Sitting in the dark? How to get switched on with solar

By Christiaan Hattingh, Managing Director at energy solutions provider, AWPower

With the increasing number of electricity blackouts across South Africa and loadshedding remaining, many households and business owners have been pushed to seek alternative energy solutions. As a result, the demand for solar power has increased significantly.

In this article, I will look at the advantages of solar power, the cost of installation, and how consumers can ensure that they purchase genuine products and avoid being scammed.

The cost of electricity has been rising rapidly, and loadshedding has become more frequent, forcing many to consider alternative energy sources like solar power.

We have noticed an increase in enquiries for renewable energy solutions since the start of 2023.

Taking your power back

Consumers are frustrated with the lack of electricity supply and are realising the importance of taking matters into their own hands. Business owners are particularly affected, as it is difficult to operate a business in the current economic situation.

The cost of running a business is high, and electricity costs contribute significantly to the total cost. Loss of business due to loadshedding and the cost associated with that, on the other hand, is difficult to quantify, but it is safe to say that it is one of the biggest reasons why to consider solar. Solar power can help businesses reduce their electricity costs while reducing their carbon footprint and at the same time provide more energy security for those that have batteries integrated into their systems.

Going off-grid is not for everyone

While some may consider going off-grid completely, this is not a practical solution for most households.

Off-grid living can be costly, and it requires significant investments in solar panels, battery storage to provide complete grid independence, and possibly generators. AWPower estimates that it may cost up to R500,000 or more to power a home with around 1,200kWh of monthly usage with full self-generation. Most households cannot afford this investment, and it is not a feasible option for small businesses either.

However, going partially off-grid is a more practical solution.

Consumers who are willing to get only 5-10% of their power from Eskom can significantly reduce their costs. Solar power systems can provide power during the day, and battery storage (charged by solar and/or grid) can be used to provide power during an outage.

But what are the costs?

The cost of installing solar power varies depending on the consumption habits of the individuals and not by the size of the home or the number of bedrooms.

For clients looking and shopping around, we estimate that the cost of installing solar power in most homes, assuming they are single-phase, would be between R140,000 and R180,000, including VAT.

For medium-sized businesses and homes that require three-phase electricity supply, the cost of installation is higher. They can expect to pay anything from R300,000 upwards to have solar systems with battery backup installed.

Be aware of opportunists!

When buying solar solutions, consumers must be wary of scams.

When speaking to our customers, we advise conducting thorough research and taking time to consult with accredited service providers to ensure that the most cost-effective system is tailored to their requirements.

Consumers should also read reviews and check testimonials before purchasing solar products. Going for the cheapest option is not always the best guarantee – and many of the clients who selected the “cheapest options” came to us to ‘fix’ their installation as they weren’t happy with the output from the original installation.

Familiarise yourself with the jargon

It is also important to understand the jargon used in the industry, such as going completely off-grid, which means putting a solution in place that completely frees you from reliance on Eskom.

Consumers should work with high-quality vendors that back their products with long warranties and guarantees. It is also essential to consider the vendor’s track record, including an established, multi-year track record with a list of contactable references, a strong commitment to aftersales service, and generous service level agreements.

Final words

Solar power is a practical solution to the energy crisis facing South Africa, especially with analysts talking about an imminent grid collapse.

Although going completely off-grid may not be a realistic option for most households and businesses, consumers can still reduce their energy costs significantly by partially relying on solar power.

When purchasing solar solutions consumers should ensure that they work with reputable vendors to avoid being scammed. It is important to conduct thorough research, read reviews, and understand the jargon used in the industry.

Use our solar calculator here to help you get switched on in the dark.

Scroll to Top