The Dreckmeyrs, a Pretoria-based family, have not had a power cut for the past seven years. That’s because they live completely off the Eskom grid.
Dreckmeyr made the decision to investigate renewable energy resources seven years ago, after he discovered that it would be very costly to run a city council electricity feed into the property.
“My wife and I made a decision that we wanted to be off the grid and we wanted to see if it’s possible to live that way,” said Dreckmeyr.
They started off with a few solar panels and a small battery bank, and since then expanded that to a 5 kilowatt per hour array.
They have a 2 kilowatt, vertical-axis wind turbine combined with the solar power. Wind turbines are advantageous because they operate around the clock, taking over from the solar panels when there is rainy weather.
They have also added a remote management and control system as well as a tracker device that allows for more power to be generated.
Inus stresses that the household is just like any other, running normal appliances like fridges, TVs, hair dryers, PlayStations, and washing machines.
However, they use energy in a more sustainable way thanks to smart choices like LED lights, a wood stove for cooking, a fireplace for warmth, and gas for cooking and water heating.
The Dreckmeyrs have a solar panel array that tracks the sun, which increases energy collection by about 40% and warns of any problems remotely.
The full system cost
Dreckmeyr warned South Africans to be wary of quick fixes and cheap equipment.
Although implementing these systems is a simple process and much of the equipment can be bought online, failure to plan correctly could lead to wasted money and below-par equipment.
The cost for Dreckmeyr’s full system is R400,000, with the solar panels and batteries making up the bulk of the cost.
The following image shows the full cost breakdown of the Dreckmeyr’s off-the-grid power system.