My Nigerian Apartment’s Solar Generator (2023)

My Dad used to creak open my bedroom door in the middle of the night and mumble, “I can see your light is on from under the door, go to bed.”A favourite, familiar memory. I loved reading, and staying up late with a torchlight in the otherwise dark and quiet house was a treat. With sounds magnified in the dead of the night, I could hear when anyone woke and left their room, so that I might quickly turn off the torchlight and pretend to be asleep. But sometimes I’d become too engrossed in what I was reading, and my dad caught the hint of light coming from under the door.

Power cuts and outages have been the norm in Nigeria all my life. As I was growing up, having power during the day was not expected; when it came on, shouts of ‘Up NEPA!’ echoed through the streets. And so we had to seek an alternative in noisy petrol-fueled generators, the size of which varied. Almost every house had one; having a generator was a thing to brag about, the bigger the better. So much so that these petrol engines were nicknamed ‘I better pass my neighbour’, the neighbour meaning those without.

It’s a kind of cultural touchstone: every Nigerian child who grew up middle class knows that the time for turning on the generator is 7 pm. It is known. Also known: the generator was to be switched off by 10 pm, after the NTA network news, or possibly 11 pm if your Dad falls asleep and doesn’t harangue you to put it off. The streets, pulsating with the noise made by dozens of generators, gradually went silent as the night fell, and after that I had no choice but to resort to my trusty torchlight to read.

“You can read it in the morning, do you want to damage your eyes?” my father would demand.

(Video) Installation of @Eden Power Solar Generator at Onike Yaba Lagos

The damage, perhaps, had been done already. I’ve always needed glasses. Doctors say it’s hereditary—my father, mother and now younger sister all use glasses—but my father is still convinced that reading in dim light is the reason for my defective vision.

My Nigerian Apartment’s Solar Generator (1)photo courtesy of the author

Nigeria has twenty-eight power plants—a combination of hydroelectric and fossil fuel power plants—for generating electricity. However, the combined capacity of these plants has dropped by 70% in the last year. About 43% of the population is not connected to the national power grid, but those who are connected must contend with incessant collapses—there’ve been at least six this year alone. The chaotic supply is leaving people at the mercy of these fossil-fuel-powered generators, more than ever before.

With Nigeria’s inflation at 19%, the highest in 17 years, coupled with an unstable and constantly devaluing currency and rising fuel prices, petrol generators are unsustainable. Again, alternatives are sought, and leading these is solar energy, a solution that is increasingly being adopted by households, small businesses and even institutions in Nigeria. Smoke-free and quiet, solar is finding increasing acceptance despite certain drawbacks.

“I’ve always hated the noise of generators, but I didn’t have much choice,” says Latifa Azeez, a hairdresser with a shop on a narrow street in Ilorin. “Sometimes the breeze blew the fumes towards the shop. That, particularly, was an inconvenience to me and my customers.”

(Video) Cheapest Off Grid 3 bed room flat Solar System In Nigeria

Latifah got a 0.5kva solar inverter installed in her shop last December, which cost her ₦57000 ($135.42). The cost was high, but during a period of fuel scarcity in December, she decided to shell out the money. It turned out to be a good decision.

“Over weekends and during celebrations like Christmas, Eid and Easter, I have many customers, and have to stay late at night. I got the solar [unit] instead of having to pay every day for petrol, especially now that the price has increased and we had to queue at the filling station sometimes to buy it.”

Not having to pay maintenance and repair costs, as in the case of her old generator, is another solid advantage. She hasn’t had any problems with the solar inverter since it was installed. “As long as the sun is up there, my bulbs and fan will be on.”

Even though the solar unit in her shop can’t power certain appliances, like her dryer and curling iron, it’s enough for Latifah’s illumination needs at night. She got a DC fan for her customers in the daytime’s sweltering heat.

My Nigerian Apartment’s Solar Generator (2)photo courtesy of the author
(Video) Using the Eden Power 296Wh Solar Generator to Power an Apartment

Though it’s one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions in Africa, Nigeria does not contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental awareness is low here, despite the country’s vulnerability to climate change. The principal motive for the growing demand for solar units is a practical one—reliable access to energy. The paucity of solar technicians and the high cost mean that uptake is slow. But Nigeria’s tropical climate, with an average of 5-7 hours of daily sunlight, makes solar alternatives viable here.

In August of last year, I decided to move to an off-campus apartment. My search took me to a building with a 5KVA solar unit installed; it was my first time seeing a large-scale solar unit. It solidified my interest in the building, and I ended up moving in. I’d already been aware of the small solar units marketed by MTN and Lumos partnership, which a lot of students use, though they cost a ton at ₦240,000 ($570.21). The company offers a monthly payment plan of about ₦6000 ($14.26), and I had resolved to buy one when I decided to leave the on-campus residence and its strictly regimented, diesel-fueled power supply. However, this building with its installed unit fell into my lap. This was unheard of, so much so that the building was named ‘Ile Solar’ in the neighbourhood.

The landlord only rented the place out to college students, and did (and still does) everything possible to make it a comfortable place to live, with overhead fans (uncommon in apartments like this), a reading room, and a large generator to power a water pump from the two wells. It was here that I unlearned the anxiety of expecting power to go off in the middle of a task. With the irregular hours I keep as a medical student and a writer, it was a dream come true to have near-constant electricity.

However, like many other places globally, Nigeria is increasingly faced with the complications of climate change: encroaching deserts in the North, and rising sea levels and increased flooding in the South. With the incessant rains and thunderstorms recently, solar panels are being affected by lightning. The solar panels are mounted on the rooftop and connected to the inverter and batteries, an easy target. The inverter in my house was blasted recently, and there we were, plunged into darkness. Although the houseowner paid for it to be fixed, at a significant cost to himself, we had to wait for the thunderstorms to die down before the inverter could be repaired, and our building was dark for about three months. During that time, I got a personal unit installed in my apartment.

(Video) Questions & Answers On Solar Power Generator For Home | Lumos Solar System| Solar Power System

The government appears to be recognizing that individuals should be encouraged to generate their own power. Last month, the Senate passed a bill allowing states and private individuals to generate electricity for themselves, although it will still require an executive order for implementation. With its potential to attract more investors in the power sector, it’s to be hoped that this legislation will help improve access to power for many Nigerians.

The last time I had to go to my parents’ for a visit, I sent a message on the family group page asking how the power situation was. The response came from my sister, “Oh, it’s been good for the past few days”. When I got home, I realized this meant that the power comes on for about four hours in a day, and most times even this was overnight. As someone who lives with almost-regular electricity now, it was a real struggle trying to adapt back.

I’m planning a weekend trip home soon, and this is my biggest worry.

FAQs

Which direction should solar panels face in Nigeria? ›

However there is a difference between magnetic south and true south that must be considered. Magnetic south is the "south" shown when a compass is used, and this south points to the Earth's south magnetic pole. Solar panels, however, need to face solar or geographic south, which is the direction towards the South Pole.

Can a solar generator run continuously? ›

Most portable solar generators capture enough energy to power a fridge continuously (or as long as the sunshine holds out), but not much else at the same time. Expect to use your portable solar generator for only the most basic needs, and only some of the time.

How long do solar generators work? ›

Solar generators typically last 55,000 hours. Since they usually last for 25 years, you may enjoy their benefits for around 6 hours per day. The average life span of gas generators is about 2,500 hours.

How many solar panels are needed to power a house in Nigeria? ›

The average home uses 200 kW per month, or around 2,500 kW per year, in electricity. The average size home with a decent amount of sunshine could install a 100kW to 200kW solar panel system to help reduce your electricity bill.

What time of day do solar panels work best? ›

As the afternoon progresses into the evening, the intensity of light will diminish and when the sun goes down solar power generation will be nill. So, generally speaking, the best time of day for solar panels will be between 11am and 4pm.

How long does a solar panel last in Nigeria? ›

A good properly installed solar can last for about 25 – 30 years. If the total cost of generator fuel or grid meter units is summed up for 25 – 30 years (life span of solar), it would be apparent that solar energy is more economical than the generators and grid electricity we use regularly.

What happens if I generate too much solar power? ›

If you produce more solar power than you use (as will be the case for many customers during daytime hours, especially in summer) then your system will feed power out to the grid.

How many hours can a generator run in a day? ›

Most gas-powered generators are going to stay running for anywhere from a few hours to up to 24 hours. However, some portable gas-powered generators have a large fuel tank. These generators are good enough to last for a few days.

How long do solar generator batteries last? ›

Home solar battery units last anywhere between 5 and 15 years. If you decide to install a solar battery today, it's almost certain you'll need a replacement in the future to match the 20- to 30-year lifespan of your solar power system.

How long can a solar generator run a fridge? ›

“Refrigerator (400-800W) 12-24 hours

#1: Your fridge is still using power during the day, so if you have a 100 watt solar panel, it will put out about 500 watt-hours during the day (which is about as much as you used during the day).

Can you use a solar generator at night? ›

What is this? Solar generators obtain their energy from the sun and provide people with sustainable solutions for their electrical needs. If you're wondering whether or not these units can still be used to power devices at night, then yes, they still do.

Do solar generators work at night? ›

Solar panels do not produce energy at night. The photovoltaic cells in solar panels must have sunlight to create electricity.

How much does 1 solar panel generate a day? ›

Electricity output is measured in kWh (kilowatt hours), with most panels on the market today rated to produce between around 250 to 400 watts per day. Put together, the typical capacity of a household solar system is between 1kWh and 4kWh.

How many solar panels do I need for a 1 bedroom flat? ›

The average one-bedroom house needs six solar panels, a typical three-bedroom house requires 10 panels, and a five-bedroom house will usually need 14 panels. Want to see how much this would cost you?

Do solar panels work in rain? ›

Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds. Rain actually helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt.

How do I know if my solar is working properly? ›

Read Your Solar Meter

Typically, your meter will cycle through different screens. You should pay particular attention to the one that displays the total kilowatt-hours that your solar panels are generating. As long as your kilowatt-hours are increasing, your solar panels should be working fine.

How long does a solar battery last at night? ›

How long can a solar battery power a house? Without running AC or electric heat, a 10 kWh battery alone can power the basic operations of a house for at least 24 hours, and longer with careful budgeting.

What happens after 20 years of solar panels? ›

The median solar panel degradation rate is about 0.5%, which simply means that a solar panel's energy production will decrease at a rate of 0.5% per year. After 20 years, your panels should still be working at about 90% of its original output.

How much is solar in Nigerian? ›

Installing solar in Nigerian can cost from ₦100,000 to ₦15,000,000 for a solar home system for homes and offices depending on the capacity you want to install in your home or office space.

How much is a big solar panel in Nigeria? ›

150Watt solar panel prices – 30,000 Naira to 35,000 Naira. 200Watt solar panel prices – 34,000 Naira to 45,000 Naira. 300Watt solar panel prices – 50,000 Naira to 60,000 Naira. 320Watt solar panel prices – 60,000 Naira to 66,000 Naira.

Is there a limit to how much solar power you can generate? ›

The maximum amount of electricity the system can produce under ideal conditions (known as 'peak sun'). Sometimes called 'rated capacity' or 'rated output', this is taken to be 1,000 watts (or 1 kW) of sunlight for every square metre of panel. Most domestic solar panel systems have a capacity of between 1 kW and 4 kW.

Can too much sun damage solar panels? ›

Solar panels absorb photons to energize electrons, causing them to flow and create electricity. But when a panel heats up too much, its electrons are already in an excited state once sunlight is absorbed, reducing efficiency and the voltage it can generate.

What are 2 disadvantages of using solar power right now? ›

Solar Cons
  • Standard home solar does not “work” at night.
  • Home solar panels are not attractive.
  • DIY solar installation is difficult (if not impossible) for most homeowners.
  • Not every roof configuration is ideal for maximum solar power generation.
  • Solar manufacturing is not good for the environment.

Can I run my generator all night? ›

Carbon Monoxide Hazard

The most serious risk of running a generator all night is carbon monoxide poisoning. Because of its nature, a portable generator emits carbon monoxide when its engine is turned on.

How long can you run a generator without stopping? ›

Typically, it's recommended that you limit continuous usage when able and give the unit rest and a cool down. You can run the generator for a week if necessary, but if you can shut it down daily, allow it to cool and check the oil it is the recommended practice.

How long can a generator run without rest? ›

Gasoline-powered portable generators can run for about 6 to 16 hours at a time. Well-managed propane portable generators can run for about 150 to 200 hours at a time (about up to 8 days).

Why my solar battery is draining fast? ›

It may be that charging and discharging the batteries too quickly is a sign of inadequate battery sizing, improper IMEON settings, or the end of battery life.

Can you overcharge a solar generator? ›

Higher charging voltage from the solar panels leads to higher Ah being delivered to the battery and ultimately leading to overcharging. The easiest way to control over charging of the batteries is to control the output voltage of the solar panel.

How can I make my solar battery last longer? ›

8 Tips for Extending Battery life for your Solar Power System
  1. Rotate your Batteries. If you have a large bank of batteries, rotate the batteries within the bank periodically. ...
  2. Use large battery interconnect cables. ...
  3. Properly charge your battery. ...
  4. Allow gassing or boiling. ...
  5. Battery Equalization.
12 Feb 2016

How many batteries do I need to run a refrigerator? ›

Minimum Power Needed for a Residential Fridge

The minimum power for running solely the residential fridge for 24 hours is six AGM batteries totaling 600 amp hours (300 ah usable). PLUS you need 600 watts of solar power on the roof to replenish the batteries during the daylight hours.

What size solar generator do I need to run a refrigerator and freezer? ›

1,000W generator for all mini-fridges and most of the eco-friendly Energy Star-rated refrigerators and freezers. 3,000W generator for all standard refrigerators and freezers. The 3,000W generator is the most common generator used to power a fridge.

How much solar do I need for a fridge? ›

How many solar panels do I need to run a refrigerator? The average refrigerator takes about three or four average solar panels to run. The average refrigerator found in the United States uses approximately 57 kWh per month while the average freezer uses 58 kWh.

Can I run a freezer on solar power? ›

If you have an on-grid solar system, and you have wondered “how much solar power I need to run a refrigerator”, you would be pleased to know that you can operate a freezer in a straightforward manner. You just need to contact a provider of solar panels and have them install the same at your home.

Do solar panels work without sun? ›

Solar panels require sunlight to generate electricity for your home, so they do not produce electricity during the dark hours. Thus, the simple answer to the question is no. The concept of solar power working at night centers around backup batteries.

What can you run on a solar generator? ›

A solar generator probably won't be able to power your entire home. However, it can charge phones and laptops, and keep small appliances running for a short period of time. Gas generators aren't as limited in what they can power and for how long, since they can be refilled at any time.

Does a solar generator make noise? ›

Solar generators do not have any moving parts. This makes them run at near silent noise levels. The last thing you want is to hear the incessant rattle of a generator in the background while trying to work or relax. Solar generators do not burn fuel to generate energy.

Can solar energy produce electricity 24 hours a day? ›

In a breakthrough promising 24-hour reliable renewable energy, scientists have tested panels that keep producing power even when the sun goes down. Conventional solar panels only work in daylight, so you need expensive battery storage to enable solar-produced power to be used at night.

How many hours a day do solar panels work? ›

So, even though the average day is exactly 12 hours, the power you actually get on your panels is equal to about 5 to 6 hours of full sun per day. Since the typical modern solar panel is about 12% efficient, you will get about 700 watts per square meter of panel.

How many kW does it take to run a house? ›

Average Home Energy Consumption. According to data from 2020, the average amount of electricity an American home uses is ​​10,715 kilowatt-hours (kWh). If you divide this number by 12 (months in a year), the average residential utilities customer uses 893 kWh per month.

How many solar panels does it take to produce 1000 watts? ›

How many solar panels do I need for 1000 Watts? Most 1000 watt solar panel systems consist of 5 solar panels, each of which is 200 watts, or 10 solar panels, each being 100 watts. Simple math will tell you that adding together the wattage of panels in each system will achieve 1000 watts, or 1 kilowatt.

How much power does a solar panel make in a month? ›

To sum it up, an average 400W solar panel getting 4.5 peak sun hours per day can produce around 1.8 kWh of electricity per day and 54 kWh of electricity per month.

What is the most powerful type of solar panel? ›

Monocrystalline panels have the highest output and power capacity, thanks to their higher efficiency per square foot. Expect a standard 60-cell solar panel to produce 310W – 350W on average. Surprisingly, polycrystalline panels aren't that far behind.

Is 1 kW enough to run a house? ›

A smaller house in a temperate region would consume around 210-kilowatt hours (kWh) per month. Whereas a larger house where air conditioners require the most energy might use 2,000 kWh or more. The typical home uses 900 kWh per month. That works out at 1.25 kWh every hour or 30 kWh per day.

How do I calculate how much solar power I need? ›

How much solar power will you need? To determine your home's average energy requirements, look at past utility bills. You can calculate how many solar panels you need by multiplying your household's hourly energy requirement by the peak sunlight hours for your area and dividing that by a panel's wattage.

Can a small house run on solar power alone? ›

Can a house run on solar power alone? It is possible to run a house on solar power alone. However, going completely off-grid requires a considerable financial and time investment. The higher your energy requirements, the more solar panels you'll need.

What is the best direction for a solar panel to face? ›

Best solar panel direction overall. South is the best direction for solar panels to face overall. In nearly all cases, homeowners will achieve the highest electric bill savings and a quickest payback period by facing their solar panels south over any other direction.

What side of house should solar panels face? ›

South-facing solar panels produce the most energy in the northern hemisphere (if you're in the southern hemisphere, please reverse everything), so if the opportunity is there, go for it! If a south-facing orientation is not possible, there is no need to give up on your solar goals.

What is the optimum tilt angle for solar panels in Nigeria? ›

Some of the key results reveal that optimum tilt angle changes between 0° and 42° throughout the year in Nigeria. The optimum value is found to be 0° during the raining seasons (i.e., April–August) in all locations.

Which direction should solar panels ideally face when installed? ›

This means that the sun is above the equator and therefore your solar panels will be most effective if they are south facing. Panels facing south will face the sun all day long. This gives them the maximum possible time to collect sunlight and convert it into energy.

Do solar panels work at night? ›

The short answer is: no, solar energy systems only operate during the day.

How do you increase the current of a solar panel? ›

Connecting PV panels together in parallel increases current and therefore power output, as electrical power in watts equals “volts times amperes” (P = V x I). Photovoltaic cells produce their power output at about 0.5 to 0.6 volts DC, with current being directly proportional to the cell's area and irradiance.

How many solar panels would it take to power a house? ›

Key takeaways

The average home in the U.S needs between 16 and 20 solar panels to cover its electric bills. Three main factors impact how many solar panels you need: your energy usage, the sunlight in your area, and the solar panels you choose.

How long do solar panels last? ›

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic or PV panels, are made to last more than 25 years. In fact, many solar panels installed as early as the 1980s are still working at expected capacity. Not only are solar panels remarkably reliable, solar panel longevity has increased dramatically over the last 20 years.

What's the best angle for solar panels? ›

For most homeowners, the ideal angle for a solar panel installation is close to or equal to the latitude of your home. This angle is typically between 30 degrees and 45 degrees. Doing so ensures your home will get the maximum average output from your solar power system throughout the year.

Do solar panels need direct sunlight? ›

Solar panels work best in direct sunlight, but they can also work on cloudy days and in partial shade. This is because photovoltaic (PV) panels use particles of light, called photons, to generate electricity. Photons are present in direct and indirect sunlight, so solar panels can operate in both conditions.

How much does angle affect solar panels? ›

In this case, for the solar panels to get their best performance, a steep angle of 60° is best. During the spring the best angle is 45°, and during the summer when the sun is high in the sky, it's best to have a low tilt at 20°!

When should I change the angle of my solar panels? ›

As a rule of thumb, solar panels should be more vertical during winter to gain most of the low winter sun, and more tilted during summer to maximize the output. Here are two simple methods for calculating approximate solar panel angle according to your latitude.

Is it better to have east or west facing solar panels? ›

For a solar panel to generate the most power, it should ideally be facing true south. Roofs that face south-west and south-east are also considered highly efficient, while properties with an east or west facing roof will lose approximately 15% efficiency compared to a south facing roof.

Does it matter if solar panels are vertical or horizontal? ›

The orientation of your solar panels doesn't affect the production of your system. In the US, panels are generally installed vertically by default unless you have a flat roof which better allows for horizontal panels since they won't protrude as much.

Can solar panels go on a flat roof? ›

Solar panels can work very well on a flat roof. Whilst flat roof solar systems are more commonly found on commercial buildings, they can certainly be fitted to domestic properties.

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