and a 10-year manufacturers warranty against defects. The Inverters usually come with a 5-year warranty, depending on the manufacturer. If an off-grid system is employed, one can assume a 4-year warranty on the Battery system.

A kWh (pronounced ‘kila watt hour’) is a specific amount of electricity.  1 Kwh is identical to 1 unit of electricity that is shown on your electricity bill.  An electrical item having a rating of 1kW will consume 1kWh for every hour it is on at full power.

Almost any type of roof can take a solar PV system – there are various mounting options available, with the notable exception of thatch. There are also options to incorporate a “PV-tile” on a new build, instead of conventional roofing materials.

Utmost care is taken in roof-mounting modules. There are various mounting options, many of which include non-invasive brackets, others use the same holes as current roof-mounting screws and we also have options for mounting on tiled roofs, which uses a non-invasive technique. Roof mounting is not a “one-size-fits-all” science, but there are means to do it in a way that it actually enhances the integrity of the roof.

This question is entirely situation-dependent. With current electricity prices where they are in South Africa today, the electricity cost inflation forecasts and depending on where the installation is (geographically speaking), a PV system can take anything from 5-10 years to be fully paid back. FreePhase has financial models to help determine this more accurately, on a case-by-case basis.

A solar PV system does not require direct sunlight to produce power – it will still produce power on cloudy days, albeit at lower production levels. Think of a PV module as the human skin; we can still get burned on a cloudy day.

If a lender finances the system, you calculate the balance of the loan payable to the lender and price it in to the sale of the house – you pay the lender the balance of the loan on sale. The system then becomes the asset of the new homeowner.

Freephase is based in Durban, South Africa and provides service to the whole Southern African sub-region, parts of East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.