How much it costs to escape Eskom and load-shedding — for good

Over a decade since the first mandatory load-shedding, many South Africans have been driven to escape the grasps of Eskom by generating their own power.

The load-shedding situation in South Africa is looking bleak over the coming months, with more than 94 days of power outages forecast and Eskom announcing Stage 4 load-shedding at short notice on Wednesday.

South Africans who wish to produce their own power can use a combination of solar panels to generate, and battery backup systems to store electricity.

Solar panels use photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert sunlight to electricity. When a panel of PV cells absorbs light, electrons that generate electric current are released.

The electric current produced can be used as a direct power source or stored in batteries as a backup power solution.

While some South Africans only use smaller grid-tied systems as a form of backup when blackouts occur, others have adopted larger systems to go completely off-grid.

With the increasing frequency of rotational power cuts and escalating electricity prices, many more South Africans will be looking towards breaking their dependence on the Eskom grid.

It is important to consider how much energy household appliances and other equipment use before deciding on an energy storage system when going off-grid.

Reducing power consumption

Off-grid energy systems are pricey, but there are ways to reduce your energy consumption, which means you may not have to spend as much on power generation equipment.

Switching traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving LEDs can help to cut the power consumption of your household.

Elements are power-hungry components in many household appliances. Switching out items such as electric stoves, ovens, and geysers for gas alternatives can further reduce your energy consumption.

After measuring your average monthly energy consumption, you can determine what you require from an off-grid setup.

Power consumption

Based on CityPower household tariffs, households using 0-500 kWh monthly pay R1.68 per kWh, those using 501-1,000 kWh will pay the same rate for the first 500kWh and R1.94 per kWh over that threshold.

Similarly, those using 1,001-2,000 kWh per month pay R2.09 per kWh for their consumption above 1,001 units.

Those paying R800 or less per month consume a maximum of 476kWh, while households paying R1,500 per month use approximately 840kWh per month.

On the higher-end of the scale, those paying more than R2,500 per month are using at least 1,331 kWh every month.

Several companies offer a variety of pre-configured energy generation setups to take you off-grid completely. Solar Advice is one such company that offers a handy calculator on its website to recommend a solution that should work for you.


The low-energy consumer — R83,120.56

If you are spending R800 or less on electricity per month, you can expect to spend R83,120.56 for a solar power solution to cover your consumption.

Solar Advice recommends six 445W PV panels, a 5kW inverter, and a 4.8kWh battery at this level of daily energy consumption.

The system itself costs R71,620.56, and the installation will cost you R11,500.

The system consists of:

  • 6× 445W Mono Percium Solar Panel
  • 1× Fusion 5kW Hybrid Inverter
  • 1× Fusion 4.8kWh 1C Lithium-ion Solar Battery


The mid-range energy consumer — R95,920.57

If you are spending R1,500 on electricity monthly, you can expect to spend R95,920.57 for a solar power solution to cover your consumption.

For this level of energy consumption, you need more solar panels than the setup suggested above, a 5kW inverter, and a 4.8kWh battery.

The system itself costs R82,120.57, and you can expect to pay R13,800 to have it installed.

This system includes:

  • 9× 445W Mono Percium Solar Panel
  • 1× Fusion 5kW Hybrid Inverter
  • 1× Fusion 4.8kWh 1C Lithium-ion Solar Battery


The heavy energy consumer — R132,567.87

If you are spending R2,500 on electricity monthly, you can expect to spend R132,567.87 for a solar power solution to cover your consumption.

For this level of energy consumption, one would need even more PV panels than the above setups, an 8kW inverter, and a 4.8kWh battery.

The cost of this setup is R115,317.87, excluding the installation costs of R17,250.

The setup includes:

  • 15× 445W Mono Percium Solar Panel
  • 1× Fusion 8kW Hybrid Inverter
  • 1× Fusion 4.8kWh 1C Lithium-ion Solar Battery


Now read: Explosion of private solar and wind power for South Africa

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How much it costs to escape Eskom and load-shedding — for good