With Eskom warning that its system is likely to remain constrained for the near future and applying for hefty price hikes with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, many South African companies and households are looking to become more independent from the national power grid. The conversation inevitably turns to the benefits of installing solar power on their property.
However, misconceptions abound about the costs, implications, and benefits of solar power. Let’s look at some of the myths about solar power and what you can really expect when you invest in a solar installation.
1: ‘Solar power means freedom from loadshedding’
One of the reasons people and businesses first start investigating solar power is that they’re tired of Eskom’s loadshedding or municipal power outages. But for budgetary reasons, most people and companies will opt for a grid-tied system rather than investing in a system that includes batteries.
With a grid-tied system, the inverter will shutdown and stop producing during an outage for safety reasons.
If you want to keep running through loadshedding, you will need to invest in either a generator (which has its own negatives) or a solar hybrid system with batteries to store power for savings/energy security. With a hybrid system, some essential loads on your property will stay on during loadshedding, while non-essential loads will be turned off.
READ: Concern as load-shedding takes its toll on animals
2: ‘Going off-grid will enable me to save a fortune on power bills’
We’ve seen Eskom and municipalities pass some steep electricity increases in recent years. Many electricity users are wondering whether it’s viable to take their property off the municipal electricity grid to save money. However, in our experience, the costs of specifying a system with inverters, solar panels, generators, and battery storage to provide complete grid-independence are too high to be attractive for most properties.
The good news is that you can achieve compelling savings on your monthly bill with a modular solar installation that is appropriately sized specifically for your levels of power consumption. The more solar panels you install, the more of your daytime electricity consumption will be catered for by your solar generation. Depending on your usage pattern, batteries can also be added for night time savings as the budget allows. This overall can lead to a rapid payback period for your solar investment.
3: ‘It’s prohibitively expensive to install solar power’
Many businesses and homeowners like the idea of solar power, but worry about the capital costs. However, you can start small and grow your solar installation, so that you are using less grid power and bringing your electricity bill down over time. A solar hybrid system allows you to save on your monthly electrical bill while also safeguarding your home or business against loadshedding.