Are you expectant of when you will receive your next notification for the “Eskom se Push” app, or are you worried about another electricity hike (with a recent one having taken place in July 2021). There may be multiple reasons why you might be considering a solar power system as an alternative and the question might have come to mind – “How much does a solar system cost? Is it really worth it?”

Wendy Williams, director of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa, said that solar power is often considered one of the best alternative power sources. And although the initial set up costs are high, it can also save you thousands of rands in the long-term.

There are many variables that will affect the cost of a solar power system (Brand of component, Size of System, Complexity of Installation, etc) Each individual installation would need to be specifically designed and quoted on by an accredited installer or service provider, in order for homeowners to get an accurate costing for their requirements, however, the first variable you would need to consider is the exact requirements you have such as do you want to supplement your energy needs to reduce a power bill, or are you looking at going completely off the grid?

Some of the things to consider regarding solar energy system costings

What type of system are you installing:

Off the grid – Going off the grid completely would be ideal but is usually too expensive for the average home owner because the solar system would need enough battery storage to meet both the average and peak power consumption demand. This system works completely independently of the national grid. This system requires batteries to store electricity to be used when excess electricity is being utilised unless you have specific applications, like pool pumps,  that only need to work when there is enough sunlight.

Hybrid System – Most residential installations in South Africa use hybrid inverters where the solar panels will produce all or part of the energy requirements for the household during the day and use grid power at night. This system is essentially the same set up as an off grid solution but with a connection to the power grid.  This system gives you the freedom of being off the grid but you do have a grid connection available. This system also eliminates the need for excessive or extra battery storage required.

Grid Tied –  This is a favourite amongst the commercial clients who do not need power outside office hours. Grid tied solar energy system are run without storage batteries. When there is no sunlight on the panel you use municipal power

What type of solar panels are being installed:

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

These solar panels are made of a large crystal of silicon. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient with regard to absorbing sunlight and converting it into electricity; and thus do better in lower light conditions than other solar panels.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

These are the most common solar panels on the market today. They look a lot like shattered glass as consist of multiple amounts of small silicon crystals. Polycrystalline solar panels are slightly less efficient than Monocrystalline solar panels but are less expensive to produce.

Amorphous Solar Panels

These panels consist of a thin film made from molten silicon that is spread directly across large plates of stainless steel or similar material. Amorphous solar panels are less efficient than the other two types of solar panels but are also the cheapest to produce. One advantage of amorphous solar panels over the other two is that they are shadow protected, meaning that the solar panel continues to charge while part of its cells are in a shadow. These work great on boats and other types of transportation

What batteries you use:

With lead Acid batteries you need to double up on the battery capacity to meet your needs, discharging the batteries by more than 50% will damage and drastically shorten their lifespan; normal lifespan is about 5 years. Lithium-ion batteries have a longer lifespan and can discharge up to 90% or more, but are more expensive.

According to Gauteng-based solar power specialist company NexSolar, the cost of solar power installation can range from around R63,000 to R200,000 depending on the size of the house and electrical output requirements.

“An 80 square metre house for example, would require 2 kW of power per day and this system would cost approximately R63,000 A bigger system of 5 kW would be recommended for a 250 square metre home, at a cost of R110,000.” These costs include equipment, installation and electrical certificates.”, says Williams, from NexSolar.

Credit: Business Tech

When deciding on whether to purchase a solar energy system, as can be seen from the above information, there are a lot of factors to consider, most of which will be advised by the service provider you opt to go with however, the main thing to focus on as a home owner is figuring out what your goal is with your solar energy solution which will give your service provider an idea of how much power you will need your system to generate.