FAQ | The Sun Exchange


What is a solar cell?

Solar cells are the squares of silicon that make up a solar panel. Usually a solar panel is made up of 60 solar cells. Solar cells are the part of a solar panel that actually makes the electricity when exposed to sunlight. A solar cell is like a little piece of solar panel real estate, and you can buy as many as are available on a project. You can view open projects here. To make solar energy affordable for people on low incomes, we opted to sell cells rather than whole solar panels to lower the entry price. Your solar cells will all be given a unique reference number, locating it geographically and specifically on each solar project so you can physically visit your solar cell if you want to! 

How do I get my solar cell to generate lease rental payments?

Your solar cells are leased to the electricity consumer, for which they pay you per kWh consumed. This is secured through a Lease Agreement and arranged by The Sun Exchange. By default, you are opted into leasing your solar cells to the electicity consumer. You CAN opt out of this lease arrangement, see 'If they are my solar cells, can I ever get them back?'. Once operational, you can check your Sun Exchange dashboard to track your solar cell ownership and project data. 

Why would I buy solar cells through The Sun Exchange?

You may do so for any of these reasons:

  • You are looking for a reliable income stream not reliant on traditional banking systems and fossil fuels;
  • You may not own or have access to a roof space for installing solar panels onto;
  • You may live in a place with less than ideal conditions for generating solar energy;
  • You may be unable to afford the cost of installing a whole solar system;
  • You may like the idea of owning solar panels powering the developing world;
  • Lease rental payments earned through your ownership of solar cells purchased through The Sun Exchange are not reliant on government subsidies and policy and therefore potentially more sustainable;
  • You may already have solar panels on your roof and are looking to extend your solar assets.

The Sun Exchange enables you to own solar cells that are located on roofs in the most ideal places imaginable at a very affordable price per unit.  And you are helping electrify Africa with solar energy!

How do I buy a solar cell on The Sun Exchange?

Go here, find a project and buy! It takes a few minutes and we will perform a quick identity check. Each crowd-sale has a limited number of solar cells available. Decide how many you want to buy and place an order with pre-payment.

Orders are processed when the crowd-sale reaches its goal. 

The Sun Exchange ensures that all necessary legal agreements are in place and that the solar project is installed to the highest standards. 

How do I buy a solar cells if I don't have South African Rand?

When you register and make a solar cells order, you have three choices:

(A)   You can pay in South Africa Rand (ZAR)    

          On our website, select “ZAR” as your currency

Please make payment through the South Africa domestic money transfer system.

(B)   You can pay in Bitcoin (BTC)  

          On our website, select “BTC” as your currency

Please make payment to the bitcoin wallet address on our website. Bitcoin is a new currency that can be sent quickly, securely and for very little cost.  We understand that BTC is new and unfamiliar to many people; contact us if you need any assistance setting up a local account (called a “wallet”), or sending BTC to us.

If you use BTC to place an order, you have another choice to make: 

(1) You can keep your order payment in BTC until the crowd sale ends.  At that time we will convert some (but not all) of your BTC to buy as many solar cells as then possible.  We return any unused BTC to you.  If you make this choice, the number of cells we allocate to your Order at crowd-sale end will depend on the value of BTC to ZAR at that time.

(2) You can request that we convert your BTC to ZAR after we receive it.  In this case, your BTC will be change to ZAR before the end of the crowd sale.   You will then know the exact number of solar cells you might purchase.  If the crowd sale is cancelled for any reason, your money will be returned in ZAR, and not in BTC.

(C)   You can pay in other currencies     

          On our website, select “ZAR” as your currency

It is possible to make a purchase order with your credit card or via wire transfer, by requesting your bank to change your home currency to ZAR for payment to us.  

Please make payment in ZAR using the account information on our website.

Please be aware of transaction fees!  This type of transaction generally incurs additional fees between 2% and 5% of the amount sent.  As a result, The Sun Exchange will receive less than the amount of your order, and you may not purchase your intended number of solar cells. There are no such fees when paying with Bitcoin.

Be aware that when you lease solar cells to us we will pay lease rental as follows.

(A) -- If you chose to pay in ZAR as in A above

then we will pay your lease rental in ZAR.

(B) and (C) -- If you chose to pay in BTC, or made payment via wire transfer or credit card,

we will pay your solar lease rental in BTC.   

NOTE: If you paid by wire transfer or credit card (C), then you will need to set up a Bitcoin wallet to receive future lease rental payments.

What if I am paying in Bitcoin?

When paying by Bitcoin you need to tell us whether you want to place a Fixed Order or a Variable Order. For Fixed Orders you will be buying a specific number of cells at the BTC price at that moment. For Variable Orders we will keep your payment in BTC until the crowd-sale ends. To account for the price variability of Bitcoin your purchasing power may go up or down during the crowd-sale period. The Sun Exchange tracks the value of Bitcoin pledges and the campaign progress bar reflects the value of ALL contributions at the current Bitcoin price. This ensures that no more or less is raised than needed. Once you have placed an Order, you can check your dashboard to see how many solar cells your order entitles you to.  With variable Orders, If a crowd-sale is unsuccessful, your BTC Order is canceled and your money is returned in full. If you placed a fixed Order, BTC will be returned to you at the ZAR/BTC exchange rate at that time. 

The Sun Exchange operates an ‘In-line’ system. After a sale ends, all unfulfilled Orders will be refunded. 

If you need more information about this process, please get in touch through the Contact Us form or reach out to us through one of our social media channels.  

How are my rental income payments made?

The crowd-sale you backed was successful, and you’re now the proud owner of some solar cells soaking up glorious African sunshine. That’s all well and good, but how do YOU get paid?

The company or community using your solar cells will pay lease rental under contract. Their payments go into a segregated account and as they use the solar energy system, rental is paid out. 

If you did not pay in ZAR, to ensure your rental payments are sent out frequently, securely and efficiently, payments are digitized. This means that they are converted into the universal internet currency called Bitcoin. The Sun Exchange is partnering with digital currency exchanges throughout the world so that you can receive funds in your preferred currency. Please check with us to see if we have partnered with a digital currency exchange in your home country.

If we don’t yet have such an agreement in place where you live, you’ll need to set up an account with your local exchange to convert your earnings into local tender.

If they are my solar cells, can I ever get them back?

You own cells and you may take physical delivery of them, provided that you pay the collection and delivery costs. You can opt out of the lease agreement upfront if you tell us so. However, we think that deploying them in a professionally engineered and operated solar system is the ideal choice!

What happens at the end of the lease period?

You remain the Owner of the solar cells. The Sun Exchange may arrange a sale of the cells to the consumer or a 3rd party on your behalf. 

Where do you operate?

We are developing solar projects in diverse and sunny locations so that you can build a solar portfolio upon which the sun will never set. Currently, our active projects are mainly in Southern Africa.  However, we intend to expand to other areas of Africa and other continents in the future. We aim to help you diversify your solar portfolio to reduce risk and maximize payment streams.

Why Southern Africa?

  • Solar is very effective in Southern Africa; the region receives twice as much sunlight as countries such as Germany and Spain.
  • Solar is the lowest-cost option for electrification, because growing demand for power has increased the price of electricity sourced from the national grid.  
  • In sun-soaked Africa, solar projects are viable without government subsidies and tax incentives and are therefore generally sustainable over the long term.  In Europe, entire national solar industries have been destroyed at the stroke of a pen!
  • Unfortunately, many hospitals, schools, factories, etc. in Southern Africa lack resources to purchase solar equipment. Our globally distributed customers can own and lease solar equipment via our online platform and provide SMEs throughout Southern Africa access to clean, reliable, affordable power.

Who are you?

We are a dynamic, enthusiastic team of solar professionals with an incredibly broad mix of expertise. We are all united by our dedication to transforming the way we distribute energy access and where we originate our wealth. We imagine a future where anyone can help build clean, reliable, distributed sources of solar power in developing economies, without relying on centralized authorities and utilities or on polluting, rapidly-depleting oil supplies. The Sun Exchange was founded by solar entrepreneur Abraham CambridgeLarry Temlock is the co-founder.

We are a marketplace for solar PV equipment that can be strategically installed to benefit developing communities and earn the purchaser rental income. Payments to The Sun Exchange go towards purchasing solar cells and supporting equipment for projects.  We are not a bank, we do not make loans and we do not issue securities.  Each purchaser may choose to not deploy their cells in one of our projects, and may instead accept delivery at a chosen address, for an additional processing fee. 

Why Bitcoin?

Solar cells in the projects we host are available to everyone in the world. If you don't live in the country where the project is located, transferring currency across borders is often expensive and time-consuming. Bitcoin is a universal blockhain based digital currency. Put simply, it is internet money. We accept Bitcoin so that your payments to us and lease rental payments going to you can be sent wherever you are in the world quickly, securely and at a very low cost. If you don't yet have an account (called a "wallet") with a local Bitcoin exchange, please contact us, and we can guide you through this simple setup process.


What is SolarCoin? 

SolarCoin is a valuable digital token created as an incentive to solar producers. They are tradable through digital currency exchanges and can therefore be converted to hard currency. Any solar installation owner can register to the SolarCoin network and receive a SolarCoin for each MWh (1000 kWh) of solar electricity that they produce. This means that when you buy solar panels through The Sun Exchange, you are entitled to receive an allocation of SolarCoin.  Basically, it is free money!

SolarCoins are managed by the SolarCoin Foundation. Sunex is not affiliated with and does not guarantee any obligations of the SolarCoin Foundation.

I love what you are doing.  Can I get involved?

We would love to hear from anyone that has enthusiasm for solar power, climate & community, and decarbonisation. If you feel you would be benefit to our operation, then please do drop us a line! And most importantly, by buying solar cells through the Sun Exchange, you are involved. 

Drop us a line at info@thesunexchange.com if your questions haven't been answered here.