Loadshedding.pk presents a comprehensive solar energy frequently asked questions for Pakistani visitors. We’ve compiled this list of FAQs related to solar power, solar energy... Solar Panels, Solar Energy and Solar Power – Frequently Asked Questions

Loadshedding.pk presents a comprehensive solar energy frequently asked questions for Pakistani visitors. We’ve compiled this list of FAQs related to solar power, solar energy and solar panels based on real questions that we’ve received from our visitors on this website. This list also shares some price structures for basic solar configurations. Over the months we will continue to add more commonly asked questions to it based on your feedback. We hope you find this compilation useful in helping you decide on the right solar setup for your home.

You can visit our Comprehensive Solar Guide for information and details on installation, pricing and manufacturers.

What is solar energy?

Sun is a powerful source of energy, producing enough energy to fulfill our needs. However, the energy produced is in raw form, and needs to be converted to electricity. This energy is called solar energy.

What is a solar panel?

A system that successfully converts sun’s energy into electricity is Solar System. The solar system consists of solar panels which absorb the sun’s rays and converts it to electricity.

How solar panels work?

The solar system absorbs the sun’s rays through photovoltaic cells, which are made of a semiconductor material such as silicon. When the light shines on the cells, the rays are converted into direct current (DC). An inverter then converts the DC current to alternating current (AC).

What is the difference between solar panels and integrated photovoltaic products?

Solar panels are mounted on rooftops or poles to absorb the sun’s light. Integrated photovoltaic products are integrated with windows, roof tiles or walls. Solar panels can be installed in existing homes, buildings, and new buildings, whereas the integrated photovoltaic products are installed in new buildings or in buildings requiring major renovation.

How does a solar panel function during cloudy or rainy days?

Solar systems are most effective when the panels receive direct sunlight. The panels will still generate electricity when it is cloudy or when the sun’s rays are blocked, but the output will be less. Rain will help to clean the solar panels by removing the dirt and dust which will enable the panels to work efficiently. When the solar system is designed and installed, all these factors are taken into consideration, and the system is installed to ensure maximum productivity.

How does a solar panel work at night?

Solar panels convert sunlight to electricity. The excess electricity is stored in a rechargeable battery. At night time, when the excess electricity is needed for consumption, it is passed from the battery to the stand alone inverter for conversion into AC form. After that, it can be consumed.

How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels have a long life. Most solar panels have a warranty of 20 years, while they last up to 40 years. If they are installed and maintained properly, they will last long.

What kind of maintenance is required for solar panels?

There is no maintenance required since there are no moving parts. The only care required is cleaning the panel’s surface to remove dust, dirt, and debris.

What about damage to solar installation?

This needs to be confirmed with the installer what kinds of insurance they have.

How strong are solar panels?

Solar panels are strong and typically quite rugged, enclosed in a glass. It is similar to the windshield of a car. The glass can survive high winds and hailstorms.

Does cold weather affect solar panels?

Solar panels work efficiently when there is sunlight. It doesn’t matter if it’s windy, cold or cloudy. As long as there is sunshine, electricity will be produced.

What types of solar systems are available?

There are quite a few solar system configurations available in the market. Most of them are configured for industries, with only a few options for residences.

How do I know which one is suitable for me?

The solar panel company will first visit your site and make an evaluation based on the space, and the amount of sunlight received. Based on that, the best solar system will be designed for you.

Are all solar panels built the same?

Every manufacturer uses different materials to build solar panels so the quality will be different. It is better to get opinions from people who have installed solar systems to find out about their experience.

How much weight would solar panels add to my roof?

Panels weigh no more than 2 kg/sq ft. Most roofs can accommodate 2-3 panels as the weight is light. When designing the solar system, your roof load capacity will be considered.

My roof needs repair, should I install the panels first and then repair the roof?

If your roof needs repair, it is advisable to repair the roof first and then install solar panels. Otherwise, the cost to repair the roof will double once the panels have been installed.

How much solar energy can be produced from the roof?

It depends on the size of the roof, the solar average solar radiation/sunlight for the area and the type/quality of solar panels installed. A roof is the best source for sunlight. The solar panels may be able to generate 50% of the electricity consumed. This will reduce the bill significantly.

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How much do solar systems cost?

Solar systems are available in different configurations. After your requirements are evaluated then the answer to this will be available.

Do I need to have a battery?

Solar systems work directly as well, however in country’s like Pakistan that experience significant load shedding, a battery bank is an absolute must. The electricity generated by solar panels is converted by the inverter and stored in the battery. In developed countries, solar panels sometimes power homes directly without the need for a battery bank during the day and automatically switch over to the grid at night. A typical household with a solar installation will be producing electricity during the day and consuming from the grid during the night time. Utility companies or DISCOs will typically credit cost of electricity produced and adjust it in the monthly electricity bill. This is also called net metering.

How much will I save with a solar system?

This depends on the size of the solar system installed and the overall consumption patterns. Typical payback periods may range anywhere between three to eight years. Solar energy is cheaper than the electricity provided by the utility company. Your electricity bills will be reduced depending on the size of the solar system every month without factoring in the initial outlay of the solar system. Suffice to say, you may decide to power everything through solar and completely disconnect yourself form the grid.

When will I start to see the results?

You’ll notice a drop in your electricity bill straight away after the installation of the solar system.

When is the expected payback of my investment?

Once the system has been installed, the estimated payback time on the investment is almost 3-8 years depending on the make and size of the components in the solar setup.

How can I calculate the cost and payback time myself?

Once the system is installed, you’ll know the total amount spent on it. As far as electricity saving is concerned, you’ll have to compare the present bill with past bills and then calculate the monthly savings. After 2-3 years, you’ll have a better calculation of how much you invested, and how much were you able to save.

How many items can be run on a 1000W system?

A 1000W system can support 4 fans, 8 energy saver lights, 1 LCD TV, and 1 0.75HP water pump.

How will I know if the system is producing electricity?

The inverter’s LED displays if electricity is being produced or not. You’ll be able to know the status, and also how much electricity is being produced.

I’ve never heard of most companies that make inverters, what is the guarantee that they will last?

All inverters are manufactured overseas, mainly in Taiwan. They have a year warranty, and if any problem arises within that time frame, they’ll be replaced.

Which element of the solar panel will malfunction first?

Since the panel will last for more than 30 years, it’s the battery and inverter that have the greatest chance of malfunctioning first.

What is the difference between a true wave and a modified sine wave inverter?

The electricity converted by a true sine wave inverter is of the same quality as one supplied by the electricity company.  The electricity from a sine wave inverter is of less quality, and chances are some appliances might malfunction when using a modified sine wave. For more details please read our UPS buying guide.

Which inverter rating is good?

Inverters have different power ratings ranging from 1kVA to 10kVA. The higher the rating, the more electricity will be produced.

Do I need a charge controller?

A charge controller is important since it regulates the charge on the batteries. It gives full charge to battery when required, and less charge when less is required.

What kind of battery do I need?

There are different types of batteries available for use in the solar system. These are flooded lead acid batteries, sealed batteries, deep cycle batteries, and absorbed glass matt (AGM) batteries. A flooded lead acid battery lasts longer, and has to be maintained regularly kike checking its water level, and other maintenance. A sealed battery is a maintenance free battery and its water level doesn’t need to be checked. A deep cycle battery doesn’t have the capacity to produce electricity for a long time, and undergoes many charge – discharge cycles daily. An absorbed glass matt battery features a glass mat between the plates which enables the battery to be charged for longer periods than a traditional battery.

What are Watts and Kilowatts?

Watts is a unit of power. A solar system is described in the number of Watts like a 1000 W or 1500 W system. One kilowatt is equal to 1000 W. Kilowatt hours are the number of units you consume from the local electricity supplier, and is mentioned in the electricity bill.

Is it true that the energy required to make solar panels is greater than they will every produce.

It takes 2-3 years to generate as much power as is required to manufacture solar panels. But the payback from solar energy is more than from any other electricity source.

Is it possible to use solar energy during day time through batteries and charge controller on my existing ups, and switch to Wapda during night time?

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Most solar inverters come with the option of prioritizing. Usually the system is configured to harness power directly from your panels whenever sunlight is available. In the absence of sunlight, it turns to WAPDA or your grid. Lastly during loadshedding hours and in the absence of night, your system will provide power through your batteries.

Can you give an estimate of the configuration system I should use if I want to operate a 1.5 ton split AC on the solar panel?

You will need a minimum 5 k Watts solar power system. The system will cost you around Rs 633,000. It’s recommending to use DC inverter air conditioners. For more details on air conditioners, please visit our comprehensive Air Conditioners Buying guide.

I have a 2kv solar system already installed that operates 8 lights, 5 fans, an LCD TV, a cordless phone, mobile charger, Internet and PTCL TV ( smart TV box), and a refrigerator. Now I like to upgrade it so that an AC and a water pump could also be added to the solar system. Can you please advise me how much the capacity of the solar system should be to support the AC and water pump, and also the estimate to upgrade the system?

It depends on the size of your AC. A typical 1.5 ton air conditioner is rated at 2k watts whereas a quarter horsepower motor or above is rated anywhere between 800 to 1200 watts. So you need at least 5K watts which will cost between Rs 500k to 600k.

I want install a solar system at my home that will operate 3 energy savers, a LCD TV, and a laptop for 24 hours. Can you give an estimate for such a system?

You’ll need a minimum 750 Watts solar power system. The system will cost you around Rs 303,000

I want to install a solar system in my house in Rahim Yar Khan. It will operate 8 energy saver bulbs, 5 ceiling fans, an air cooler, a LED TV,2 refrigerators, and a 1.5 ton split AC. Please give an estimate for the solar configuration, and if you can provide contact numbers of local dealers or distributors.

We recommend at least a 5KVa system with a large battery bank due to the air conditioner which results in rapid discharge of batteries. The cost will range between 5 lacs to 6.5 lacs. We will be forwarding details for vendors to you soon.

I want your help in deciding a solar system for my Home. The load will be 6 fans, 10 energy savers, and a LCD TV. Can you recommend me the most cost effective system and reference of any dealer?

You will need a 1000 Watts solar system. We will be forwarding details for vendors to you soon.

I want to operate a solar AC only on the solar system for 4 hours during day time and 5 hours during night.  Can you advise which configuration will be best for me?

If you want to just run an AC, you will need a 2k Watts solar system. It’ll cost Rs 460,500.

I need a solar system to operate 4 or 5 celling fans, 6 or 8 energy saver bulbs, 2 exhaust fans, and one room size fridge. Please give me an estimate for the solar configuration. I live in Distric Swabi KPK, if you can kindly refer any dealers over there.

You will need a 2.5k Watts solar system. The cost will be around Rs 575,500. We will be forwarding details for vendors to you soon.

I need a solar system to operate 5 celling fans, 5 tubelights, a refrigerator, a water dispenser, 2 laptops, and a pc. Can you advise which configuration will be best for me?

We recommend a 2.5 – to 3 kilowatt system. Estimated cost PKR 550,000 to 650,000

I need a solar system to operate 4 celling fans, 8 energy savers, 3 tube lights, 2 LCD TVs, a refrigerator, a electric water motor, 2 routers, 3 laptops, and a 2.5 ton AC. Can you advise which configuration will be best for me?

You’ll need a 4 to 5k Watts solar system. The cost will be from Rs 892,000 to Rs 1,007,000.

I need a solar system to operate 3 fans, 5 lights, a refrigerator, and a water pump.  Can you advise which configuration will be best for me?

You’ll need a 3k watts solar system. They cost for it will be Rs 633,000.

I need a solar system to operate 2 fans, 3 energy savers, a TV, and a refrigerator. Please give me an estimate for the solar configuration. And how much area will I require on the roof for the installation?

You’ll need a 1.5k or 2k watts solar system. The cost for these will be between Rs 460,500 to 480,000. Small area is required for it, and a professional installer will better guide you.

I need a solar system to operate 8 fans, 10 energy savers, 2 LED TVs, a water dispenser, and a refrigerator. Can I set up a system that doesn’t require batteries even though grid system is not working in Pakistan?

You’ll need a system with batteries. All solar systems require batteries as the system charges the battery which in turn provides electricity. In your case, you’ll need a 3k Watts system which will cost Rs 633,000.

I have a UPS which operates 3 ceiling fans and 6 energy savers. I want to add a solar system to the UPS. Can you give an estimate on how much it’ll cost to add the solar panels?

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Since you already have a UPS and a battery, you’ll only need solar panel, charge controller, and the installation equipment. If your UPS is 700 VA or less, then the cost will be Rs49,000 to add the solar system. If you have a 1kVA system, then your cost will be Rs 89,000.

I need a solar system to operate 3 celling fans, 4 energy savers, and a 1.5 ton AC. Can you advise which configuration will be best for me?

We would recommend no less than a 7.5Kva system will an adequate battery bank. Cost can be anywhere between PKR 1.2 million to 1.5 million

I think solar power is expensive compared to Wapda since the systems start from 2lac. If I spend 5K monthly, I can continue utilizing Wapda electricity for 3.5 years and spend that much amount on bills. A UPS can be connected for loadshedding. I’ll save money through Wapda and not on solar system.

The upfront charges seem high, but you save on electricity costs. You get your investment paid back in 2-3 years’ time. Plus with Wapda there is also an issue of transformer getting burned or no light for 12-18 hours straight. UPS won’t be able to provide back up for so long.

I already have 2 UPS, which are made in China, installed in my house and I received a suggestion to add a 4kv or 5 kv solar system with only a dc to ac inverter to the UPS. The system will be connected to the main electric panel through a simple change over switch (so that I can switch to Wapda during night time or when there is no light and during day to solar), similar to how generators function. Is this configuration possible? And if it is, will I be able to save on installation costs and solar battery? Can you give an estimate of a 5kv solar system?

You can add a 4k or 5k Watts solar system to your UPS and it’ll be much cheaper than having to install the solar system on its own. You’ll just need to add a solar panel and charge controller. For example a 1.5k Watts solar system costs Rs 460,500, but if it is added to a 3kVA UPS system, then the total cost reduces to Rs 249,000.

Can you help me calculate the break-even on installing a solar panel on a medium sized house unit which uses only 500W. If you can also guide me on how the Wapda bill will be reduced before and after solar energy is implemented.

It depends on your total energy consumption for the month. More importantly what is the daily household consumption in kWh. Breakeven can range from 2 years to 7 years depending on the size, make and installation of the solar system.

I have a 220 Watt battery and a 1500 Watt UPS. If I add a solar panel to this configuration, will an inverter be required?

A charge controller is required for this configuration.

I want to set up a solar system with grid-tie function. I have 3kw infini Plus system. Please guide me since net metering facility is not available in Pakistan yet.

It is not possible at the moment since when you connect to grid-tie, you’re supplying electricity to the grid. The electricity company is buying electricity from you and your meter is running backward, giving you credit.  At the moment, you can still connect it to grid tie, but you won’t get any benefit. You’ll be providing Wapda free electricity.

I have a 5 kva Voltronics Axpert solar system (48v) connected to 36 panels of 150w each, which provide 5400w. The system includes 8 batteries of 200amp which connected in series or parallel provide 400 watts. The problem is that the maximum charging amp supported by the batteries is 40 Amp. I am not able to use the full energy produced by the solar amp which is 60 Amp.

The configured the Axpert inverter to charge only 40 Amps and not more since higher current can damage the batteries.

I want to add a charge controller to the system, probably Midnight or Outback, so that half of the batteries can be charged through the inverter and the others through the charge controller. Is it possible to connect four batteries in series to charge with the inverter and the other four in series with the charge controller? Will it damage the inverter?

This configuration can be set up. No damage will be done to the inverter or the batteries. However, a qualified person should make the changes to ensure that another wire is not removed by mistake which can lower the output.

Are there any taxes, duties or other fees applied on import of solar panels, batteries and inverter?

At the moment there are no import duties on solar panels. There were import duties enforced due to the pressure of local solar panels manufacturers, but these duties have been removed because the local panels are not certified like imported panels. There is no duty on inverter. You should confirm about dry battery.

Can you guide me regarding solar tube well set up like the cost if the water level is 150 feet and a 3 inch water line is required?

The cost will be around Rs. 2 lakhs.