Want to be off-grid? Are you sitting down?
Recently, Eskom once again demonstrated their lack of planning when it came to light that their Ingula pumped storage scheme is delayed and already well over budget, with costs spiraling from R8.9bn to R36bn. These costs will inevitably be passed on to consumers. Whenever we’re faced with an unnecessarily high electricity bill, or huddled together by candlelight due to another bout of loadshedding, it’s easy to whisper through clenched teeth: “I want to be off the grid.” While it might sound especially tempting when you’re feeling the strain on your budget or plunged in darkness, it’s not actually the cheapest solution. Here’s why:
It’s true that home solar energy solutions are becoming more and more affordable.
But the massive amount of solar panels and storage batteries you would need to power your home 100% independently, will come at a steep price.
In smaller systems, the panels and inverter account for the majority of the costs, while with off-grid systems, the cost of the batteries becomes the major component.
Here’s the catch: panels and inverters are designed to last 20 or 10 years respectively. Unfortunately lead-based batteries, which are commonly used for off-grid solutions, only have a typically lifespan of three to five years.
That means that you are not getting a permanent solution, but rather one where the bulk of the investment will need to be replaced regularly.
We’ve crunched some numbers and found that costs increase sharply after 70% grid independence, as detailed below:
The optimal home solution sits at around 60% -70% energy-independency when you consider the amount of energy created, versus the cost to do so.
There are, however, ways to mitigate the costs involved with being off-grid and going predominantly solar. A back-up generator is a good idea for times when the sun is in hiding (although probably not the best option if living green is your primary motivation for grid independence). Then, quite simply, by using energy sparingly – especially in winter.
Our best advice is to be an educated buyer, as too many suppliers promise returns without considering your home’s unique features and setting.
Transparency is essential to building a renewable energy culture in South Africa. This is why we’re dedicated to bust any solar myths floating around, and tailor our renewable energy solutions to each home we visit*.
*Consultations are free, with our quotes obligation free as well. Possibly the best small print ever? Let’s chat!