Taking advantage of solar power in Nigeria might seem like an attractive alternative to PHCN's unreliability but its upfront cost can be discouraging to most. This article discusses strategies for getting around this obstacle.
To meet the most basic needs of lighting and phone charging, customers may choose a micro-solar system with an integrated panel, battery pack, lights, and phone charging outlets. Such systems often cost a fraction of the cost of a conventional solar system. The downside is that such system often have very limited power capacity so cannot carry appliances like fans or televisions. You can find such systems listed in the solar panels section of our online store.
Solar systems consist of a typical inverter+batteries system in addition to solar panels and supporting components. If the upfront cost is challenging and there's some PHCN supply, a prospective solar user may opt for installing just the inverter and batteries and deferring the solar installation till a later time. For instance, our recent customer in Ibafo, Lagos previously had an inverter installed and engaged SolarKobo afterwards to add 1kWp of solar to it.
I know we all want to run our ACs, blender, microwave oven etc. on the solar system. If the cost of getting a system that can run all these appliances is prohibitive, we can consider a phased approach where we install just enough solar panels for our basic needs and add more panels in the future as income allows. To take advantage of this approach, it is useful to have a large enough charge controller to allow for future expansion. The charge controller is a necessary component for all solar system installations. It prevents over-charging of the batteries and optimizes the charging parameters as the solar system behavior varies with temperature and solar intensity. Charge controllers have a maximum rating that determines how many and what sizes of panels may be connected. Using larger-than-necessary charge controllers allow for future expansion. We recently expanded our previous 2kWp office installation in Lekki to 3kWp of solar. This was only possible because we had the foresight to initially use an Outback 60A MPPT charge controller which has a capacity of 3kW when configured at 48V.
Solar companies like SolarKobo also offer customers financing options that allow them put down a small deposit and pay off the rest of the cost of the solar system over the next several months. Many of our customers opt for this and it allows them start enjoying the benefits of the solar system even while still paying off the system. See our cost page for our financing options.
Even though high-quality components cost more, they last longer and cost less in the long-run. That's why SolarKobo places an emphasis on using the highest-quality component brands for our installations. Here are some example brands that we use:
For customers with large generators, rather than get a conventional solar system with batteries, they might opt for a fuel-save solution which uses solar panels to save on the cost of running generators. This helps avoid the upfront cost of the batteries which are usually about half the upfront cost of the system. Long-term, batteries also cost significantly more than other components of the system because they have to be replaced every few years. The downside of this set-up is that customers will need to continue spending on generators even if that spending is reduced. Also, the system only saves on fuel in the daytime since there are no batteries to store any excess solar energy generated in the daytime for later use at night.