Solar Systems

How solar works

Sunlight is captured by photovoltaic (PV) cells in solar panels, transforming it into direct current (DC) electricity. This DC power is then directed to an inverter, converting it into the alternating current (AC) electricity commonly used in homes and businesses to power electrical appliances and lighting. The converted AC electricity seamlessly integrates into the property’s electrical system through the main distribution board (DB), offering immediate power supply. Any surplus electricity can be returned to the grid (if permitted) or stored in batteries for later use, ensuring a reliable power source during night-time or overcast days.

Harnessing the power of the sun today for a brighter tomorrow.

Types of Solar Systems

What is a Hybrid Solar System

Graphic illustration of how a hybrid solar system works, which includes the electricity grid, solar generation panels, battery storage and household electric consumption.

A hybrid solar system consists of solar panels, an inverter and batteries for energy storage. The system is connected to the utility grid and effectively uses the grid as a backup for when the energy demands exceed the available energy from the solar-powered system, thus reducing the storage capacity needed. Where allowed, excess electricity can be fed back to the grid. Hybrid systems can function independently from the grid.

Given our country’s abundance of sun, especially in the inland regions, it is only necessary to store enough energy to last from sunset to sunrise, to allow for typical load shedding periods and to protect the batteries. The correct-sized hybrid system can result in significant savings on your electricity bill and create virtual independence from the grid. As battery storage constitutes the most substantial cost in a solar installation, staying connected to the grid is recommended to allow for extended inclement weather conditions.

Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Solar System

Benefits of a hybrid solar system:

  • Reduced electricity costs.
  • Energy independence.
  • Optimised energy usage of available sources.
  • Environmental sustainability.
  • Staying connected to the grid as a backup.

Possible disadvantages of a hybrid solar system:

  • Staying connected to the grid in remote areas, like farms and small holdings, may involve a substantial connection fee.

What is an Off-grid Solar System

Graphic illustration of how an off-grid solar system works, which includes solar generation panels, battery storage and household electric consumption.

An off-grid solar system is an independent, standalone power generation setup that operates without being connected to the electrical grid. Except for not being connected to the grid, this system is similar to the hybrid solar system and consists of solar panels, an inverter and batteries for power storage. 

Off-grid solar systems are designed to function autonomously and provide electricity in areas with limited or unavailable grid access.

An off-grid system needs to cater not only to your energy needs during nighttime but also to extended overcast weather when solar power generation is not at its peak. Allowing for excess storage can make this an expensive system, but you will have no electricity bill.

In some cases, an off-grid solar system may include a backup generator, which can supplement the energy demand and recharge the battery bank when solar energy is insufficient.

Pros and Cons of an Off-grid Solar System

Benefits of an off-grid solar system:

  • Independent of grid power.
  • No electricity bill.

Possible disadvantages of an off-grid solar system:

  • Need to make provision for sufficient battery storage to cater for prolonged inclement weather conditions.
  • Might need a generator for backup power supply.

What is a Grid-tied Solar System

Graphic illustration of how a grid-tied solar system works, which includes the electricity grid, solar generation panels and household electric consumption.

A grid-tied solar system is a solar setup that works in conjunction with traditional utility-supplied electricity. The system consists of solar panels and an inverter. It ties in directly to the grid, allowing for a bidirectional flow of electricity. Excess solar power generated beyond the consumption of the connected load can be fed back into the utility grid if permitted. A pure grid-tied system is ideal when most of your energy needs are during the daytime. However, it does not work when grid power is unavailable, making it less suitable in areas with frequent power interruptions.

A grid-tied solar system can result in a significant saving on your electricity bill but does not allow for the inconvenience of frequent power failures or load shedding.

Pros and Cons of a Grid-tied Solar System

Benefits of a grid-tied solar system:

  • Significant cost savings on electricity used during sunshine hours.
  • It is significantly less expensive than a hybrid solar system due to the lack of battery storage.

Possible disadvantages of a grid-tied solar system:

  • Inconvenience of no electricity during power outages.
  • No electricity saving on electricity used at night.

What is a Backup System

Graphic illustration of a how backup power system works, which includes the electricity grid, battery storage and household electric consumption.

A backup system consists of an inverter, batteries and grid connection components. It is designed to provide power to your home or business during short-term electricity disruptions, such as power failures or load shedding. Should the system be integrated into the property’s main distribution board (DB), it will seamlessly take over when grid power is unavailable. The backup supply’s duration depends on the batteries’ storage capacity. When grid power returns, the batteries will be recharged and ready for future power outages.

Installing a backup system enables you to minimise the impact of load shedding, ensuring uninterrupted power for all your electronic devices. You will no longer need to endure hours of darkness or rely on noisy generators.

Utilising a backup system does not result in savings on your electricity bill, as grid power is used to store electricity in the batteries. Nevertheless, it serves as a cost-effective solution for those prioritising convenience over potential electricity savings.

Should the available roof space for solar panels be limited or unavailable, such as in townhouses and apartment buildings, a backup system is also a convenient solution to ensure an uninterrupted power supply.

All backup systems installed by CCSO Solar are integrated into the main DB and are solar-ready for future expansion.

Pros and Cons of a Backup System

Benefits of a backup system:

  • Convenience of minimal disruption during power outages.
  • Can be used where there is no, or limited roof space available.

Possible disadvantages of a backup system:

  • No savings on your electricity cost.
  • Might run out of battery power during extended power outages.

Empower your home with the brilliance of solar energy.

What type of solar system will work best for me?

Determining the best type of solar system for you depends on various factors, including your energy needs, location, budget, and preferences. Here are three common types of solar systems, along with considerations for each:

Why Choose a Hybrid Solar System?

Best For

Those who want a balance between grid-connected and off-grid features.

How it works

Combines solar panels with battery storage and a connection to the grid. Can use grid power, solar power, and stored energy as needed. Optimise usage between different energy sources.


Flexibility, can provide backup power during outages, potential for lower electricity bills.


Higher upfront costs than grid-tied systems, maintenance of batteries required.

Why Choose an Off-grid Solar System?

Best For

Remote areas without access to the grid or for those seeking complete energy independence.

How it works

Generates solar power and stores excess energy in batteries for use when the sun isn’t shining.


Independence from the grid, suitable for locations with unreliable power supply.


Higher upfront costs due to battery storage, may need a backup generator.

Why Choose a Grid-tied Solar System?

Best For

Those with access to a reliable electrical grid.

How it works

Generates solar power and can feed excess electricity back into the grid if allowed.


Potentially lower upfront costs, can benefit from net metering (credits for excess energy sent to the grid).


No battery storage is included; thus, no power during grid outages, may be subject to grid connection fees. Requires a bi-directional meter.

Why Choose a Backup System?

Best For

Those primarily interested in having a reliable backup power source without solar generation.

How it works

Relies on a backup power source (generator, battery backup) to provide electricity during outages.


Dedicated backup power.


No solar energy benefits.

Transform your roof into a source of limitless energy

FAQ's about Solar Systems

What is the grid?

The electricity grid refers to the nationally supplied electricity by Eskom through municipalities in South Africa.

Can I go completely off-grid?

With a solar system that is sized correctly, you can rely entirely on the sun for power, but it is recommended to remain connected to the grid in case of prolonged inclement weather conditions.

Should you choose to disconnect from the grid, provision should be made for additional battery storage or a backup generator.

Can I connect a generator to the solar system?

Although the hybrid inverters used in our installations can accommodate generator input to power the system, the unstable voltage and frequency control of non-AVR- and non-inverter-type generators can result in the inverter not accepting the generator input.

Can I start small and expand later?

Starting off with a solar-ready backup system is an option, allowing for later expansion by incorporating solar panels. However, selecting the right inverter type and size is crucial for future scalability. Expanding battery capacity is relatively straightforward while increasing the number of solar panels is limited by the maximum allowable inverter input and entails additional labour costs. When expanding on an existing string, the exact same solar panels must be installed. 

How do I know what size solar/backup system I need?

CCSO Solar will carefully assess your current electrical consumption profile to determine the most suitable solution. If an installation is over-designed, you will struggle to get a proper return on your investment, but if under-designed, your system might not live up to your expectations and cause frustration.

Which inverter size would be most suitable for my needs?

The capacity of the inverter dictates the maximum instantaneous electricity consumption. A 5kW inverter can typically accommodate using a kettle and a hairdryer simultaneously but switching on the microwave might trigger an overload. In contrast, an 8kW inverter allows for more simultaneous appliance usage, offering greater flexibility.

How much battery storage do I need?

For a hybrid solar system, the ideal battery storage capacity is around half of the daily solar generation to make provision for power usage from dawn to dusk (depending on your usage profile). It is also recommended to have a battery storage capacity double the size of the inverter for enhanced efficiency and performance.

How to choose a trustworthy solar installer?
  • Beware of fly-by-nights. No one becomes a solar expert in a few months – seek evidence for how long the company has been installing solar.
  • Investigate the installer’s reviews on Google and Hello Peter to identify any potential concerns or complaints about the installer.
  • Ensure that a registered electrician will issue a Certificate of Compliance for the solar installation.
  • It is recommended to use a PV GreenCard Certified Installer. This is a pre-requisite of most insurance companies and financed installations. Verification can be done on the following website: PV GreenCard Certified Installers.
  • Work with qualified, trustworthy professionals and get it right the first time.
What is a kilowatt-hour (kWh)?

A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit of energy. It is the amount of energy used to keep a 1000W appliance running for an hour. For example, a 100W light bulb will use 1kWh in 10 hours. A 1000W appliance will use 1kWh in an hour.

How long will a 5kWh battery supply energy during the night?

A 1000W appliance can run for approximately 5 hours with power supplied by a 5kW battery.

What is a charge controller?

MPPT, or Maximum Power Point Tracking, is a technology used in inverters to optimize the power output from solar panels. It works by continuously adjusting the electrical operating point of the solar panels to ensure they are operating at their maximum power output, regardless of the temperature or level of sunlight. This is achieved by constantly monitoring the voltage and current of the solar panels and adjusting the electrical operating point to maximize the power output. By doing so, MPPT helps to maximize the efficiency of the solar panels and increase the overall energy production of the solar power system.

How does a solar system work?

Refer to How solar works above.

What is a hybrid system?

Refer to the Hybrid System diagram above.

What is an off-grid system?

Refer to the Off-grid System diagram above.

What is a grid-tie solar system?

Refer to the Grid-tie System diagram above.

What is a backup power system?

Refer to the Backup System diagram above.

Why be left in the dark when you can soak up the sun's energy?