The desire for solar power has been growing over the past few years, with 2023 seeing the highest consumer demand yet for renewable energy solutions.
Load shedding is at its highest levels as some South Africans sit without power for at least 7,5 hours a day – and that is not taking into account unscheduled electricity failures, many of which occur directly after load shedding.
Constant load shedding and power failures also affect the supply of water as pumps break down as a result of the switching on and off of their power.
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All these struggles are giving South Africans more reason to go off-grid, but the costs are usually the deterring factor. After all, a partial off-grid system will set you back at least R100,000, and a full off-grid solution at least R500,000, depending on how much electricity a household uses.
While some may consider going off-grid completely, Christiaan Hattingh, managing director at energy solutions provider AWPower says this is not a practical solution for most households.
“Off-grid living can be costly, and it requires significant investments in solar panels, battery storage to provide complete grid independence, and possibly generators. We estimate that it may cost up to R500,000 or more to power a home with around 1,200kWh of monthly usage with full self-generation. Most households cannot afford this investment, and it is not a feasible option for small businesses either.”
Going partially off-grid is a more practical solution. Consumers who are willing to get only 5% to 10% of their power from Eskom can significantly reduce their costs. Solar power systems can provide power during the day, and battery storage – charged by solar and/or grid – can be used to provide power during an outage.
He says the cost of installing solar power varies depending on the consumption habits of the individuals and not by the size of the home or the number of bedrooms.
“For clients looking and shopping around, we estimate that the cost of installing solar power in most homes, assuming they are single-phase, would be between R140,000 and R180,000, including VAT.
“For medium-sized businesses and homes that require three-phase electricity supply, the cost of installation is higher. They can expect to pay anything from R300,000 upwards to have solar systems with battery backup installed.”
People are urged to be wary of opportunists and take time to consult with accredited service providers to ensure that the most cost-effective system is tailored to their requirements. Consumers should also read reviews and check testimonials before purchasing solar products. Going for the cheapest option is not always the best guarantee.
The key to knowing what you need and your reasons for wanting to be independent of Eskom will help guide you to the type of home system that you need. To do this, you need to understand these three stages of going off the grid.
* You can get financing for alternate energy solutions in your home. Find out how, here.
* Learn about the three stages of going off the grid here.
*There is a downside to going completely off-grid.