A big hit in electricity prices is expected every July in South Africa; Eskom, our utility provider is in big trouble. This article was first published in the Witness in the column by Bernard Preston entitled Our Green Home.
Never was there a better time to go solar. Panels have doubled in size making them easier to install; excellent lithium batteries and inverters are manufactured right here in South Africa.
The City has stated that they need over a billion rand which they obviously don’t have, to upgrade their ageing infrastructure that has “reached the end of its life;” matters are only going to get worse with the added widespread vandalism and theft of electricity.
You could tomorrow put in 5kW of panels with a 7.4 lithium ion battery and a five kilowatt inverter for less than R200,000. You do the numbers and you’ll find the return far better than anything the stock exchange can offer. Go for more if you can afford it.
You can add extra panels and batteries but to upgrade to a larger inverter is needlessly costly; purchase one as large as you can afford from the start and certainly not less than 5kW.
Add to that the Nersa blunder which is definitely going to mean an extra 15% rise in 2021 on top of the normal increase; talk is that it could be as much as 50pc over the next three years, a huge escalation for a rapidly deteriorating service.
Eskom has asked for a 31% increase in 2023; they may get it.
We recommend that you stay on the grid but go for prepaid electricity; you pay only for what you use in inclement weather and when you need the oven at night for example. But in general keep the mains switch firmly in the off-position to help avert surges.
Assuming you also have vacuum-tubes for heating the geyser, your electrical consumption will be less than R100 per month; near to zero in the dry season provided the good wife does not insist on using the dishwasher at night.
It does mean gladly accepting certain limitations otherwise you will be frustrated. For example that you have to do your roasting in daylight; and other heavy power appliances. Or buy a second battery but they aren’t cheap. Is washing the dishes the old-fashioned way now and then so dreadful?
We have been on this junket for eight years now, starting small and gradually adding to our system. We now celebrate being freed from the mismanagement at City Hall, their hugely problematic billing-system and the woes at Eskom. Let them do their worst; it no longer affects us.
It is an investment in peace of mind when the grid fails; and in the health of the planet. It's a true Cyan Zone issue; good for you and Mother Earth. It has been a fascinating journey; one that I wholeheartedly recommend.
I can honestly say we don’t even notice when the grid fails unless it has been cloudy. Sell the generator.
One debate to consider is which way the panels should face. Traditionally you would think definitely north. However most of the power use is in the morning and late afternoon. Ideally I would recommend having half of your PVs looking towards the equator; and a quarter each directed east and west. But that does mean two extra regulators. Others have different opinions.
The east and west-facing solar panels work remarkably well even when they are getting weak, oblique sunshine.
If you plan to use the electric mower on solar as we do, you will need a larger than 5kW inverter. The surplus in the middle of the day runs the pool pump and chlorinator; and charges the E-car that has landed in our backyard.
Has the time come to stop grumbling about load-shedding, unplanned blackouts and power surges? And actually do something because yet more large price increases are certain.
Build it yourself if you are handy but first get a quote from a reputable installer who will charge you for his services; but because he’s done hundreds of systems, knows what he is about. The lithium battery requires a professional for the guarantee to be valid.
A big hit in electricity prices is expected in the next three years with a 50% rise predicted due in part to Nersa's big oops.
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