Power management technology supplier PowerOptimal manufactures products that are specifically designed to provide more sustainable energy solutions in South Africa.
“One of PowerOptimal’s main product range is the Elon solar photovoltaic (PV) water heater, which allows for the direct connection of solar PV modules to a standard South African electric geyser,” PowerOptimal CEO Richard Fearon tells Engineering News.
Designed, developed and manufactured in South Africa, the Elon solar PV water heater complies with the energy efficiency requirements of SANS 10400-XA, which also form part of the national building regulations.
“These regulations require that at least 50% of the yearly water heating for all new residential and commercial property developments must be done using energy sources other than grid electricity,” Fearon adds.
Moreover, the applications of the Elon solar PV extend to homeowners being able to reduce their electricity bills and go off-grid with their water heating, while enabling those who have no access to grid electricity to have hot water.
Fearon states that, when compared with solar thermal water heaters and heat pumps, the Elon range has many “stand-out features and benefits”.
“There is no need for additional plumbing or a tank on the roof – unlike thermosiphon solar geysers – and there is no maintenance, pumps or noise. Moreover, the solar PV water heater is easy to install, is compatible with standard electric geysers and performs well in cold weather.”
Further, the PowerOptimal Elon produces energy from 20 V under load; it is upgradeable to 4 kW of solar PV, making it a true offgrid solar PV water heating solution; and is equipped with patented direct current switching technology, making it cost-competitive and durable.
The water heater system has been successfully installed and is operational in several property developments, ranging from retirement villages and mining housing to luxury life-style estates.
Meanwhile, Fearon notes that PowerOptimal might have to deal with the consequences of the national lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although the PowerOptimal Elon is manufactured in South Africa, many of the electronic components are imported from various countries, particularly China.
“We have a substantial amount of stock in process, enabling us to fulfil demand for several months. However, if the disruption continues for several months, component shortages might slow down manufacturing. Of course, market demand might also be more subdued post lockdown.”
However, despite this challenge, Fearon says PowerOptimal believes in the potential of solar PV to empower Africans by leapfrogging national energy grids.