Saving for a solar farm is the way to go because the upfront capital-cost is so large; the benefits to both you and the planet are simply vast.
Having lived through 72-Christmases, I have to say my conclusion in general is that it is a time of great waste. Not knowing what to buy, we put a lot of our money into white elephants that serve little or no purpose.
Make your next Christmas different.
You probably know that in an important court judgement against Nersa, Eskom has won the right to recoup an extra R69 billion over the next three-years from you and me.
Actually, that’s not wholly true; from you, not me. Let me explain.
This means that we are going to see several-years of steady and significant increases in what we will pay for electricity. The first will kick in on April 1 with Eskom increasing its cost to municipalities by nearly 16%, and you can be sure they will add their pennyworth.
The increase to the consumer is likely to be close to 20%. And it will be the same next year, and the one thereafter. Compound-interest adds to the pain.
Make 2021 different. Start a family discussion that there will be no birthday or Christmas presents this year, except perhaps for the Little People. No celebratory anniversaries, no dinners out, perhaps no annual holiday, every-cent is going to be put towards building a solar farm.
If you have the skills to do some or all of it yourself, the price-tag starts around R150,000; from a recognised installer, you are probably looking at nearly double that.
Our solar-journey, inspired by seeing what Dutch families were doing, began some 10-years ago. We started too small which was our first mistake. Go as big as you can afford from the beginning, or you will be upgrading which is an unnecessarily costly business.
My strong recommendation, if you can afford it, is don’t go less than a lithium ion battery, a 5kW inverter, two 100A-MPPTs and 5kW of panels; and change to prepaid.
What are the benefits? Firstly you will barely notice when the shenanigans from Eskom kick in, or the Retief-street substation again implodes, and everyone is groaning and starting their gennies. Just as important, no frustrating bills from City Hall.
And no spikes from the grid, like the one that did massive damage down our street two-years ago. Life will become a lot more pleasant; sell your generator.
Is there a downside? Yes, there are small irritations like you will not be able to use the electrical-oven and dishwasher at night, or during inclement weather, unless you turn to prepaid. You will have to mow the grass in the heat of the day.
We have the magnificent benefit of having grid power should we need it. Using the set-up above you will be looking at about R100 per month in winter, but a bit more in summer with all the wet weather. When family come to stay, and you need more hot water, or friends to dinner, it’s there; for a price.
But this will soon end. With Eskom breaking up into three-parts, they are planning to make folk like us who are getting a very cheap ride pay; I am expecting there will again be a monthly fee for transmission and distribution, and it could be substantial.
So plan for increasing the size of your solar farm, should you decide to go off the grid completely to avoid these charges.
That is why I recommend the large 100A-MPPTs; you won’t need to change them if you add more panels. Unlike lead cell, you can simply add another lithium ion battery. Our 10kW inverter means we can use any appliances if the sun is shining; it even charges our elderly, not expensive Nissan Leaf.
Plan to go as big as you can from the beginning because E cars will be the norm within 10-years; upgrading from a 5kW inverter to a larger one was unnecessarily costly for us; we should have gone straight there.
To go off the grid, I would actually have three-sets of panels of about 3 or 4kW each, one facing north, the second east and another west, so you would need an extra MPPT and an another battery. It’s not cheap, but will buy you total freedom from the vagaries of government.
It’s a big decision, not one to be taken lightly. Start scouring the internet, talking to those who have made the transition, reading, planning and thinking. Give your family a solar-farm for Christmas 2021. I promise, you will not be sorry.
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Saving for a solar farm by foregoing Christmas presents this year; twelve months of disappointments will mean a lot less stress and huge savings thereafter.
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