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DATE: June 2012 | CREW: Kevin, Matt, Shawn, Gypsy | SILVERADO: 97km
Project NET093 - 2.4kW solar array, grid-tied, with SMA 2.7kW Sunny Boy

Net Metering a reality in SA, for some!

Project brief: Install a grid tie system for me and let's see if my meter spins backwards...

Mr Rabie is a sustainability enthusiast and had worked out numerous possibilities for his Durban Home in which to cut carbon corners and empower himself thru gardening and aquaponics. After a year of testing wind speeds at his home with an anemometer, he found the annual wind speeds not sufficient for installing a wind turbine, and decided to install an array of solar electric panels designed to compliment his daily electric usage.

old electromagnetic electric meterThe Rabie home is an interesting installation. Being quite old, it has an old analogue electricity meter entering the house. The urban legend about these old meters is that if you installed a sustainable electricity device, and turned off all your appliances, then the power that your rooftop solar generates will feed into the national grid and as it passes the meter, it actually turns the electromagnetic disc backwards!

Although undoubtedly illegal for those whose pockets it compromises, the act of spinning your electricity meter backwards is far more fun than it might appear, and represents to the academic, a system of electricity buy-back already in place, that is known in Europe as 'net-metering', where utility companies pay citizens for the domestic power generation that they do not use.

sma solar durbanMr Rabie's system is installed for this purpose, and is called a 'grid-tie' system, meaning that he has no battery bank - only solar panels and the intelligent SMA grid-tie inverter, a device which conditions the quality of the electricity, whilst also taking preference over the solar electric, as opposed to the grid electric. This configuration is really designed to bring down the bills more than anything else, as a 'net-metering' system would - or in Mr Rabie's case, the old meter with a loophole the municipal council didn't think of back when they built it. In any case, he has us on speed dial when he decides to take his home off the grid completely by adding a battery bank and creating an 'island' system.

All of our electricity projects, be it wind power or solar, conform to the highest standards. Each project comes with blueprints of the design and is inspected by our associated electrical engineers.

Our apologies go out for not having a picture of our installed Sunny Boy inverter, instead is supplimented is an image from the SMA webpage.

updated: Mon 15 Sep 2014


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