Is Solar A Better Alternative To Gensets During Calamities?

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Bhubaneswar: Do you dread having to live without electricity and water again? Are you considering buying a diesel/petrol generator in order to avoid such a situation should another cyclone hit your city? Here’s an alternative that you could consider – Solar.

Anil Sahoo, an IT engineer living in Patia, had installed 500 watts of solar panels on his rooftop. “We were able to use fans, lights and watch TV every day after the cyclone. We didn’t have to bother about sourcing kerosene or petrol for generators. Everyone should invest in solar,” he said.

Solar panels placed on your roof charge batteries during the daytime and with the help of an inverter, one can use the electricity to run electrical appliances such as lights, fans, water pumps and even an air conditioner (if you install a big system).

The cost of going solar is higher than a diesel/petrol genset. But a solar system pays itself back in 6-8 years and the fuel is free, unlike in a genset. “Solar always saves,” explained Amit Nanda of Satattva, a solar energy consulting firm based in Sambalpur. “Generators require fuel and maintenance would be ever-increasing even if we don’t use them much. Just like vehicles,” he said.

Yes, solar panels are going to reduce your electricity bill every day. Also, you do not have to queue up at the petrol filling station or buy fuel in the black market.

Solar is safe to use and is completely automatic unlike generators, which require starting, noted Amit. Also, the panels are installed in such a way that cyclones do not affect them, but they can be easily deattached and kept inside if needed, he explained.

Cost Comparison

For 2 fans and a water pump or TV and a few lights, a 1KW panel with 2 batteries and an inverter are required. This costs around Rs 70,000.

Compared to that, a 1 KVA generator would cost around Rs 30,000. Running the generator would cost around Rs 30-50 per hour or roughly Rs 5,000-7,000 per week. Solar will cost zero and the 1KW solar panel will subtract 120 units (approx Rs 600) from your electricity bill every month.

A generator emits harmful gases while solar is completely green.

Generators are useful when the load is huge, for example, for total apartment buildings or factories, experts said. Solar power would require vast spaces and would be very expensive to implement.

Amit advises to use energy efficiently. “If our appliances are energy guzzlers like a low rated air conditioner or an old pump, or a very old fan, both solar and generators will prove expensive. If we use energy wisely, solar is a much better option compared to generators both cost-wise and operation and maintenance wise,” he said.