How Much It Will Cost You To Get Off The Power Grid In South Africa

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Most people will spend about R150 000.00 – R300 000.00 on a grid-connected solar system, as opposed to R350 000 more or less for a completely off-grid setup. The cost to install an off-grid solar system will vary depending on the location of your house and how much power you use daily.

With an off-grid solar system, the power in your home is entirely reliant on the energy that you generate. If you are using a DC-only solar system and you want to go off-grid, you will want to have a tiny house or a tiny house that has little electrical needs. To go fully off-grid, your whole house needs to be powered by either power from the sun or power that you generate on your own using solar panels and batteries.

Going fully off-grid, or creating an off-grid energy system, involves more than installing solar panels. Installing solar panels is not enough to qualify as being off-grid, and most people using solar energy are still dependent on power from outside sources.

Hybrid systems — which are solar with grid connection combined with storage — make the most sense for many homeowners. For most homes and businesses, grid-connected systems will be far more affordable and less maintenance-intensive than an off-grid system. Installing an off-grid solar power system with batteries is costly, but once a system is operational, it usually requires little maintenance, and homeowners do not get electric bills anymore.

While solar systems generally do not need a lot of upkeep, they do need some upkeep — especially the solar panels. While some households have installed back-up energy products to ward off power cuts, these installations are usually connected to the power grid, meaning that when their own systems are insufficient, they are still connected to Eskoms electricity. If you want to maintain electricity supply when the Eskom grid is out, typically all you will need is a single solar battery.

The reality is, unless you have connections to the national power grid, you are going to have to make big investments in batteries and generators to supply electricity in the evenings or winter. Yes, it is possible to live entirely off the grid – with the help of a combination of sufficient solar PV, batteries, and generators. Even if you are planning on going entirely off the electric grid, it is important to keep in mind that technology has its limitations.

Every component of your system needs to be compatible: Not every inverter is compatible with every battery, not every inverter can be expanded by solar panels, and, indeed, even different makes of electric meters may prove to be a problem.

By adding solar panels at a later date, your system generates its own power and charges the batteries using solar power, rather than using the grid. Using solar energy to offset energy costs means that you are still connected to your local electricity grid, and you can tap into that power supply if you need more energy than what your panels are producing. When charging an electric vehicle with solar power generated from the house or office, you reduce your EVs out-of-pocket operating costs to virtually nothing. While you will need to pay daily or monthly maintenance fees on top of your per-kWh power cost, you get cashback if you produce surplus electricity.

A typical home-based system (5kW inverter, 4kWp panels, and 10kWh of batteries) would produce about 600kWh per month, on average, saving R1500/month off your R2000 electric bill, paying for itself over seven years. Prices vary depending on your electricity use, but for a standard family house with four people, you can expect to pay about R200,000 — without taking into account any government rebates. For complete solar plus high-quality PV system, with installation and maintenance costs, you are looking at about R20,000 a kW, so around R140,000. By contrast, an off-grid starter power set-up that would provide small households with some short-term electricity would cost about R49,000.

A solar power kit can meet lower power needs, and it can be used with another system if you wish to go off-grid in a larger home. The hybrid solar system can be installed in modular stages, with the ability to be extended to provide greater independence from the national power grid as time goes on.

If your energy requirements are similar to the average mentioned above (7 Kw) and you are going to be using 200 Watt solar panels, you would need about 35 panels in order to get your house off-grid. If you want to continue using electricity without adjusting consumption habits, larger households can expect to cough up about half a million Rands for a supersized off-grid system.

The technology is getting better the Watt on the solar panels are going up the average available solar panel would be around 340 watts now, I have seen up to a 600watt solar panel for sale in South Africa online. Also, keep an eye on the Sunsink inverters they are sold as 8.2 kW Inverters and are also capable of managing big households.

I will do a better review of the Sunsink inverter soon, I am busy testing the inverter in real day-to-day application.

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