Saving for a solar farm is the way to go because the upfront capital-cost is so large; the benefits to both your family and the planet are simply vast. We call it a Cyan Zone project; blue and green issues.
Having lived through 74 Christmases, I have to say my conclusion in general is that it is a season of great waste. Not knowing what to buy, we put a lot of our money into white-elephants that serve little or no purpose; and gorge on unhealthy foods that benefit only the shopkeeper.
Make next Christmas different.
You probably know that in an important court-judgement against Nersa, Eskom has won the right to recoup an extra 69 billion rand over the next three years from you and me; and that the price will rise by over 20pc.
Actually that’s not wholly true; from you but not from 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 19%; and you can be sure the latter will add their pennyworth.
The increase to the consumer is likely to be over 20%. And it will be the same next year, and the one thereafter. Compound-interest adds to the pain.
Make 2023 different; start a family discussion that there will be no birthday or Christmas presents this year, except perhaps for the Little People. There won't be any celebratory anniversaries, dinners or an annual holiday; every cent will 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 in the Netherlands, began some 10-years ago. We started too small which was our first mistake. Go as big as you can afford from the very beginning or you will be upgrading which is an unnecessarily costly business.
My strong recommendation if you can afford it, is not to go less than a lithium ion battery, a 5kW inverter and two 60A-MPPTs; and five kilowatts of panels.
But first I recommend you change to prepaid electricity.
What are the benefits of saving for a solar farm? 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 generators. Just as important there will be no more frustrating bills from City Hall.
And there will be no spikes from the grid, like the one that did massive damage down our street four-years ago. Life will become a lot more pleasant; sell your generator.
Is there a downside to having to rely on a solar farm? Yes, small irritations like you will not be able to use the oven and dishwasher at night, or during inclement weather may bother the boss; you should turn rather to prepaid electricity. You will have to mow the grass in the heat of the day.
Really there is nothing new about this principle; every housewife knows she cannot do the washing if it's pouring with rain. She must wait for a sunny day.
We have the magnificent benefit of having grid power should we need it from prepaid electricity. Using the set-up above you will be looking at much less than R100 per month in winter but a bit more in summer with all the cloudy weather.
When family come to stay and you need more hot water, or friends to dinner, more power is available; 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 whether you use the power or not; 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. Luckily panels are coming down in price and I have seen them over 500W.
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 purchase another lithium ion battery. Our 10kW inverter means we can use any appliances if the sun is shining; it even charges our elderly, secondhand Nissan Leaf.
Plan to go as big as you can from the beginning because E-cars will be the norm within a decade;
upgrading from a 5kW inverter to a larger one was unnecessarily costly for us. We should have gone straight there. Turning over a blue Leaf three years ago was one of the highlights; no more petrol bills.
To go off the grid I would actually have three sets of 545W panels totaling at least 10kW.
So you would need three MPPTs and at least 15kWh of lithium-ion batteries.
It’s a big decision; not one to be taken lightly. Start scouring the internet and talking to those who have made the transition; read, plan and think. Give your family a solar-farm for Christmas. I promise, you will not be sorry. Before embarking on this perhaps a few thoughts on what is a professional might be pertinent. Could you do it yourself?
The Cyan Zone philosophy is all about taking good care of the family and our possessions; saving for a solar farm was one of the best decisions we ever made. We have little stress now.
Saving for a solar farm by foregoing Christmas presents this year is worth a thought; twelve months of hardship followed by a lot less irritation and huge savings thereafter.
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