Load-shedding is set to get worse and you are also going to pay more for your intermittent power than ever. As Eskom lumbers forward, stumbling and teetering on the brink of disaster, we are left with a choice: stick with the system and hope for the best, or start looking for a new system? For the former choice, Eskom is digging in and you will be able to enjoy load-shedding for at least the next 5 years.
Time to go off-grid?
Dreams of well-lit log cabins, nature and harvesting your own food from your off-grid home are the expectations of leaving the grid behind and converting to a new lifestyle. But the reality is that you are probably already settled and that it's not a wilderness paradise around you.
But it can be a paradise, even in the heart of the suburbs, with a little preparation and effort. We only need a few essentials to make our lives comfortable, and once covered we can enjoy the extras that come our way. A Smart Home needs power, water, heating and food (optional if you don't want to grow your own). A Smart Home can provide for all your essential needs without drawing from the main grid.
Solar Power: what to expect.
Solar power systems are modular and can grow with your needs. That said you don't want to keep having to "add on", especially if you start too small. Estimate how much power you need or use. Factor in for high load times when the heater is on or air-conditioning, with the oven, and the washing machine, and the vacuum cleaner, and the microwave, and the kettle... Do you have an electric fence too? All these need to be considered.
A high load can exceed your home-grid power capabilities.
So don't pick a system that will 'just cover' an average day, you need to have a little in reserve to handle a power spike.
Don't worry we can help give you an idea of the system that you need, just request a quote.
Will the system you pick give you the maximum power?
The systems are tested under ideal conditions, so you need to look at your own property, especially the roof. Are there overhanging trees? How about any buildings, mountains or structures that overshadow your property? Does your area get more rain, mist, clouds, pollution (smog) or dust? All these will reduce the output of your solar panels.
Can I go off-grid and cut ties with Eskom?
Yes and no it depends on your unique situation. A solar panel array is primarily limited to the roof space you have available. If there is a shortfall or your roof won't support a solar panel array, a solar tower can be considered but first just look to your roof.
Eskom has begun making noises about allowing private power providers to start supplying the grid to ease the load. So there is some hope there.
The grid-tied feed-in PV systems can put power back into the grid which is also helpful for easing the load on Eskom. You are credited for the power that is fed back into the grid so effectively you run on your power generated in the day and draw on the excess that was fed into the grid at night. The ideal is to have a zero balance or positive balance at the end of the 24-hour cycle.
So if you are on Eskom's side you can stay partially on the grid and not completely sever ties. However, if you want to be independent (and environmentally friendly and forward-thinking) as well as load-shedding free then it's time to go off-grid.
How can you get ready for going off-grid?
If you are running an energy inefficient home your alternative power replacement will have to have a larger power output than an energy-efficient home.
There are some easy wins to reduce your overall power needs.
Look at your appliances. A gas stove and hob are one less burden on your power grid. Unplug the kettle and get a stovetop version or convert to using induction plates.
Fridges and freezers can be converted to gas-powered.
Or you can upgrade to energy-efficient A+++ appliances. The same applies to washing machines and dishwashers.
12V TV's & decoders and radios are available. Consider that even when on standby a normal TV and decoder use about 30W and 150W when active.
Convert to LED lighting and independent solar-powered lighting for outside.