Case studies – Ed Hill – Specialised Solar Systems


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Presentation by Ed Hill of Specialised Solar Systems at the CHOICES project community energy workshops in Somerset East, Pearston and Cookhouse communities, Blue Crane Route Municipality in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, held in February and March 2013.

The presentation describes case studies of the work of Specialised Solar Systems.

More information about Specialised Solar Systems:

Further details of the CHOICES project:

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Case studies – Ed Hill – Specialised Solar Systems

  2. 2. ISAAC XLAKWE, THEMBALETHU, GEORGE 2011 Research Paper by WJ Loftus, NMMU, George
  3. 3. “Before installation (of the SSS DC Microgrid) paraffin costs (main source of energy) amounted to R119.00 per week for approximately two litres per day at R8,50 per litre. The dominant use of paraffin for both cooking and lighting was posing a hazard or risk in the family environment. Open flame in the house for long periods of time pose a significant fire risk especially to one of the children, a curious toddler living in the house”.
  4. 4. “With the installation of the DC Microgrid System the family now have more time to spend together as a family and the children can play with friends during the day and complete their homework at night. A decrease in the amount of paraffin being used has also had an impact on the routine of the parents in the house. They can now buy a week’s worth of paraffin in one visit to the shop. In the past the amount of money needed required multiple trips to the shop to buy a full weeks’ paraffin in advance.”
  5. 5. “This significant change in routine has improved the children’s performance at school and Isaac has also been able to advance his skill set (acquiring a driver’s license). The cost of household energy has been substantially reduced from R119.00 to R42.50, providing a 36 percent increase in disposable income for the family.”
  6. 6. “The environmental hazards (fire risk) in the house have decreased. Paraffin is no longer used for lighting, reducing the risk of open flames and the use of paraffin lamps in the house. The risk of accidentally knocking over a lamp has been eliminated providing a far safer environment for all the children. The availability of lighting has improved the safety around the house too, especially the outside light”
  7. 7. Note: The DC Microgrid System installed in Thembalethu was an early model from mid-2011. It has been working without problems for nearly 2 years. In the second half of 2012, Mr Xlakwe bought a TV from SSS, with a larger PV Panel and battery.
  8. 8. ENKANINI, STELLENBOSCH 2012 MPhil Paper by A Keller, Stellenbosch University
  9. 9. Note: The project was initiated by the Sustainability Institute with the aim of improving living conditions in informal settlements while households await RDP housing. The ‘i-shack’ (improved shack) examines ways of retrofitting shacks to improve insulation and natural climate control, and uses SSS DC Microgrid systems, installed in 2011, to provide solar power.
  10. 10. “Plaatjie, the iShack beneficiary reported the following… “Before [I got] the solar [system] I had to go and visit my friend in Zone O [about 600m distance] where she had electricity to charge my old cellphone. I needed to wait for 4 hours. It was difficult because I get phone calls about work and I [used to] miss them so people stop[ped] calling me. Now I am available all the time and it is helping me to make more money.”
  11. 11. “Paraffin is bad and getting more and more expensive. Also candles are not good because they are dangerous and I always have to watch my kids. The solar lights are better.”
  12. 12. “Now we don’t need to go to sleep early anymore because now we have lights. My daughter must do her homework now, she doesn’t have any more excuses. And I like the light outside because we can see what is going on, I feel safer”.
  13. 13. MFUNDISO MBANA, SIZAMILE, SEDGEFIELD, KNYSNA SSS Demonstration Unit installed November 2011
  14. 14. At a meeting on 7 November 2011 between representatives of SSS and the local branch of SANCO, it was agreed that SSS would attend a SANCO community meeting in Smutsville and demonstrate one of its systems, and, further, that a demonstration system would be installed in an informal dwelling in Sizamile to show people how well it works.
  15. 15. The system, a ‘DC Microgrid’ designed and assembled in George, was installed in the dwelling of Mfundiso ‘Goodman’ Mbana on 16 November 2011, and has been providing him with safe low voltage power ever since. The systems has two interior lights (with switches), an outside motion sensor floodlight, a 40cm colour TV and an amplified aerial, as well as a DVD player. The system has run without problems, except that during February 2012 the lights fused during a heavy storm. They were repaired and replaced within the week.
  16. 16. The success of Mr Mbana’s system led to funding for other installations in Smutsville-Sizamile, with some residents upgrading their systems to include TV, DSTV decoder and fridge-freezer, all running off solar power.
  17. 17. BLOUBERG COMMUNITY, LIMPOPO PROVINCE Installation in 2012 in conjunction with Solar Vision
  18. 18. Solar Vision is an existing concessionaire to Department of Energy in the Limpopo Province. Specialized Solar Systems were approached by Solar Vision to assist in improving their Solar Home Systems by increasing the variety of appliances and the time they could be used per day.
  19. 19. The Blouwberg community is so remote and inaccessible that the components had to be airlifted in by helicopter.
  20. 20. Bringing power to the remote village has shown that solar power can be provided where grid electricity cannot reach.
  21. 21. A SPECIALIZED SOLAR SYSTEMS PRESENTATION. Presented by Ed Hill For further enquiries please contact us: Tel: +27(0)44 878 1126 Web: Email: