We’re huge advocates for solar energy in Kenya, but we recognize it isn’t the right solution for everyone. While solar is sustainable and ultimately cheaper than electricity from power company in the long run, it also requires a significant up-front investment and doesn’t work for every property/roof type.
The ultimate question is whether the advantages of solar power in Kenya outweigh the disadvantages. In this article, we’ll present the pros and cons of solar energy so that you can decide if going solar makes sense for you.
While solar is sustainable and ultimately cheaper than electricity from power company in the long run, it also requires a significant up-front investment and doesn’t work for every property/roof type.
Advantages of Solar Energy
1. Energy independence
Traditionally, most people depend on the power company to supply them with power. When the grid goes down, going without power for an extended period of time can be a helpless feeling.
If you own a solar system with energy storage, you can keep generating power during emergencies. That peace of mind is invaluable if you live in a place with an unreliable power grid, or are regularly threatened by severe weather conditions.
It’s liberating to have complete control over where and how you produce energy. And with electricity costs rising, it also feels great to lock in a fixed rate for your electricity over the next few decades.
2. Eliminate your electricity bill
Who doesn’t love one less bill coming out of their paycheck? With a properly sized system, you can drastically reduce or completely eliminate your electricity bill.
Even if you extend your payback period by taking out a loan to finance your project, you still enjoy reduced electricity costs from the moment you flip the switch on your PV system.
This is the most exciting part of solar for many people: bringing the system online and watching their power bill disappear.
With a properly sized system, you can drastically reduce or completely eliminate your electricity bill.
A sustainable energy source is one that we can use without depleting the source of power. Oil and gas are not sustainable, because we consume those resources as we use them.
In contrast, solar is sustainable because the source of energy (sunlight) is constantly replenished. We can use solar energy without worrying about whether we will deplete the Earth’s natural resources for future generations.
4. Low maintenance
Solar systems don’t have a lot of moving parts. As a result, they rarely break down or require maintenance to keep them running optimally.
Panels are warrantied to last 25 years, but many have a much longer lifespan.You rarely, if ever, need to fix or replace panels.
It’s common to replace your inverter at least once over the life of your system, as inverters are typically warrantied for 10-15 years. But that’s about the only scheduled maintenance you will encounter for grid-tied systems.
Off-grid systems are a bit more complex because they must include batteries, which often require routine maintenance. Specifically, flooded lead-acid batteries (the cheapest option available) must be checked and refilled with water regularly to keep them functioning properly.
However, building a grid-tied system eliminates the need for batteries, so most people will rarely need to check in on their system for maintenance or replacements.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
1. It’s expensive to get started
Solar is expensive – at least upfront. To build a system that would power the average Kenyan home, you might pay Ksh 100,000 and more depending on the products you choose.
That doesn’t include the cost of logistics or installation.
Of course, you’re paying for at least 25 years of energy production upfront. In the long term, you break even on the investment and start to make money, but that doesn’t change the fact that not everyone has thousands of shillings in their pocket to get their solar dreams off the ground.
The up-front cost is the main barrier to going solar.
2. Energy storage is expensive.
Batteries are the single most expensive component of a solar power system. Not all systems require batteries, but they become mandatory when you go off the grid. They are also required if you need to supply backup power to your grid-tied property.
Expect to pay a lot more money when you add batteries to a system. Furthermore, batteries don’t last as long as the other parts of your system. Lead-acid battery warranties range from 1 to 7 years, meaning you’ll replace them 4 or 5 times before the panel warranty is up.
Lithium batteries justify their high price tag by lasting 10-15 years, but you’re still in for at least one replacement over the life of your system.
3. It’s better if you own your home (and won’t be moving for a while)
Solar can be a profitable investment, but the payback math assumes you’ll be living in the same property for the full duration of the 25-year warranty.
It takes several years to break even on the initial cost of the system before you start to pocket the savings from your electricity bill. Solar makes a lot less sense if you don’t own your home, or have the urge to move within the next few years.
Think about whether you’ll stick around for a while in your current property before you make the long-term investment into solar.
Questions? Consult a solar expert today.
Interested in our Solar Power installation services in Kenya? Call us today on 0715 020605. Alternatively, you can email us and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible. We install solar power systems in Nairobi, Kiambu, Ngong, Kajiado, Kitengela, Athi River, Machakos, Coast Province, Rift Valley, North Eastern, Central, Nyanza and countrywide for domestic and commercial clients.