The Function of Silicon in Solar Systems

Without silicon solar just doesn’t happen – this is primarily because solar cells are made up of silicon that is 100% pure.  

Silicon has been an important component of electricity for aeons, with solar technology being created in the 1950s. At present almost all solar cells are made from pure silicon. 

What you should know about silicon and its role in solar 

  • Pure silicon is a rather poor conductor of electricity. This is because the material is a semi-conductor  
  • To circumvent this issue, the silicon in solar cells contains impurities to improve conductivity, with atoms deliberately combined with the silicon atoms to improve the function of capturing the sun’s energy, thus transforming it into electricity 
  • Electron-rich layers are created by placing arsenic atoms between silicon atoms ensuring that there is a surplus of electrons in solar cells 
  • When gallium atoms are used in silicon cells there will be too few electrons – therefore, in solar cells, the cells are placed alongside each other (the cells with gallium and the cells with arsenic) to form an electric field 
  • As sunlight hits solar cells, the field is energised thus generating electricity  

There are three main types of silicon solar cells 

Monocrystalline solar cells which are also referred to as singlecrystalline cells 

These are easily identifiable as they are black in colour and comprise pure silicon which results in an efficient conversion of sunlight into electricity 

Additionally, monocrystalline solar cells enjoy longevity and are spaceefficient 

Monocrystalline cells are the most expensive solar option 

Polycrystalline solar cells 

Polycrystalline solar cells are often referred to as multi-silicon cells 

Polycrystalline cells were the first solar cells introduced into the solar industry in the early 1980s 

These solar cells do not undergo the same intense process of cutting (as the monocrystalline cells do), thus making them a lot less expensive 

During the manufacturing process, the silicon is melted down and poured into square moulds 

The polycrystalline cells are far less efficient and require plenty of space  

Polycrystalline do not function as efficiently as monocrystalline cells 

Amorphous solar cells 

Amorphous silicon cells have no shape – they are neither crystallised nor structured in any way whatsoever 

Amorphous cells have been used for smaller applications such as solar clocks, torches and calculators as their power is extremely low in relation to other types of solar cells 

When numerous amorphous solar sells are stacked one on top of the other, they can perform surprisingly well 

Solar and silicon are like a horse and carriage – the one without the other simply cannot function properly. 


Deep Cycle Batteries & How They Work

Deep cycle batteries: what role do they play in solar systems? In today’s world of renewable energy deep cycle batteries are synonymous with solar. 

These batteries store energy, and this is where chemical reactions occur resulting in electricity. Deep cycle batteries are made to recharge and discharge numerous times, therefore, are not disposable, unlike singleuse batteries.  

Battery backup is connected to the photovoltaic solar panels – these need single batteries or groups of deep cycle batteries to store solar energy (energy from the sun). The group of deep cycle batteries is referred to as a battery bank. 

During sunlight hours deep cycle batteries are recharged so that there is stored energy when there is low sunlight, on cloudy days and during nighttime hours. This is the main reason why batteries are essential to solar power; they are vital for stand-alone as well as alternative energy tied to the grid, thus determining the DC power of a photovoltaic solar arrangement. 

Because deep cycle batteries can be charged and discharged, they are often referred to as being “secondary batteries”. Additionally, these batteries are called “secondary” because chemical reactions that produce and store electrical power on the lead plates are reversible (this is different to the way that standardised batteries operate that are disposable once the energy is depleted). 

A good example is a car that requires short bursts of energy; a deep cycle battery provides a continuous supply of power over a longer period. 

There are numerous deep cycle batteries such as gel batteries, lithium-ion batteries, flooded batteries and AGM batteries, although flood batteries are the most commonly used type. Gel batteries have a gel substance and the AGM batteries contain acid suspended in a glass mat separator. 

There has been an upsurge in the amount of lithium-ion batteries being installed in households that are opting for solar, although AGM and flood batteries are most often used for those wanting to go off the grid. 

These different types of deep cycle batteries are used in a variety of applications and are manufactured differently. 

Battery Backup Systems

Battery backup goes by numerous names – these are UPSUninterruptible Power Source, Standby UPS and On-line UPS 

When selecting your backup power systems, whether they are generators (either diesel or petrol), an Uninterruptible Power Supply, alternative power sources such as solar or wind power, or an inverter, backup battery and charger configuration which lasts longer than the average UPS system, each one has a positive and a negative component. Naturally individual needs will gauge what kind of battery backup systems you would need to invest in. 

Most of the world out there – commercial, industrial and domestic – is plugged directly into the AC power grid, which could prove to be problematic if you live and work in a DC environment where electricity is often unavailable. In a DC situation where most devices and electrical appliances use DC, inverters are used and generate power. 

A good example is ambulances and the military. Medical equipment can be used directly from the hospital if the ambulance has an adequate inverter, for example, which usually has 1 000 Watts capacity. Heart monitors and incubators for babies are other applications where inverters are required when not plugged into the grid. 

Inverters and battery backup systems have revolutionised how we live in a technologically advanced world. We are now able to enjoy mobile power systems that provide AC electricity that is clean and silent anywhere, anytime. The inverter changes the DC electricity that is stored in backup batteries into standard AC power. The best part of all is that you no longer need to rely on finding DC appliances that are powered by DC or generators that are noisy. 

You can enjoy the convenience of being powered in ambulances, out in the field, on a boat or anywhere else where power is required. Battery backup systems that power inverters are effectual and dependable devices that come in a plethora of sizes, offering a broad spectrum of power ranges to meet all power needs 

Whether you need backup systems to power your television and fridge or high powered hardwire units that provide electricity for large vehicles and boats – battery backup has you covered. 

GreenPeace Protests: Harmful Emissions

Greenpeace Africa staged a peaceful protest outside Eskom’s Megawatt headquarters on Tuesday the 20th August, complete with hospital beds and pretend “patients” in the beds highlighting the harmful effects pollution has on the health of individuals and the environment. 

Most worrying of all is that Kriel in Mpumalanga is the world’s secondlargest sulphur dioxide emission’s hotspot – second place only to Norilsk in Russia! 

It is common knowledge that the Mpumalanga area has a concentration of coal combustion with no fewer than 12 Eskom coalpowered stations, which is of great concern to the Government. The Government is reliant on coal but is in the process of scaling down on coal usage as more renewable energy is introduced.  

Of special note is that the South African Government still has concerns about the introduction of renewable energy as the struggling economy and high unemployment figures need to be taken into the equation; the retrenchment of workforces is of great concern as Eskom does not want to exacerbate the problem 

The Government, however, is still moving forward on renewable energy despite the above concerns, by introducing wind farms in remote areas and installing solar energy in new housing developments. 

The protest was against Eskom’s contribution to air pollution and the extreme levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) polluting the air in Mpumalanga. Eskom’s coal fire stations have contributed and continue to contribute to harmful emissions into the air. There is no question that the ordinary people are paying a huge price for the pollution crisis – not only with their health but with their lives as well. 

Studies have concluded that South Africans are becoming ill as a result of the high sulphur dioxide secretions in the air (SO2). Most disconcerting is that air pollution is not only affecting the air that is being breathed in by individuals in Mpumalanga but is also affecting other provinces surrounding Mpumalanga. 

South Africa’s Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries have claimed that a definite shift towards incorporating renewable energy will dilute the problem affecting emissions into the air in Mpumalanga. 

Greenpeace has concludedusing NASA satellites, that Kriel is the world’s secondbiggest hotspot for poisonous and harmful emissions into the air – this is only second to Norilsk in Russia. 

The Government has to take responsibility for its contribution to the harmful air we are breathing in – hopefully the protest by Greenpeace Africa will make the utility sit up and take notice and perhaps speed things along to make a difference to the very air we breathe in every day by introducing renewable energy to power our land. 




Protecting Wind Power Turbines

Wind power turbines need to be appropriately protected against lightning and power surges that could cause untold damage to these structuresSouth Africans, by and large, think of renewable energy in terms of solar power only. There is a definite increase in businesses and homes installing solar panels for them to become independent from the grid. 

Fewer South Africans view wind power as a renewable option. The production of electricity from wind turbines is more common and widely spread than we realise and is as widely used as solar power. 

Suffice to say, wind energy is fast becoming an important part of the renewable energy landscape; therefore, the protection of these wind turbines from power surges and lightning has become increasingly important. 

According to statistics, coal is still used for energy in many sectors, but according to the CSIR, the cost of using wind for renewable energy is 40 % cheaper than using coal. 

South Africa enjoy many days of sunshine for solar energy options, but South Africa has huge areas that are windy such as the Western Cape and Eastern Cape as well as some areas in the interior of the country. 

The average period of time that it takes to erect wind farms is about 1.9 years which enables wind farms to be connected to the grid in a relatively short time. 

In the long term, it seems as though wind power will start taking precedence over other renewable energy sources and that wind turbines will require greater protection against electrical power surges and lightning strikes. 

Onshore Wind Turbines therefore require: 

  • Earth protection which will connect the electrical equipment to the ground safely which should then protect property and individuals from any electrical faults 
  • Lightning protection earthing which will protect the equipment from lightning strikes and conduct lightning currents from the down conductors to the earth 
  • Earthing that functions securely and competently ensuring the electrical and electronic equipment operates in a safe and efficient manner 

Wind farms are making huge inroads in relieving the power from the grid in many areas – more so than many of us realise. 

Solar Heating in SA

According to the SABS (South African Bureau of Standards), solarheated water systems should become the norm and not the exception in South Africa. Collaboration between the South African government and the private sector in the past couple of years has now provided a firm foundation for superior quality, safe locally manufactured geysers which is a cost-effective solution for heating water. 

Going forward, overcoming red tape combined with new sources of energy as well as testing and local certification of solar geysers will soon become an everyday occurrence in South African home. It has become apparent that the dependence on the power grid is fast becoming problematic and price hikes will go a long way to resolving power issues and enhance economic growth in South Africa. 

 At present the SABS is the only laboratory that independently tests solar geysers: 

  • The laboratory consists of both indoor and outdoor facilities 
  • The testing covers both mechanical and electrical parts 
  • Additionally, testing includes thermal performance 
  • Mechanical performance 
  • Safety tests 
  • Exposure of the systems in brilliant sunshine for a period of thirty days without any water to gauge what the outcome will be 
  • Fatigue and hydrostatic pressure testing 
  • Tests for the penetration of rain 
  • Hail damage and the resistance thereof 
  • Freezing resistance 
  • And last but not least, the resistance of dezincification 

It is imperative that we build any new homes, structures or buildings with renewable energy, and homes that are already on the power grid should be investigating ways and means to be totally independent of the power grid. There is no time like the present to instill new ways to green your world – the big question here is – how green is your world and how dependent are you on the grid? 



Online and an Offline UPS Systems differences

There are differences between Online and Offline UPS Systems – the big question is – what are they and what are the biggest challenges and advantages that we could face by incorporating these devices to keep our electric up and running all the time. The power utility, Eskom, is constantly in the news and is obviously facing huge challenges to keep our lights switched on, but for most of us running homes and businesses, not having power could prove to be a huge issue. 

Investing in devices to protect our devices and keeping on the lights takes a little bit of creativity, and investigating the options could prove to be the solutions for many of us faced with a future with erratic power that could cause damage to our sensitive equipment whether this means blowing your TV and PC or simply keeping that necessary fan or stove up and running. 

Most of us are aware that there are two different types of UPS Systems (Uninterruptible Power Supply Systems); these include Online and Offline UPS Systems. 

The commonality between the two, is, naturally, to provide a reliable backup of power when the lights go out or when they dip or hike.  

Online UPS Explained 

  • Your Online UPS System is different to the Offline system in that the power is derived directly from powerconditioning components 
  • Your Online UPS System is not directly connected to the power utility 
  • The power is stored in a battery so that when the power goes off power is drawn from the battery 
  • This power is then converted into AC power to continue the operation of household and other electrical devices 
  • Online UPS is Double Conversion UPS 
  • The main applications for the use of your Online UPS system will usually be in critical care environments and production houses where the continuation of power is vital

Online UPS advantages

  • Online UPS can regulate the voltage correctly 
  • The mains and load are presented separately 
  • There are no fluctuations (dips and surges) in the voltage, which means that the quality of the voltage is stable 
  • The reason for this is that the inverter is always switched into the “on” position 
  • The conversion time from DC to AC is negligible (the same reason being that the inverter is never switched off) 
  • When the utility power goes down there will be a continuation of power and no imbalances will be noted 

Offline UPS Explained 

  • Your Offline UPS System is a straightforward, inexpensive option to keep the power on and is directed through the UPS bypassing the inverter to the device. 
  • There is a small amount of filter to protect against instability. 
  • If the utility is unstable or goes down your Offline UPS System will switch to the inverter’s output to provide constant and a continuous power supply 

Offline UPS Advantages 

  • Your Offline UPS System is user-friendly and straightforward to operate 
  • Offline UPS is less expensive than the Online UPS option

Advantages of offline UPS 

  1. The efficiency of this system is high. This is because the charger is not constantly on.
  2. These are affordably priced.
  3. The internal controller is simpler.
  4. The power handling capacity of the charger is greatly decreased.
  5. Applications using offline UPS include emergency power supplies, printers, computers, EPABX, scanners, etc.

Often households opt for offline UPS systems than their online counterparts because of the higher energy efficiency and economical nature of the former. However, households that use highly critical loads should opt for the latter so that sensitive electrical appliances and data are protected. 

Those who are looking to buy UPS, either online or offline systems, are invited to make their purchases from Glowship, India’s largest online platform selling home utility solutions. We offer wide selection of top products from the reputed brands at the best possible prices. There are also a lot of other products like water pumps, solar solutions, LED lights, dewatering pumps, water softeners, water heaters, water purifiers, inverters, batteries, security solutions, and many more available with us.

Lower Cost Offline UPS generally, when on inverter/battery backup, provide a square/pseudo sine wave output waveform. Given the nature in which switch-mode power supplies used in modern computer/office systems draw power this type of output power waveform is usually more than adequate. In situations where a square/pseudo sine output waveform is not acceptable then true sine wave more expensive Offline or Online UPS are recommended.

Online UPS’s take the incoming AC mains supply and convert it to DC which feeds the battery and the load via the inverter. If the mains supply fails, then the batteries feed the load via the inverter with no interruption to the output supply at all. An Online system, by nature of the dual conversion design (AC-DC/DC-AC), ensures a far higher degree of isolation of the load from the irregularities on the mains supply. In general, Plug N Play Online systems are more expensive than similar Offline solutions because the inverter has to be rated for continuous operation. 



For those not in the know, there are numerous UPS Systems that have been designed to keep electrical devices operating during power outages.

The many kinds of UPS offerings could cause much confusion among consumers; therefore, it is advisable to investigate all options these thoroughly to make the right choices.

Although it is widely thought that there are only two kinds of UPS systems, there are more systems on offer. There is a wide range of UPS types and their applications with each one having its very own unique characteristics.

There are five approaches to UPS systems

  • Basic Standby UPS
  • Standby-Ferro UPS
  • Double Conversion On-Line UPS
  • Delta Conversion On-Line UPS
  • Line Interactive UPS

Basic Standby UPS

Basic Standby UPS delivers battery-sourced, short-term power during power outages. The hardware receives power directly from the utility through an AC connection. The UPS will store the power until the backup power is required. The Basic Standby UPS is most often used in the application for the protection of computers, modems, and other sensitive electronic equipment and is the most cost-effective.

Standby-Ferro UPS

In the standby-Ferro design, the inverter is always in the standby mode and is put into motion when the input power fails when the transfer switch is opened.

Double Conversion On-Line UPS

The only difference between the Double Conversion On-Line UPS and Standby UPS is that the main source of power is the inverter instead of the AC mains.

Delta Conversion On-Line UPS

Delta Conversion Online UPS offers a more advanced innovation that eradicates the shortcomings of the outmoded Double Conversion Online UPS, with the improvements based on having a delta inverter and enabling bidirectional movement of power.

The variety of UPS Systems is vast – therefore, making the right choice will make a difference at the end of the day. For more information regarding the different UPS applications, contact your service provider to ensure you make the right choices.


An inverter and a UPS system both supply backup power to electrical devices; however, the primary difference between the two is that the UPS from the main supply to the battery is instantaneous, whereas the supply of power from the inverter to electrical devices will take a few seconds before the power will kick in.


Your inverter will convert your DC power into AC power during unstable power situations. Power from an inverter is stored inside a battery. Depending on the configuration of the circuit and the design of the inverter, the output will put out pulse sine waves, sine waves or square waves.


UPS protects sensitive electrical devices from hikes and dips. The UPS converts AC power to DC power through a rectifier and converts the DC power into AC power through an inverter. Power is instantaneous.

Ten differences between an inverter and an Online UPS System

  • The Inverter will convert AC power into DC power. An Online UPS uses a rectifier to provide the backup power to an electrical device which is instantaneous
  • Inverters delay the conversion of power by a couple of seconds which means that the power is not instantaneous
  • A UPS System is connected directly to appliances; inverters are connected to a battery which will be attached to the electrical circuit (hence the delay of a couple of seconds)
  • An inverter is a more cost-effective option; a UPS System, on the other hand, is a more costly option
  • The configuration of the UPS System includes a battery and rectifier that are built in; the rectifier in the UPS System stores power which converts the power from AC to DC during outages
  • Inverters, on the other hand, have external batteries that store DC power
  • Inverters have the capacity to supply DC power for longer periods of time; more so than UPS Systems
  • An inverter’s power supply could fluctuate and is less stable than that of a UPS System
  • Applications for UPS systems are usually applied to functioning in office, home and industrial environments, whereas inverters are usually used in office environments

Inverters have a definite use in numerous environments as do UPS systems, whether they are Online systems or Offline.


When choosing your UPS System, bear in mind that it is not about how much it costs, as the cheapest is not always best. The most pressing need would be to match up the size of the UPS system required to that of the equipment you are planning to support and what needs to be powered when there are dips and surges, brownouts and blackouts.

The where, what and how of your UPS System

You need to ask yourself a couple of pertinent questions before investing in a UPS System

  • What type of UPS System will you need to keep your world powered? Will it be the less expensive Offline UPS option that is not as accurate as the Online version, or will it be the more accurate Online UPS version that could cost more but will be more stable?
  • The UPS System that you need to select will have to have enough power for all the devices you are planning on keeping running during power hikes and dips, brownouts and blackouts
  • Compiling a list of the most pressing electrical issues you need to address is the most practical method moving forward when shopping around for UPS backup systems
  • For your UPS System to run at its optimum you need to match like with like; in other words, the one that is large enough to keep everything going
  • It is important to find out the UPS capacity as this will determine exactly how large your UPS System should be
  • UPS Systems are measured in Watts – the higher the capacity the more electrical devices it will be able to power
  • Calculate the load to find out the UPS Capacity for accuracy
  • To determine the load, it is advisable to add up all the watts each device uses or contact the manufacturer; alternatively contact the manual

Medical institutions, production houses, schools, universities, libraries, restaurants, businesses both large and small simply cannot afford to have the power go off as this could prove to be detrimental to the business and will lead to loss of earnings.

When the power goes off and comes back on causing huge hikes, it could damage sensitive machinery and electrical devices beyond repair – invest in an accurate UPS System to ensure your devices are kept running and protected at all times.