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How much it costs to generate your own power

To take a typical household completely off the grid using solar panels, battery backup, and an inverter will cost between R200,000 and R220,000. This investment will, however, pay for itself in electricity savings.

Many South African households and businesses are looking for ways to protect themselves against blackouts after the latest bout of Eskom load-shedding.

While the power utility promised a reduction in load-shedding from September, it lost the trust of South Africans years ago.

Former Eskom CEO Brian Dames, former President Jacob Zuma, and even President Cyril Ramaphosa have previously promised load-shedding would be a thing of the past.

It always returned, and South Africans had to endure the worst blackouts the country has ever seen in recent years.

In response to these blackouts, energy expert Chris Yelland said that South Africans must take control of their own energy future as they cannot rely on the government and Eskom.

This is exactly what is happening, with people looking beyond Eskom and the government’s promises for more permanent solutions.

A good solution to protect against load-shedding is a solar installation. NuPower’s Murray van Graan said solar power with battery backups is a great option in South Africa which has lots of sunshine.

Apart from kissing load-shedding goodbye, such an installation will also save people money.

NuPower has run a simulation on a typical household that goes completely off-grid and cut off their Eskom supply, and the numbers look good.

A standard solar installation yields a return on investment of between 9% and 12% in the first year.

After 20 years of operation the levelised cost of electricity comes in at less than R1 per kWh. This is roughly half of what households currently pay.

Generating enough electricity to remove the need for Eskom power does, however, carry a large upfront cost.

A typical household uses roughly 30 kWh to 40kWh per day. This means it will require a setup with an average daily solar production of over 40kWh.

One such setup — a Sunsynk 8kW Hybrid PV Kit — is available from Solar Shop for R174,690.

This setup includes a Sunsynk 8kW hybrid inverter, 4 x PylonTech 3.5kWh batteries, and an 8.4kW solar array.

The system delivers up to 8kW of discharge power which is big enough for most households.

To make the battery backup last longer, it is advisable to replace your electric geyser, which typically accounts for 30% to 40% of monthly electricity usage, with a solar version.

A fully installed 200-litre solar geyser costs around R27,000.

Further energy efficiency measures are also advised to limit your household’s reliance on electricity.

This includes replacing electric stoves and hobs with gas appliances, using LED lighting, and opting for energy-efficient fridges, freezers, and washing machines.

The table below provides an overview of the cost to generate enough power to only use Eskom in emergencies, like when the sun does not shine.


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