Solar equipment seen increasingly viable for household users

Posted on June 02, 2016

SOLAR power is becoming more affordable for households with the cost of solar panels and inverters having dropped significantly through the years, a Philippine pioneer of solar technology said.

Ferdinand I. Raquelsantos, president of Solar & Wind Electric Power, Inc., said prices have been dropping since 2007 while solar energy technology continues to improve.

“Solar electric panel prices have gone down significantly in the past few years and finally, it is now affordable to households in the Philippines,” he said. “Our own prices alone are now 83% lower than when we first started.”

Mr. Raquelsantos’ company has been in the business for almost 10 years. It sells two solar power packages -- the off-grid system that uses battery banks, and the grid-tie system, which is the most common system installation.

“Several years ago, we only focused on the high-scale residential villages,” he said about the company’s expansion that now covers what he called C and D households.

“The minimum systems package we have is the 1,530-watt grid-tie system equipped with six solar panels at 255 watts each and coupled to an inverter. For off-grid systems, power generated is stored in rechargeable batteries,” he said.

Mr. Raquelsantos explained that the grid-tie system is based on the net metering system of the utility provider, which is Manila Electric Co. for Metro Manila.

“This is the process wherein you supply your excess harvest of power from your solar panels and feed it to the grid... and then retrieve it back when needed,” he said.

He said during daytime, solar panels generate power, and if the load in solar-powered home is minimal, the excess is fed into the grid.

“At night, your load draws power from the grid and practically gets back whatever you have supplied to the grid earlier during the day. However, this system requires the replacement of your existing regular electric meter to allow recording of the input and output of power as it nets out the actual consumption,” he said.

Mr. Raquelsantos said his company was established to deal with the design, installation and commissioning of solar systems packages, and even wind turbine systems.

“We cater mostly to residential and industrial or factory roof top installations. With whatever size of system you purchase, it will have an approximate product life of about 20 years,” he said.

“You will get your money back in about four years and the rest of the 16 years, your electrical power is free,” he added.

He said 10 years ago, the systems package that the company was selling had a payback period of 13.5 years due to the high cost of the systems at that time. -- Victor V. Saulon