Energy crisis in Pakistan is neither new nor it is going to end any time soon, we know this for a fact.
While you may agree that energy situation has just bettered (during Ramzan) but we aren’t sure if it is going to remain the same in coming days or not. I personally suppose that situation may remain uncertain for at least few years.
Considering the situation, businesses and home users have long been working to find the best alternate energy solutions to meet their energy requirements. UPS is a solution for some, generators for others but both involve energy input in one way or the other, leaving the whole equation somewhat unviable, especially when 16 out of 24 hours are spent without power.
Solar power is one avenue where Pakistanis have found the ultimate solution. It requires no external input – other than the sun shine – and can operate flawlessly for years and years.
General impression is that solar energy is expensive. It is. But probably not as much as one might think. Also the cost that solar energy can save you in the long-run brings you equally good ROI for well-structured investments made today.
In this post we will try to give you an idea of estimated cost that setting up solar energy system may require. So let’s go straight away to the business.
Planning the Solar Energy Plant
First thing you would want to do is to plan the solar energy plant as per your load requirement. That is, calculating the magnitude of electric load your solar plant will be required to produce.
For the purpose, the first thing you need to do is to make a list of things that you would want to run on Solar energy. Naturally, more load will mean more investment requirement and vice versa.
Power Required for Home Appliances:
To help you with calculating the energy load, we are listing below few things with the respective energy load they consume to operate:
- Energy Saver: 10/20/40 Watts
- Fan: 90-110 Watts
- Some Older fans consumer 120 Watts
- Tube Lights:
- Full tube: 40 Watts
- Half tube: 20 Watts
- LED Bulbs: 7 Watts
- LED TV (Almost all sizes): 30 to 40 Watts
- LCD TV (Almost all sizes): 90-100 Watts
- Old TVs: 300-400 Watts
- Iron: 1000 Watts
- Refrigerator: They consume 250 Watts to 700 Watts depending on make and type
- Deep Freezers: 600 Watts
- Water Motor
- half horse power: 325 Watts
- One Horse Power: 750 Watts
- Laptop: 15-20 Watts
- Router/Modems/Chargers (Combined): 10-15 Watts
- During first half an hour or so when compressor runs at full throttle: 2800-3000 Watts
- Rest of the time when temperature settles down: 1500 Watts
- Invertor ACs:
- During first half an hour or so when compressor runs at full throttle: 1800 Watts
- Rest of the time when temperature settles down: 500-600 Watts
Items listed above and their corresponding energy requirements may vary for different situations, depending on conditions, make and their age. But we can take above mentioned values to plan our solar energy plant.
Just to mention, Invertor type ACs are comparatively a new thing, they cost little extra. For example a 1.5 ton Invertor AC from Haier will cost you around Rs. 60,000 as compared to Rs. 40,000 for usual AC from the same company. But they save energy and are usually recommended when your energy source is powered by a solar system.
Things you need for Solar Energy Plant
Below are three things that you will need during the entire setup of
- Solar Panels
Solar panels are those black plates installed on roof tops. These panels are responsible for converting the sun-shine into electric energy. These solar panels come on per watts basis, that is, a solar panel can be of 100 watts. Putting two such panels will get you 200 watts and so on.
Batteries are required to store electricity for night-time load shedding. During day time your system will power up the appliances, but you have to store energy to make sure that appliances are powered smoothly during night time load-shedding when solar-plant isn’t producing any electricity.
Inverters are used to convert electricity into a form that is usable by our appliances.
Cost of a Solar Plant
Above mentioned three items will cost according to the electricity requirements we may have depending on our needs.
As a reference, let’s assume following situation:
We need to run following items on solar energy:
- 2 Fans
- 2 Energy Savers
- 1 laptop
- and few chargers
Here’s the corresponding load we will need:
- 2 Fans: 110 x 2 = 220 Watts
- 2 Energy Savers: 20 x 2 = 40 Watts
- 1 laptop = 20 Watts
- and few charges = 10 Watts
- Total: 270 Watts
Ideally speaking we will require 270 Watts of energy to be produced by solar system that we are going to deploy in our example case.
Practically, we will deploy 540 Watts panels, because when on Solar energy – during day time – we need to power our appliances with 270 watts, plus we need to charge our batteries too for usage during load-shedding in the night.
Here is the corresponding cost for 540 Watts of Panels:
- Solar Panel: Rs. 100 per watt = Rs. 100 x 540 = Rs. 54,000
- Invertor – we will need 1KW invertor = Rs. 26,000
- Batteries: 2 x 200 Amp batteries: Rs. 13,000 x 2 = Rs. 26,000
- Total Cose: Rs. 54,000 + Rs. 26,000 + Rs. 26,000 = Rs. 106,000
- You can use one battery instead of 2, but that will store lesser amount of electricity – which will give shorter back-up time during nights. Same as we deal with UPS batteries — more the battery power will mean more back-up time.
- With two batteries and the load requirements in our example case the back-up time will be around 4-6 hours during night.
- Please note that during day time you won’t require batteries, so technically speaking – you can run this solar plant for assumed load for whole day (as far as the sun is up).
- Since the load is 540 Watts, 1KW inverter will do the job. If load was 2400 Watts then you would have to use 3KW inverter.
- Pricers of bigger inverters are given below.
So you need to spend Rs. 106,000 for the solar plant to power up 2 fans, 2 energy savers, one laptop and few chargers for seamless up-time.
Here are Few things to note:
- Price of solar plant may differ. Above mentioned price of Rs. 100 per watt solar plant is market average rate for premium quality Chinese plants
- You can get European (German) solar panels for Rs. 150 per watt, but that’s just additional cost as Chinese panels work fine.
- If your load exceeds 500 watts then you will have to use high-voltage inverters, that is 2 KW, 3kW or above. Here are estimated prices for bigger inverters:
- 1 KW Inverter: Rs. 26,000
- 2 KW Inverter: Rs. 35,000
- 3 KW Inverter: Rs. 45,000
- 4 KW Inverter: Rs. 60,000
- 5 KW Inverter: Rs. 80,000
- 10 KW Inverter: Rs. 200,000
- P.S. Prices of inverters also vary, depending on the quality and made. Prices mentioned here are for good quality Chinese inverters
- Number of batteries will also depend on the load you may require to store. Here’s the desi formula for calculating back-up timing of a battery:
- Amperes of battery x number of hours with sun-shine / load = Back-up time in hours
- Example: (200Amp + 200Amp) x 10 hours / 540 Watts = around 7 Hours
Amount of batteries required in your solar plant can be determined by using or re-arranging above desi formula:
- Back up time = Amperes of Battery x Number of Hours with Sun-shine / Load
- Amperes of Battery = Back up time required / Number of hours with Sun Shine x Load
Further things to note:
- Life of solar panels is around 25 years, however, with time the efficiency or electricity-production ability of panels lessens
- Life time of dry-battery is around 5-7 years
- Life time of liquid-battery is around 2 years
- Solar panels work fine below 45 degree Celsius
- Solar panels work well even in hilly areas, such as Murree
Disclaimer: Anything mentioned above is produced after market survey with purpose to give you an idea about solar plants and its pricings. These rates, however, may vary to any extent. Special thanks to Waqas Khaleeq for helping us in preparing this post.
If there’s anything un-answered or not clear, please go ahead and ask in comments below and I will do my best to address them.