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Looksee launches first, free-to-use solar score for South African homes

Escalating loadshedding has South African homeowners looking to solar power as a means to secure their home’s electricity supply. While many homeowners start with looking at cost and system sizes, Standard Bank recommends an alternative option, namely, to look at whether your property is feasible for solar power, as well as the electricity output you could expect from your specific conditions.

With this in mind, Standard Bank’s home efficiency platform has worked with Riskscape, a geospatial actuarial solutions provider, to develop a new, free-to-use, online Solar Score for South African homeowners which takes your individual property conditions into account in determining solar power feasibility. The LookSee Solar Score is one of the first of its kind to provide this level of insight into South Africa’s residential properties.

Standard Bank’s head of digital and eCommerce, Andrew van der Hoven explains: “South Africa offers excellent conditions for solar power, but this does not mean that the conditions of every property are excellent. For instance, your neighbour may be able to go completely off the grid, or, where the regulations allow, will be able to sell electricity back into the grid, while your house may only support a medium-sized solar system with lower production potential.”

There are a variety of factors which determine whether a solar installation is feasible for a particular home. The first factor is the cardinal direction of the various roof panes, as only the sides that are facing a northerly direction will get enough direct sunlight hours. This is followed by a calculation of the roof area to establish how many panels can be supported on the optimal panes or sides, as well as the slopes of these panes. Horizontal irradiance, which measures the radiant power from sunlight for your specific location in South Africa, and shady conditions from surrounding buildings or vegetation, also play a role in establishing how much electricity can be generated from a solar power system.

“We’ve established that one of the biggest challenges for homeowners looking at solar power is the difficulty in finding out whether solar power will work efficiently for their homes. System prices may be comparable, but the amount of power that will be generated from the same system varies from property to property. This is why LookSee has worked on developing a Solar Score that helps homeowners understand what they can reasonably expect from a solar investment in their property,” explains van der Hoven.

Subhead: Simple but effective

The LookSee Solar Score is South Africa’s first, free-to-use, online solar scoring system that combines geospatial data, mathematical algorithms and a selection of technologies to generate a 3-dimensional grid of a house located in South African, including the height of surrounding buildings and vegetation.

Despite the complexity of the system’s supporting technology provided by specialist data partner, Riskscape, the LookSee Solar Score is remarkably easy-to-use and only requires that homeowners enter their full home address into the search field. The system then analyses the property against the various solar factors to calculate a feasibility and efficiency rating.

These ratings result in a Solar Score out of 100:

Your property will not benefit from a solar installation because the amount of electricity that can be harnessed from the sun is low. This could be due to a lack of sunlight, your roof being at a poor angle to the sun, or the shape and slope of your roof not being optimal.
Your property could benefit from an entry-level solar installation, but the output from the system could potentially be limited.
Your property, like most residences in South Africa, could benefit from a solar installation due to a combination of roof area and its northern facing cardinal direction.
Your property offers above-average feasibility for a Solar installation and might be able to support an ‘off-the-grid’ system.
Your property has the best Solar installation potential and could allow you to go ‘off-the-grid’ as well as sell-back to the grid opportunities, if local authorities permit.

The Solar Score also provides insight into your usable roof area, the average number of sunny days in your area and the amount of electricity in kilowatt hours you could expect to generate over the space of a month and a year.

An annual electricity production calculator is also included, providing an estimation of the Rand value of the energy produced by a solar system installed on your home. The scale allows you to see how this energy production adds up as you move from 1 year all the way up to 25 years.

“It’s information like this that can help homeowners make educated decisions on a solar investment based on how much electricity can be generated from their roofs. This is far more useful than working off the maximum electricity a solar system can generate in perfect conditions,” says van der Hoven.

The LookSee home efficiency platform aims to empower homeowners by simplifying the complicated world of home efficiency and making it easier to navigate. The free-to-use site offers valuable advice, data and insights, helping homeowners to make informed decisions and save money. LookSee also provides a range of quality products, solutions and call out services, which have been carefully vetted by Standard Bank, as well as access to affordable lending, regardless of who users bank with.

You can experience the Solar Score by going here:

Please note that the Solar Score is currently available for the large Metro’s in South Africa, excluding sectional title properties (Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town), sectional title and other cities and towns being added during 2023.