If you are willing to put up a hefty initial investment, you can avoid load-shedding and reduce your reliance on Eskom using a solar power system.
There are many all-in-one solar power systems available in South Africa which offer enough power and capacity to take your home completely off the grid.
A solar power system comprises photovoltaic (PV) solar panels which collect energy from the sun and convert it into DC electricity.
This is then sent to an inverter which uses this energy to charge a battery system. The batteries are then connected to the mains and feed electricity into your home.
The entire setup – including inverter, solar panels, and batteries – can be expensive, but it can cure your home of load-shedding permanently – and even allow you to live off the Eskom grid.
Solar power system prices
According to Engel & Völkers Southern Africa director Wendy Williams, the solar power system you will need depends on how much you currently spend on electricity every month.
“An 80 square metre house, for example, would require 2kW of power per day and this system would cost approximately R63,000,” Williams said.
“A bigger system of 5kW would be recommended for a 250 square metre home, at a cost of R110,000.”
Below is the price of the solar power system you will require to run your home based on your monthly electricity bill, according to Williams.
|Electricity expenditure per month||System size||Approximate price|
|Between R1,300 – R2,200||3kW||R74,000|
|Between R2,200 – R5,000||5kW||R110,000|
It is important to note that this cost factors in not only the solar panels needed to deliver sufficient power to your home, but also the battery capacity required to ensure it can continue to function without solar energy.
Williams added that electricity usage depends on the number of appliances you have, meaning your requirements may vary depending on your home and lifestyle.
For this reason, many solar power system providers provide tailored quotes.
The economic feasibility of installing these systems and how long they will take you to pay off depends on your individual power usage.
For this example, we will use a household that currently pays R2,200 every month for electricity and requires a 5kW solar power system to go off-grid.
This system would set the owner back R110,000 as a once-off purchase, which would take four years and two months to pay itself off – based on the monthly electricity bill savings.
After it was paid off, you would then save R26,400 in electricity bills every year by living off the grid – at the current price of electricity.
This means that 10 years after you first bought the solar power system, you would have saved R154,000 by living off the grid after factoring in the offset cost of the initial purchase.
If you are not interested in going completely off-grid and just want to keep your power on during load-shedding, a Tesla Powerwall could be a great option for keeping your house running at full capacity when Eskom turns off the lights.
This product can provide 13.5kWh of usable energy and can be completely discharged without damage to the battery. It has a built-in AC inverter and can supply 5kW of continuous power to a home or office.
The Powerwall, together with Backup Gateway, is priced at R139,900 locally.
Since 2014, there have been a cumulative total of 1,710 hours of load-shedding in South Africa.
This means that if you bought a Tesla Powerwall before 2014, over the course of the last six years, the cost of the battery backup would be equivalent to spending R82 per hour to keep the lights on.
A battery backup solution like this does not provide the same return on investment as a solar power system, however, and it is not much cheaper than the more sustainable solution.