The R50,000 load-shedding backup systems used by Rain and Cool Ideas execs

Rain chief technology officer Gustav Schoeman and Cool Ideas co-owner Paul Butschi are among the many South Africans who have installed backup power solutions at their homes to fight load-shedding.

Numerous households have turned to generators or solar and battery backups to provide power when it’s their turn to endure Eskom’s rotational power cuts.

In some instances, people have installed fully-fledged off-grid systems to avoid Eskom completely.

However, this can be an expensive exercise costing upwards of R150,000 to R200,000 for the average home.

A medium-scale on-grid solution is a more cost-effective solution to help you stay powered for the full duration of load-shedding and help you shave some of your household energy usage off your Eskom bill.

Given that Schoeman and Butschi are among the most tech-savvy business leaders in the country, we asked them what they were using.

These two executives managed to build capable solutions at around R50,000.

Below is what they had to say about their setups.

Gustav Schoeman —  Rain CTO

Schoeman uses a fairly straightforward system — a hybrid inverter with a lithium-ion battery pack.

This has been mounted next to his distribution board inside a cabinet in his house.

It consists of a Goodwe ES 4.6kW hybrid inverter paired with a 48V 100Ah lithium-ion battery.

The system can provide a maximum output of 4.6kW at any given time.

The battery has a maximum storage capacity of 4.8kWh, but to avoid damaging it through discharging too deeply, he lowered the effective usable capacity to around 3.8kWh.

Schoeman’s entire house runs on this system, excluding heavy appliances like the washing machine, tumble dryer, geyser, and air conditioners.

“It easily runs everything else during load shedding, and the system has never dropped lower than 75% of available capacity,” Schoeman said.

His inverter also supports solar panels, and he plans to add these to generate some of his own electricity.

Paul Butschi – Cool Ideas co-founder and co-owner

Paul Butschi has a more elaborate solution that offers similar maximum power output but additional storage.

His house is home to three people and a cottage with two more occupants.

It consists of the following:

  • Schneider XW4024 Inverter 4.4kW – R4,000
  • 2 x Schneider MPPT60 charge controllers – R8,000 each
  • 8 x 120Ah (1.44kWh each) Omnipower Gel batteries – R1,200 each
  • 12 x 275W JASolar –  R1,459 each

The solution, therefore, cost Butschi about R47,108.

Combined with an installation cost of R14,000, it works out to R61,108.

The inverter was bought at a discount from someone who had emigrated from South Africa, while the solar panels were purchased from a wholesaler.

Butschi said it provides peak solar power of just over 2kW.

Monitoring stats shared by Butschi showed the system had generated around 2,070.7kWh of electricity in the first seven months of 2021.

This equates to about 296kWh per month or about 9.9kWh per day.

While this is below the total electricity usage in his household, which was around 750kWh to 1,000kWh per month, it is more than sufficient for load-shedding and would significantly decrease his bill.

“I installed the system around August 2018. It has been completely critical for the way we live and need power considering that running an ISP is a 24/7 operation,” Butschi said.

“It has paid itself back over many times already.”

Schneider XW4024 Inverter 4.4kW and Schneider MPPT60 charge controllers
Eight 120A Omnipower Gel batteries
Section of the 12 x 275W JASolar grid on Butschi’s roof

Now read: Eskom electricity prices have skyrocketed — and it’s going to get worse

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The R50,000 load-shedding backup systems used by Rain and Cool Ideas execs