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development of renewable energy.

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Buying a solar PV system

It is strongly recommended that you only purchase from a SESSA accredited supplier or installer.

Consult the SESSA Member Directory for a list of accredited installers in your area. The SESSA Ombudsman is also at hand to address problems or issues arising as a result of manufacturing problems, poor installation or bad service from a supplier or service provider. A number of SESSA members are also registered with PVGreenCard or the P4 quality assurance platform.

PV is a major investment and all steps towards being as energy efficient as possible should be taken before you investigate and ultimately size a solar PV system.

Ask the companies you are considering to conduct a site visit and advise you on suitable systems, positioning as well as other factors affecting performance (roof orientation, tilt, shading). Most installation companies can provide you with a simulation report or detailed calculation results on the expected solar yield for your specific case. The kWh produced and the usable kWh will be the essential factors in determining the financial feasibility of the system. Installer companies should at the very least ask for your utility bills for the monthly/daily consumption in order to size the system correctly. Ideally the power consumption is logged over the space of several weeks to obtain an accurate usage profile that can be used for detailed sizing calculations. This is particularly important when sizing a storage solution to double as a UPS or for off-grid systems. You may consider approaching an independent consultant to advise on system type and size an appropriate system for your home or business.

A minimum of 3 quotes should be obtained before a decision is made and the brand and reputation of the product should be considered. As most of the components are imported the current Rand strength or weakness will have a direct effect on the price.

Recommendation from existing users is a good place to start and as for the type and size of system, consumers should carefully compare price quotes, warranties given, installation track record and keep a complete file of all documentation. Make sure to obtain an electrical Certificate of Compliance (COC) for the electrical PV installation. The onus is on the homeowners to ensure that they have this certificate in their possession – not the installer. In the absence of a valid certificate, an insurance company could repudiate a claim. It is also important for homeowners to know that, if they wish to sell their home they are required to provide a COC covering the electrical installations.

It is required to register a grid-tied PV system (including existing systems) with your municipality, regardless of whether electricity can be fed into the grid. This is currently not being enforced or sanctioned, however the onus is once again on the owner – not the installer to comply with the SSEG regulations. Registration must be completed before installation and can be a lengthy process. It is advisable to choose an installation company that has experience with the registration procedure in your municipality when embarking on this route.

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