The fastest and best way for South Africans to liberate themselves from their dependency on Eskom is to ‘go solar’. Installing a full solar power system at your home is expensive, but what you’re paying for is not just the solar panels, inverter and battery bank, it’s the convenience and peace of mind of not being held to ransom at the whims of the national provider.
“Solar energy has been free for billions of years… why does it suddenly cost so much? The truth of the matter is that it’s expensive not to have it.”
You can use the Sparrot solar calculator to work out what your general solar power system requirements are and what they will cost. These costs can range from R60 000 to R250 000.
Unless you take out a personal loan, you will need to foot this huge cost up front, which may seem exorbitant if you don’t have the cash on the ready. But don’t let those numbers scare you. Let’s look at the return on investment (ROI) number by number and see how long your solar power system will take to pay itself off… after which your power is free!
We need to look at two different sets of figures for two different types of systems.
A grid-tied system comprises solar panels and an inverter, as well as an energy manager if you want to get very efficient with your energy generation and consumption. Installation by a certified professional is quite expensive, but it’s worthwhile as this is not something the average Joe can do on a weekend. Let’s say the average basic setup costs R105 000 (keep in mind that more expensive systems can run more than double that amount).
Let’s work it out
If your Eskom bill is R3 000 a month, you can cut that amount by 60%, since you’ll be generating your own solar power during the sunny hours and only relying on the grid at night.
R3 000 ÷ 60% = R1 800
R1 800 x 12 months = R21 600
If your solar power setup cost R105 000, then your annual saving of R21 600 on your Eskom bill means your solar setup will take around 5 years to pay for itself.
Use this formula as a basis and work out your own solar power requirements and savings on your Eskom bill to get an idea of how long your ROI will take.
An hybrid system comprising solar panels, inverter, battery bank and energy manager will not – let’s face it – give you any real ROI. The technology for power storage in the form of lead acid batteries or lithium ion batteries has not advanced to the degree where battery banks are cost-effective investments. Unfortunately. The cost of the batteries will always outweigh the savings on your electricity bill.
Let’s look at the figures
You install a solar power supply system in your home. During the sunny daytime, your power needs are met with your solar panels (see the ROI above), but at night, you need power from your battery bank.
3 kWh Lithium batteries will cost you around R28 000 (exponentially more for more battery power).
If 1 kWh of electricity from Eskom costs you R2, and you use 3 kW, that’s R6 of electricity saved per night.
R6 x 365 days in a year = R2 190 a year in power saving from a R28 000 battery bank. Hmmm?
You’ll need to replace your batteries before they’ve paid themselves off.
What is the REAL return on investment?
If an off-grid system is so expensive, then why bother going off-grid if it won’t save you any real money and you need to keep replacing your batteries? The real question is: what is the cost of peace of mind?
What happens when Eskom implements load shedding or the power infrastructure fails? Just a few examples:
The cost of batteries realise their value in the peace of mind that your household is ‘always on’ and not at the mercy of grid power. Battery power is expensive, while solar is not. Save your large heating and cooking needs for gas installations and spare your batteries for emergency and night-time requirements. And let’s not forget that an off-grid system increases the value of your property by the value of the system.
If you’re interested in a solar installation for your home, talk to us about your needs and let’s work out your costs and ROI for the long term.