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Basics of Solar Power Systems
By Vondex Solar | 21/03/13 | Solar

  A basic Solar Power system consists of the following;

1. Solar Panels (Wp.); are the core of a Solar Power System and are basically made from silicon and come in two types, Amorphous (brown colour) and Mono/Polycrystalline silicon (bluish colour), the amorphous being older and cheaper technology but less reliable and has a very short life span.  The Mono/Polycrystalline silicon panels are newer technology and of much better quality and last for many years with warranties of 20 to 25 years at 80% to 90% efficiency.  Solar panels convert radiation/light energy from the sun, directly into electrical energy, without moving parts, noise or emissions.
2. Solar Controller (A); controls the systems working condition, it protects the battery from over-charge and discharge; protects the solar panels from feed-back from the batteries; monitors the state and levels of battery charge, solar panel charging, temperature and appliance status.
3. Battery (Ah); these are charged by the Solar Panels through the Controller and stores energy from the Solar panels, it then releases Direct Current (DC) power when it is needed.  Batteries can be arranged in different configurations from 12v up-to 48 volts and larger, batteries for Solar should be deep cycle and maintenance free to ensure longer life span.
4. Inverters (W); convert Direct Current power from the battery to Alternating Current (AC of 220V) for the use of all electrical equipment and appliances.  They also have the capacity to charge batteries from mains electrics. 


1. Location; either on grid as back for power outage & load shedding; or off grid where no power is available.
2. Usage; Average hours needed per day.
3. Load; Total number of watts per appliance and number of appliances will give the total power (watts) needed.
4. Design; Load (W) x Usage (hrs.) = WHrs / 5.5hrs (Av. Useable sunshine in Zimbabwe) = Watt peak (Solar panel size) / 12V; 24V or 48Volt = Battery bank needed.


1. Uses - Solar Power Systems have many uses and can be applied to the following:Lighting for home, office, streets, security and etc.; TV’s & entertainment systems; Computers, printers& charging for home and office; Refrigeration for domestic, clinics, tuck shops and all areas without electricity; Water pumping and boreholes; Tobacco curing fans and many other uses for domestic, industrial and agricultural.
2. Advantages – The advantages of using Solar Power is that it is green & renewable; clean& free of emissions; silent& low maintenance with no moving parts.  After the initial capital outlay the power is free, maintenance costs are very low and with newer technology deep cycle batteries, only need to be replaced every couple of years.  Easy installation and can be used where no Zesa is available or as back-up for power cuts and load shedding.

Herald Business 23/11/2013