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Is it possible to live off the state-run power grid in SA?


Johannesburg, 21 Sep 2020
Read time 3min 10sec

Most South African residents rely on the state-run power grid for their electricity. Eskom is the public utility company that manages this grid and the transmission of coal-based energy to people’s homes and businesses. Living off the grid is a fantasy for many South Africans. However, it might become a reality someday soon.

South Africa has seen a trend toward solar energy over the last decade. One company, WiSolar, has become the leader in the transition toward solar energy in South Africa. Several residents have already purchased solar electricity systems from WiSolar and equipped their homes with them. After their solar panels release electrons caused by photons of light striking the panels from the sun, it is consumed and excess stored.

Unfortunately, the average South African solar panel set-up is incapable of satisfying 100% of a household’s power needs throughout the day and night. That is why South Africans continue to use both coal-based power and solar power. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible to live off the grid, though. It merely means that more solar panels will have to be installed so that they can absorb more solar energy from the sun.

How to live on solar power

According to worldbank.org, the electricity consumption per capita in South Africa is over 4 100kWh. It comes out to roughly 10kWh to 12kWh of electricity consumed per person each day. If someone were to install one solar panel outside of their home, it would likely generate up to 2kWh of energy per day.

Therefore, six solar panels would need to be installed outside of a home to generate an average of 12kWh per day that is consumed per capita. This might sound like no big deal, except that solar energy technology is expensive to purchase outright. The average South African household uses more or less 25kwh of peak load electricity daily, that would require 12 solar panels to generate power for a single home each day. Luckily, WiSolar offers financing options to make it easier for people to purchase their solar panels on credit.

WiSolar financing options

WiSolar now lets homeowners purchase their solar energy technology by making low monthly payments. It is part of their objective to transform South African communities with affordable solar energy options and tackle climate change. That way, people no longer have to be dependent on the state-run power grid for their electricity.

According to WiSolar, their solar energy packages are available with financing options. Here is a compact breakdown of their terms:

  • Medium Package: Can power a two-bedroom home with essential appliances, such as a washing machine and refrigerator. R2 557.15 per month for 72 months.
  • Popular Package: Supplies solar power to three- to four-bedroom homes with all the essential appliances and electrical devices. R3 610.10 per month for 72 months.
  • Large Package: The ultimate solar energy plan for people with five-bedroom homes, air conditioning, and the works. R4 512.62 per month for 72 months.

The Popular Package should be able to energise most suburban homes in South Africa. WiSolar has already provided over 9MW of solar power to South African residents. It is enough to energise roughly 3 000 residential homes in the country. And now, with these affordable financing options in place, the solar energy trend is bound to explode over the next couple of years.

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