Forget load shedding – This South African family has lived off the Eskom grid for 10 years

With the return of Eskom load shedding, many South Africans are suffering extended periods without electricity.

While you can view the load shedding schedule ahead of time and make changes to your day to lessen its impact, the only truly unaffected South Africans will be those living off the grid.

Once such family is the Pretoria-based Dreckmeyrs, who have lived completely off the grid for around 10 years.

Their home is powered by a 5kW-per-hour solar array paired with a 2kW-per-hour wind turbine, allowing the house to constantly generate electricity.

The systems are managed by an intelligent IoT system which can provide the residents with various notifications and alerts dynamically.

Inus Dreckmeyr is an electrical engineer and CEO of Netshield South Africa, and has leveraged his expertise in the industry to build his home’s renewable energy system.

“Our system supplies power to our household housing five people,” said Dreckmeyr.

“We have no connection to the grid and supply our own water from an on-property borehole.”

Dreckmeyr said his household energy system and its energy consumption has changed in recent years, and told MyBroadband that there are multiple ways to optimise energy usage.

Solar panels

Optimisation is key

Dreckmeyr said living with their energy system made his family learn more about electricity optimisation and efficient appliances.

“Initially, when we moved in after the construction and completion of the house, we used the same household appliances as we used in our previous house,” he said.

“There was no direct change to any appliances as such, but everyone in the household became more energy-conscious and changed their lifestyle to improve their energy consumption.”

The house was also fitted with LED lighting to improve power consumption, with high-intensity lighting for reading still available.

“As household appliances fail and needed replacing, we ensured that all the new appliances are as energy-efficient as possible – at least A++ rated,” said Dreckmeyr.

“But the more critical change we made was becoming much more energy efficient and energy wise, using energy when it is available instead of storing for later use.”

“Thus, swimming pool pumps and water extraction from the borehole is done during periods when there is an abundance of energy from our solar array, which would be ‘wasted’ if not used in these applications.”

IoT management

Dreckmeyr’s system is managed by a simple IoT system, which monitors almost every facet of the installation. This includes:

  • Solar array alignment
  • Solar array production
  • MPPTs
  • Inverters
  • Battery temperature
  • Roof temperature
  • Air flow
  • Instant and accumulative consumption
  • Generator fuel
  • Surge protection elements

The system then alerts residents in accordance with preset exceptions, or when a piece of equipment fails or malfunctions.

Using a simple but effective IoT implementation like this can dramatically reduce the amount of work required to keep the energy system running, he said.

“Living off the grid enhances your lifestyle and teaches your kids the value of green energy and the consideration of our planet,” added Dreckmeyr.

“More people should do this to experience the absolute thrill of energy independence.”

“No load shedding, no effects from Eskom strikes, no energy bill, no increase in energy costs, and best of all – our lights are always on.”

For a visual guide to Dreckmeyr’s energy installation, check out these photos.

Now read: Eskom starts Stage 1 load shedding

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Forget load shedding – This South African family has lived off the Eskom grid for 10 years