By Snigdha Phatak
The Indian Government’s renewable energy target is to reach a solar capacity of 450 GW by 2030. To help this campaign, the government has introduced solar subsidies for residential solar panels. If you’ve understood the advantages of installing a solar panel in your home, choosing a solar system is your next step.
There are two main types of solar systems: on grid and off grid solar systems. You can install either type of solar system. However, the decision to install either type should be based on your monthly electricity requirements and not which is cheaper.
On grid solar systems are connected to your city’s power grid. Any excess energy generated by your solar panel is sent to the city’s utility grid. In turn, you will receive monetary compensation from the government.
Step 1: Choosing a solar panel.
The first thing to do when you’ve decided to buy an on grid solar panel is to choose a product. Solar panels are available in a wide range, from 440W to 3kW. All of these can be installed in Indian homes. Therefore, to select a solar panel you have to understand your household’s electricity requirement. This can be done by going through your monthly electricity bills for the past 12 months to find an average.
Step 2: Assess financial options.
There are over 100 solar companies that manufacture and sell residential solar panels. The price can range from ₹30,000 to ₹4,00,000. So, it is important to decide your budget before you start shopping for a solar panel. You should also consider other financial options like solar loans before you decide on your budget.
Step 3: Comparing solar panels and companies.
With so many solar panels available in the market, comparing products is a must. Different companies provide different features in their products. For example, Loom Solar’s solar panels have a conversion efficiency of 20% but Luminous’s solar panels have a conversion efficiency of 16-19%. Each will make a difference in your solar system.
Therefore, it is necessary to compare and contrast the features of two or more solar panels before selecting one. You can find details of all features on the manufacturer’s website.
Step 4: Online reviews.
Online ratings are an important part of searching for the right on grid solar panel system. You can find them in three different places:
- Online marketplaces like Amazon or Flipkart.
- The manufacturer’s website.
- Solar product review blogs.
Going through these three sources should help you understand the benefits and problems of each product.
Step 5: Searching for stores.
Solar panels can be bought through three main places:
- From the manufacturer’s online store.
- From the manufacturer’s channel partner.
- From the manufacturer’s physical store.
Depending upon your location, you may or may not be able to find a physical store and channel partner. However, most online stores deliver products to all locations in India.
Once you’ve found the online store, you can place an online order for the solar panel. It will be delivered to your home and the installation will be done for you.
This process is relatively simple. So, is the process the same for an off grid system?
Off grid solar systems are not connected to your city’s power grid. Instead, they are connected to a battery. Any excess energy generated by your solar panel is then saved in the battery and can be used later.
Step 1: Choosing a solar panel.
An off grid solar system means you will not be dependent on the city’s electricity supply. However, this also means that your solar panel should be able to generate enough electricity to power your home and store in a battery. Therefore, you need a 100% accurate estimate of how much electricity you need every day.
The power generated from the solar panel should be enough for all your appliances to run during the day and night. You should also account for some extra electricity. To make an estimate, compare at least 24 months of electricity bills.
Step 2: Assess your financial options.
Off grid solar systems are more expensive than on grid solar systems. The price range for off grid solar systems generally starts from ₹1,00,000. Therefore, you have to assess your financial options and determine your eligibility for a solar loan.
Step 3: Comparing products and companies.
Off grid solar systems may require batteries, inverters, wiring and junction boxes. Therefore, when you’re comparing other important features of solar panels, also compare what additional products they provide.
Comparing batteries is a must for off grid solar systems. Some questions you should ask the salesman are:
- Is the battery provided with the solar panel enough for your home requirements?
- How many hours does it take for the solar panel to charge the battery completely?
- How many hours of electricity does the battery provide?
It is recommended that the battery should store enough power to power your home for 1-3 days. This is especially important in monsoon months where there isn’t enough sun to generate electricity.
Step 4: Reviews and recommendations.
Similar to an on grid solar system, reading through reviews is a must. It will help you understand the actual working of the system and what problems other customers have faced. If you know anyone who has installed an off grid solar system, you should inspect the system and ask them questions.
Step 5: Booking and installations.
Off grid systems require special installations and can’t be done on your own. Therefore, once you’ve decided on the company and solar product, it is a good idea to ask when an expert will come to install the unit for you. During the installations, ask questions about the fuse, circuit breakers and switches. This way, if the switch trips or the fuse blows, you’ll know what to do.
That’s it! The process of selecting a solar system is easy. But you need to be aware of your energy requirements. If you don’t know much about solar systems, it is also a good idea to call a solar expert and ask for a consultation. Most solar companies provide inspections and consultation services to help their customers.
So, instead of making an educated guess, ask for help from an expert! With a consultation, you will be able to find the right solar system and get it installed without hassle.