FAQ - Solar Power Systems
When selecting a supplier for a solar system, it is best to pay attention to the following:
– Amount of questions / data they request
– Brands they use.
– Experiences with similar projects
– Response time.
– Attention to safety
– Remote monitoring
Generally speaking, it is best to have the solar panels facing North as this would generate the most power throughout the year. However, since Tanzania is so close to the equator the orientation does not matter that much. The period in which you consume most of the energy has a slight effect. For example, if your peak in consumption is in December you may want to orientate the panels South. In case you mainly use electricity in the afternoon, or when you are located in a microclimate with lots of cloud cover in the morning you might want to orientate your panels to the West.
The optimal pitch in Tanzania is 10-15 degrees. The reason behind this is that the panels are cleaned by rain. When putting them flatter, dirt could accumulate on the panel.
Smaller DC-coupled systems without inverter can only power DC-appliances. Though most appliances use AC-power, there is a growing amount of DC-appliances available in the Tanzanian market. Think particularly about DC-LED Bulbs, DC-Fans and DC-TV’s.
A system with an inverter can also power AC-appliances. Pretty much all appliances can be connected to a solar power system, however, you should pay attention to appliances providing heat. Electric boilers, heaters, stoves and ovens require a lot of power for a long time. Normally it is more economical to power these appliances using solar water heaters or gas.
As long as the solar panels are mounted with a pitch of 10-15 degrees, most of the dirt should be washed of by the rain. When the solar modules are particularly dirty, and no rain is expected due to a dry season, it can be smart to clean the solar panels though. Cleaning the solar panels should be done with a soft cloth (to protect the coating) and ideally demineralized water.
FAQ - Solar Power Systems, the Financials
In case you are currently connected to TANESCO, the utility of mainland Tanzania or ZECO, the utility of Zanzibar, you can check the current prices here. Naturally, this requires that you know how much electricity you are using per day, month or year. On the same page you can also find an estimate of the costs of running a diesel generator.
The costs of an off-grid solar power system is directly related to the amount of energy you are using. Another important factor is how reliable you want the power to be and whether you opt for including a backup generator or not. You can find a tool to provide you with an indication of the costs here (under development).
It is currently not allowed to feed back into the grid in Tanzania without approval from Tanesco. Unless you are an Independent Power Producer (IPP) and have all the necessary approvals and meters, you won’t benefit from feeding back into the grid in Tanzania.
Whether you should choose to buy or to lease a solar power system depends on your personal situation.
Buying a solar power system will be cheaper in the long run, however, requires you to have the total amount upfront.
Leasing your solar power system will be more expensive in the long run. As you are paying per kWh / per month, however, the company which is leasing you the system has a clear incentive to make sure that the system is performing. Additionally, leasing a system could provide you with the financial space to make investments in areas which yield a higher return. Leasing a system does require you to be creditworthy though.
Aside from your regular bank there are companies specialized in providing loans for solar power systems. Contact us in case you are interested to be connected.
Most solar home systems offered in Tanzania automatically come with a lease. After paying a deposit the system is paid back over time using mobile money.