Eskom load-shedding has returned, and it is expected to stay around for some time as the struggling power utility tries to repair its ageing infrastructure.
There are a few ways to avoid load-shedding, such as buying a generator or inverter, but the only truly unaffected residents will be South Africans who live completely off the grid.
The Dreckmeyr family has accomplished exactly this. Their home in Pretoria is completely off the Eskom grid and is powered exclusively by solar and wind power.
Inus Dreckmeyr is an electrical engineer and CEO of Netshield South Africa, and he has used his expertise in the industry to build his home’s renewable energy system.
He has also implemented an intelligent IoT system to manage and monitor the electricity generation system.
More than enough power
The Dreckmeyr household is powered by a 5kW solar array paired with a 2kW wind turbine, allowing the house to constantly generate electricity.
Additionally, the residence also supplies its own water from an on-property borehole.
MyBroadband asked Dreckmeyr about the power demands of his home and the maintenance costs of running an off-the-grid household.
“We are still totally off-grid and still think it’s a great idea,” Dreckmeyr said.
“We now have more than enough power. This saves the batteries even more and will ensure an even longer lifespan.”
He said that after more than 11 years of service, he has only replaced one battery bank as part of his maintenance, and the system has proven to be an extremely cost-effective solution.
“With the noticeable change in weather patterns this year we used our diesel-generator more often than ever before, but even running these extra hours and adding the cost to the calculation of the overall cost of our electricity supply stays really inexpensive, a fraction of cost of utility providers,” Dreckmeyr added.
“These maintenance costs are so trivial that we do not even include them in our budgets.”
“The other really impressive feature is the power supply stability, as we often sit at our braai and see our the blackouts roll through the valley below,” Dreckmeyr said.
“I often think about it and feel really chuffed that I made the decision all those years ago while most people, back then, thought that I lost all sense of logic,” he added.
Dreckmeyr admitted that they are occasionally complacent and neglect to do maintenance on the system, but it continues to function without any problems.
“Except for a couple of litres of diesel, battery water, and a couple of hours labour to keep the panels clean during the winter, there is virtually no cost to maintain,” he said. “Impressive isn’t it?”
Dreckmeyr’s household is just like any other and runs normal appliances like fridges, TVs, hairdryers, PlayStations, and washing machines.
Photos of Dreckmeyr’s solar and wind power installation are below.