As India progresses and its population becomes, richer its electricity consumption is bound to increase. People in the middle class can witness this change over the last two decades. An average Indian household with four tube lights, four ceiling fans, a television, a small refrigerator (165 liters), and small kitchen appliances uses 90 units of electricity per month.
But as the air conditioning needs, Smart devices, and the size of refrigerators increase demand, it is set to shoot up. While the gadgets in a household are ever-increasing so, is the cost of electricity or power. So what can a consumer do? It is where rooftop solar power systems come in.
There was a time when a 1 kilowatt or 2-kilowatt system was enough for a family’s need. But today, Urban areas are always better to have a 5 kW solar system.
But the question, who exactly can afford it? What are the merits and demerits of rooftop solar systems? And what is the return on investment? So let’s begin a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats) analysis.


The Deal
If you live in an area, that will receive abundant sunlight for most parts of the year (around 300 days per year) that becomes the first and a major plus point for you to install a rooftop solar plant. The second consideration is, do you have a house of your own? And does the rooftop belong to you? If yes, then what’s the size of the rooftop. If the size of the rooftop is 350sq feet, then you are good to go. An average 5kW solar rooftop system will need 15 Solar panels and, that would require a flat area.
A 5 kW solar rooftop system comes in three variants – off-grid solar rooftop, on-grid or grip connected, and hybrid. Off-grid and hybrid systems require 8battery packs to offer you an uninterrupted power supply. It increases their cost. On average, the installation cost of 5kW of off-grid solar system needs Rs. 4 lakh, hybrid cost Rs 4.5 while on-grid can install in Rs two lakhs.
The plant includes solar panels, wires, batteries, inverters, etc. The hybrid model is connected with the grid to requires all the things mentioned before but, it differs from off-grid when it comes to the convertor as it needs a 5KVA inverter. The cheapest among the three is an on-grid solar rooftop plant. As it doesn’t require battery backup, the cost comes down to half.

On-Grid Solar Power Plant


Perks of the New Power
The good thing about solar rooftop systems is that they offer you an alternate source of energy as well as income. Every government, central and state government gives subsidies for installing solar panels provided your contractor has procured them from an Indian manufacturer. It ranges to 30 percent of the cost till 3kW installation and comes down to Rs 20,000 per kilowatt if it’s between 4 to 10 kilowatts. So a 5kW rooftop installation can offer you a subsidy of Rs one lakh. Most installation companies offer a 5-year warranty for the entire system and a 25-year warranty for solar panels.
Now comes the return on investment. So a typical 5-kilowatt rooftop installation generates 600 units of electricity per month. Off-grid and hybrid systems can plug in your energy consumption for 6 to 14 hours and, it will depend upon your use of the electricity. Suppose you have an AC that runs for eight hours a day, then solar energy can plug the gap for six hours.
Now let’s calculate the savings. On average, an AC uses one unit of electricity per hour. A 10-hour daily run will lead to 300 units every month. So the solar power will help you make substantial savings on your electricity bills. Experts say that it takes three and a half to four years to recover the cost of installation. Then the rest of the next 21 years life-cycle of the system, you tend to earn through your savings.
The hybrid and on-grid also offer you a chance to sell your excess electricity to the grid and earn some money. At the end of the month, your consumption was less than your contribution to the grid.


Obstacles
But the catch is those who live in urban areas where the electricity supply is stable should go for it as the system will shut down the moment the light goes. Even if you have a solar panel mounted on your roof.
So it’s not advisable for people who live in rural areas with erratic power supplies. In urban areas, those who live in high-rise residential complexes can’t have their own rooftop solar system. But yes, they can get together and hire a consultant for their entire housing society or apartment block. The person can calculate the wall surface as well as the Common roof and Calculate what would be the cost of installation. But in high-rise buildings, the total size of the rooftop system will exceed the 5kW barrier.
The potential consumer needs to know the area falls into the geographical zone, which can receive enough solar light throughout the year. Technically, India receives year-round solar irradiation. But within the country like West Bengal and parts of the North East that have longer rainy seasons may find it hard to rely regularly on solar and, their return on investment will also take a longer time.
Third Every state has its policy towards on-grid electricity and electronic metering. It’s still in its infancy, and there are teething troubles. So, an on-grid system is not advisable. The Systems of calculating to and for power from on-grid systems are complex and prone to different interpretations. Every state has its formula.
So hybrid or off-grid system in areas like Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Vidarbha region in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh will be a better choice.
The subsidy on offer needs to be understood well in advance before applying for a rooftop system. It needs verifications and can take a longer time than expected.
However nascent as it may seem, solar power is a concept that’s time has come. Sure there are teething troubles that exist today. It’s a sector that’s constantly evolving and, the technology is changing. But finally, when those who have installed the system will look back, they’ll realize they were the pioneers who not only contributed to the cause of offsetting climate change but also helped saving thousands for themselves.

Source: Keshav Chaturvedi