This week, we’ve had a few glorious days free from load shedding, but it probably won’t last for long.
Experts predict that South Africa is likely to suffer a few more years of power outages given all of the problems, including subpar maintenance, at the utility.
So it’s dark times ahead, people. Unless you’re willing to invest in off-the-grid living.
Business Insider spoke to a few leading renewable energy solutions companies to find out how much it would cost to blackout-proof your home.
Prices vary depending on what your electricity usage is, but for standard four-person family home you could expect to pay around R200,000 – without taking government rebates into account.
According to Paul Lombard from energy solutions company Regenergy, a fundamental challenge to renewable energy has been the upfront costs. But these days, most companies offer monthly instalment plans to allow users to pay off the investment over anything up to 15 or even 25 years.
In many ways, solar power pays for itself. You can also monitor and adjust your system using a smartphone app.
As a rough guide, a 1 kilowatt (kW) solar array takes up about 8m2 of space on your roof. This can produce about 5 kilowatts of energy per hour (kWh) depending on the angle and direction the panels face. Solar panels are typically installed facing north in South Africa, in order to maximise exposure to the sun’s rays.
You will need to replace today’s panels every 25 to 40 years.
Which brings us to battery storage.
Newer battery types mean that you can store power for longer periods, and recharge more often without running out of power.
“Lithium batteries need replacing every 8 to 10 years, especially in hotter parts of our country. Typical solar deep cycle batteries like lead, calcium or other AGM [absorbed glass mat] batteries only provide 1,500 to 2,500 recharges. These ‘old school’ batteries require replacing every 3 to 5 years,” said Lombard.
You’ll also need an inverter or charge controller to convert the direct current power that you get from batteries into the alternating current power used by most appliances today.
A converter will last 10 to 15 years.
Finally, if you want to kit out your whole house, here’s an estimate of the overall costs according to three companies – Regenergy, SolarConnect, and Zeroth:
Two-person home using 15kWh/day – R152 000
Four-person home using 25kWh/day – R270 600
Five-person home using +35kWh/day – R359 790
10kW (29 – 46kWh) average four-bedroom home – R215 000
15kW (75kW) five+ bedroom – R240 000
10kW two to four bedroom home – R249 669 (excluding Vat)
15kW five + bedroom home – R349 669 (excluding Vat)
If going completely off the grid is too much for you, you could also try a grid back up system using solar electricity for R120 000, or a basic back up for R49 500 that excludes powering stove, geysers, air conditioning.
Maybe – load shedding isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
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