FAQs

GENERAL

All questions about solar power
How does solar power really work?

Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert sunlight to direct current (DC) electricity. The inverter converts DC into alternating current (AC) electricity. The electrical panel sends power to your lights and appliances.

Sunlight striking earth’s surface in just one hour delivers enough energy to power the world economy for an entire year.

What are the advantages of moving to solar energy?

Solar power is arguably the cleanest, most reliable form of renewable energy available, and it can be used in several forms to help power your home or business. With Solar power, you take control of your electricity supply, and electricity from Solar is cheaper than what you can get from the grid.

Can Solar power all my household appliances (at the same time?)

It all depends on your current electricity needs, but this is where we come in, making sure that the solution we recommend is optimal for your electricity needs i.e. it can support your current consumption profile and it does generate more power than you need. Also, through our Intelligent Energy Management platform, we make sure you maximise your investment.

Can Solar really power my business for the entire 8hr day (Do I have to worry about my daily usage?)

Solar generation normally peaks around mid-day when the sun is at its highest, and our value engineering process will make sure we get as close as possible to supplying all of your power during the day. With our Intelligent Energy Management platform, we will assist you in bringing your consumption profile in line with the solar generation profile. Storage (Batteries) will also help us to achieve this goal.

Does solar power work when the weather is overcast (and no visible sun?)

Solar normally doesn’t produce when it is overcast and that is why we always implement grid tied solutions, where you will use the grid when Solar can’t produce. The systems we implement will always first use solar power before grid. In cases where grid is not available, we will implement a hybrid solution where we will connect your plant to a diesel generator; also for back-up purpose. Storage (Batteries) also plays an important role in ensuring we supply constant electricity.

Will I have power at night, after the sun goes down (and for how long?)

If we implement storage (batteries), you will have power at night. How long?It all depends on the size of the storage solution we implement. All our solutions are value engineered around your consumption profile and linked to how independent you want to be. We can make you 100% independent – therefore, move you off grid.

Are batteries and inverters a standard for solar installations?

Inverters are standard, but storage (batteries) is only used if you want to self-consume outside the Solar Sun Hours, or you want to move off grid. The business case for storage is getting stronger and we do see more and more business cases where storage makes financial sense to implement from day one.

Do solar installations interfere with my current power lines/switches?

No, there is no interference and we make sure that, at the end of the installation, we give you a Certificate of Compliance (CoC). This is, however, dependent upon your having a CoC before we start the work.

Do the installations have visible cabling, and where does it sit?

All cabling is secured in trunking and will not affect the aesthetics of your building.

How much will I really save from changing over to Solar, and how?

This all depends on your consumption profile and available space for the solar panel installation. In general, the cost of solar per kWh has reached parity, where electricity generated from solar is less than the grid power you get from your utility. We’ve seen savings from 5% to 50% in the portfolio of projects we have done thus far.

How will installing solar affect productivity in my business?

It will have no effect on the productivity, as the solar is only an alternative source of energy against your current supply of electricity, may it be grid or generator. We will, however, try our best to make sure you maximise the use of solar electricity due to its cost savings.

Do I need batteries for a business (I imagine these would be many)?

This all depends on your current supply of electricity and how independent you want to be from the grid. The business case for storage (Batteries) is getting stronger and we do see, especially in Africa, that storage becomes part of all our implementations. The technology advances for storage is really very aggressive and it is becoming cost effective.

How reliable is Solar really (production output)?

Solar generation is very reliable and in most of our implementations, we do see a better generation than predicted. During our value engineering phase (design), we use various tools to ensure we forecast the generation correctly. Once the site is implemented, we use complex monitoring systems to pro-actively monitor the generation against the proposed numbers. Should the generation be out of line, our monitoring system will automatically generate alerts for our operational team. Solar is so reliable, that we are even committing equity into the plants we finance i.e. we put our money where our mouth is.

We also partner with the leading reinsurance house in the market, where they will cover you for any loss of generation impact during the contract period.

Solar is truly becoming a Zero Risk decision.

ABOUT DPA SERVICES

All questions about DPA solar power services
How much do I have to pay for Installation?

This all depends on whether you want to own the system or just want electricity at a cost lower than what you pay your utility. The cost varies with the size and complexity of the system, and whether or not you want batteries. What we do see is that the break-even period for DCI (Direct Capital Investments) has moved to less than 4 years on grid tied solutions.

If you want us to finance the solution and you just get the cost benefit, we can do it at a zero investment and we take all the risk during the contract period.

How long have you been in the Solar business (what experience do you have in this field), can I trust you?

Our team has been in the industry from early 2000 and came through the whole innovation cycle to date. The installed capacity of the team is one of the biggest on the African continent for Distributed Solar. We are very proud of the expertise we have in the business and we continuously improve our skills base through training and pulling new skills in the business.

As far as financial stability is concerned, our parent company has one of the best track records in Africa.

How are you different from all the other solar companies in the country?

We truly want to make going solar a Zero Risk, Zero Investment decision. Implementing solar is a long-term investment and with our mature operational structure, we make sure that you maximise your and our investment. We are not in the game to make a quick margin on the sale, but rather want to share the upside with you over the period of the contract. As far as skills development is concerned, our whole ethos is around Local Economic Development through our Technite initiative.

As far as using solar is concerned, we are in the process of rolling out solar for our own needs across Africa. So, we don’t just sell solar, we also use it in-house.

What Solar Packages do you offer?

We have various packages, covering Residential, Commercial, Retail, Industrial and Telco.

What type of batteries/Inverters come with your Solar systems (size, look, durability)?

We only use Tier 1 products and we continuously attend global conferences/exhibitions to make sure we stay close to the technology. With us financing most of our implementations, our debt partners (financial institutes) have very strict requirements and, in some cases, we will use independent Technical Advisors before we start a project.

The sizes vary from 2 kWp up to 100 kWp.

What warranty comes with your products?

The standard warrantees are as follows:

  1. Inverters = 5 years
  2. Panels = 10 years on product and 25 years on production
  3. Cabling, Racking etc. = 25 years
  4. Switch gear (circuit breakers) = 1 year

That being said, we are working with the leading manufacturers and on inverters, for instance, we can now get up to 15 year warrantees; some of the panel manufacturers will give us a 25 year product and production warranty.

Our installations also come with a full SLA at an annual charge, which will cover preventative and remedial maintenance.

How much time does the installation take? (How long will it take you to install Solar at my business, or home?)

How much time does the installation take? (How long will it take you to install Solar at my business, or home?)?

The typical timelines are as follows:

  • Residential = 2 days
  • Commercial = 1 month onsite per 200 kWp (Excluding delivery timelines)

The timelines can also be affected by the regulatory compliance requirements in the relevant country or the specific utility, but we always ensure we work closely with them and we do everything in compliance.

Will I have power while you do the installation?

Yes, there will be a short break in power when we do the switch-over, but that will all be managed by our project managers. We will not leave the site without the power being restored first. We can also do the switch-overs after hours, if required.

Where do the solar panels go (where will you erect the solar panels on my premises)?

This all depends on your building but, in general, we implement them on the roof, for which we will get structural sign-off first to make sure the roof can handle the extra weight. If the roof can’t handle the load or we don’t have enough space to justify your consumption profile, we will look at carports and ground mount solutions.

How many panels do I need for my home?

We typically will install 4 panels per 1 kWp, which will give you about 5kWh. 1kWp will use ±7m2 of space.

For my business, I assume the number of panels I need will be a large number, where will these be put?

This all depends on your building but, in general, we implement them on the roof, for which we will get structural sign-off first to make sure the roof can handle the extra weight. If the roof can’t handle the load or we don’t have enough space to justify your consumption profile, we will look at carports and ground mount solutions.

If there is no guaranteed saving in cost, what is the incentive for adopting solar?

We can link our installation to an insurance package from one of the big Reinsurance companies, where 90% of the production will be guaranteed. Unfortunately, it is only available for non-residential installations at this moment. The insurance will not just cover loss in generation, but also loss incurred during business interruption.

That being said, with all our implementations, we do include monitoring (24x7x365), which will alert us if the production is outside the proposed generation numbers.

What do I do when your Systems break down or stop working?

All our installations come with a monitoring solution and we should know about problems before you do. Failing that, we do have a call centre you can contact via various channels (Voice, Email, SMS etc.) and all our systems come with a pre-agreed SLA. Our operational management is built on the same principles as our Telco interest, where uptimes of 99.99% is the norm, so we do take this very serious. This is probably one of our core value propositions and we do have a continuous improvement process.

Where can I see installations that you have done in the past?

We have various installations and you are welcome to visit any of them on a pre-arranged basis.

How do I find you (should I have a problem), where are your local offices?

We have offices throughout Africa and you can see the locations on our website.

How do I find you (should I have a problem), where are your local offices?

We have offices throughout Africa and you can see the locations on our website.

If I invest in a Solar System, how long will it last?

This all depends on the warranty period from the technology partners but, in general, (excluding the inverters) it should last 25-years.

Do your systems require regular maintenance?

Our SLA includes regular preventative maintenance, where we clean the panels and also make sure the cabling infrastructure is still secure. The schedule will be communicated to you, but it is typically every 6 months.

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