Solar Power Affordability

Is solar worth it for the average South African home? Solar power makes obvious sense, especially in South Africa. In this quick explainer we look at the costs vs. the returns for the average family home.

South Africa’s climate should have positioned it as a world leader in solar energy. Advances in energy storage such as the Tesla wall and other improvements in efficiency will increase the usage of solar in South Africa but until it makes financial sense, solar won’t reach mainstream adoption.

A couple of years ago the average cost of solar was R5/KWH while Eskom was R0.50/ KWH. How things have changed! Now solar is cheaper than Eskom although the initial investment is expensive and out of reach of most South Africans.

To run the average SA family home a 5KW – 7KW system is required with multiple batteries for backups. These systems can cost between R100k and R200k. Going partially off-grid can cost from R30k and up. Smaller systems typically do not power the geyser and stove- only providing power for lighting and light appliances.

With a high price tag and a long wait to see returns- does it make financial sense?
This quick guide has the basic facts to help you inform your decision:

A solar system sufficient to run your house will require 20+ panels and 20-30 batteries.
Storage of the battery system is space intensive. Keeping the batteries dry and safe at all times is essential.This requires a lot of roof space and square meter space for the batteries.

To achieve a good return on investment will take years. The initial outlay is expensive although HP models and monthly repayment options will become more popular- installing solar is still an expensive project to undertake.

If budget or space is an issue, starting off with a smaller solution is a smart option. A smaller installation that just powers something that powers just your appliances for instance.
Mixing different energy sources is also an effective strategy for reducing cost and your environmental impact.

Different mixes of energy solutions
Gas stoves and solar water heaters will reduce your need for electricity and reduce spend.

These options mixed with a smaller solar installation can deliver immediate savings and a shorter wait for a return on investment.

Insulating your home, using energy efficient appliances & light fittings, can all play a role in reducing your energy consumption.

Using a solar water heater and a gas stove can reduce up to 40% of your power consumption.

Rands and sense
The full solar system will take 7-10 years to pay for itself. The system will also add value to a home but more importantly, the burning of fossil fuels to create electricity will be reduced. If you have the opportunity to introduce even a small efficiency such as a solar water heater, gas stove or using more energy efficient appliances – it is the right choice. Fortunately, advances in technology have made it possible for everyone to reduce their power consumption.
Even if a full system’s initial investment is out of reach- there are more affordable ways to take advantage of solar energy.

Use this solar saving calculator to figure out your potential savings-

Find an expert electrician / installer in the HomeFixer app.

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